Christine had only packed one pair of padded cycling pants so we had to hunt down the cycle shop before leaving the city. When we eventually found the address it consisted of a block of flats, the bike shop presumably having been demolished. We regained route 1 but had trouble finding our way off the A9, at one point going round in a complete circle.
After all this wasted time, we battled an icy headwind across the Black Isle on this cold grey day, glad that we’d brought our gloves. Then the rain came so we were relieved to find the shelter of the friendly Pantry cafe in the lovely little town of Cromarty. Here we warmed up, dried off a little and fortified ourselves with coffee and cake before dropping down to the harbour for the Nigg ferry.
On the other side, we called in on Fearn station where a bench under the station canopy provided a comfortable dry spot for our lunch. More time was lost after this, Christine set off before us but unknown to me, she popped round a corner for a wee while we continued, so I thought she was in front rather than behind us. I couldn’t understand why she hadn’t waited for us at the next junction, or in Tain, but carried on almost to the bridge over the Dornoch Firth. My tablet was switched on but she hadn’t phoned but I thought I’d better text her. It transpired that she was in Tain, and hadn’t phoned me because she didn’t have my number, even though I’ve had the tablet for a year. Rowan and I waited for her and we carried on over the Firth and off the main road into Dornoch. It’s a delightful little town and the hotel was very tempting but we’d booked in to the hostel at Rogart so had to press on.
We ploughed on through the gloom, tantalising views of the Firth tempting us to return in better weather. The rain eased and the wind was at our backs along the shore of Loch Fleet so we soon made it to Rogart. The hostel was easy to find, being alongside the station and consisting of former BR Mark II first class compartment coaches. One compartment formed the general lounge, one had been stripped out to make space for the kitchen and one into a dining area, and there was a shower adjoining each lavatory. The remaining compartments had one bay of seats removed to make way for two bunks, sleeping eight per coach in total. The experience was akin to a sleeping car, the obvious difference being that the absence of movement made for a good night’s sleep.