|Day 65 – June 16||Inverness to Conon Bridge|
|Weather: Cloudy with sunny breaks||B&B: The Conon Bridge Hotel (£40)|
|Departed: 8:45 Arrived: 14:15||Walked: 4h 42m Rested: 0 hr 35m|
|Distance Today: 15.2 mi / 24.46 km||Total Distance: 1053.6 mi / 1695.60 km|
|% Complete: ~ 90.21%||Pint of the Day: Caringorm Tradewinds|
|GPS Track for: Day 65|
I enjoyed my day off in Inverness and look forward to another visit in two weeks time. I like Inverness, it’s not too big and it’s setting on the River Ness is beautiful. I spent more than half of the day at the brand new Highland Archives and Family History Center located near Bught Park on the edge of town. The staff were very helpful and in addition to Scottish census and parish records the center has an impressive selection of books on clan history in their library. One of their staff spent nearly two hours helping me get a handle on the Grant clan. His knowledge was encyclopedic and I was more than impressed. I came away with a stack of photocopies and a much better understanding of my Grant ancestors. I’m glad I visited the archives before visiting the Culloden battlefield as I discovered my 5xgreat-grandfather, Alexander Grant, led 80 men from Clan Grant of Glenmorriston for Bonnie Prince Charlie and was severely wounded. He returned to Corrimony and hid in a cave to elude a Hanovarian search party, led by another member of the Grant clan, Ludovick Grant, bent on turning him over to the Duke of Cumberland, the infamous “Butcher of Culloden”. Alexander survived although his lands were plundered and his cattle stolen. His house would have been destroyed had it not been for the fact that the officer dispatched to do it was related to my 5xgreat-grandmother, Jane Ogilvie.
More family history research will have to wait as today I was back on the road to John O’Groats. I was away before 9am and walked through the city, along the River Ness, and past the “NessCafé“. The city center gave way to a residential area that gave way to a large industrial park. I wove my way through the oil storage facilities and builder’s yards in the direction of Kessock Bridge. It was easy to spot but it took some time to reach, but eventually I climbed the staircase and crossed over to the Black Isle. The sidewalk was separated from the A9 by a guardrail but the constant noise was numbing. Could the A9 be to End-to-Enders what the Vuvuzela is to the World Cup?
Fortunately my time spent on the A9 was very brief as I found a small track that led down to a quiet road that followed the edge of Beauly Firth. The next 7 miles were definitely the highlight of the day. The road, sandwiched between lush farmland and tidal flats, was dotted with picturesque villages, including North Kessock, Charleston and Milton. I followed this road to its very end, where it merged with the A832. I minimized my time spent on the A832 by heading north along a farm track and a footpath before crossing a B-road near the hamlet of Ord Muir. My objective was to get to Conon Bridge and to minimize time spent on A-roads so I followed a network of quiet roads through tranquil countryside and the communities of Balvaird and Bishop Kinkell. Unfortunately there are only two ways into Conon Bridge from the south and eventually I had to follow an A-road for the final mile or so into town.
I made good time so I was checked into the Conon Bridge Hotel in time to see the Swiss upset the Spanish at the World Cup. Tomorrow’s walk to Alness is another relatively short one. My original route had me attempt Inverness to Alness in one day but the 26+ miles looked daunting and so I decided long before I left home that I would break it up into two shorter days.