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Wednesday 11thJune 2008
Saltburn to Bonar Bridge

I had ordered my normal scrambled egg, bacon and tomato for breakfast – so was somewhat surprised to be given a full Scottish breakfast.  I did my best but was beaten by the sausage, mushrooms, baked beans and black pudding.  Across the breakfast table from us was a New Zealand couple so the conversation veered towards the sights that we should be looking at when we visit next year.

We cycled along Nigg Bay, which is part of Cromarty Firth and then avoiding the main A9 used the minor roads to reach the village of Tain which unfortunately was a more hilly route.  In Tain we had our first tea stop and we also bought bread for lunch.  There was no way we could avoid the A9 for the next section as we crossed Dornoch Firth on the road bridge with the wind straight in our faces, but soon turned off on a very quiet minor road that took us into the centre of Dornoch – our next cathedral stop.  The cathedral dates from the 1230’s but was severely damaged when the MacKays of Strathnaver set it on fire destroying the Nave and roof in the 1500’s.  Although partially restored in the 1600’s it was not fully restored until 1837 when a new nave was built over the ruins of the original structure.  There are some lovely stained glass windows in the church, one installed in 1989 marks the occasion of the 750th anniversary of the consecration of the cathedral and represents the founder Bishop Gilbert.  Another celebrates the role of women in the life and work of the church and marks in particular the contribution made by Elizabeth Robertson Mackay (the first woman elder of the church) who died on 11th July 1993 – the 900th anniversary of the death of Queen Margaret of Scotland.

It wasn’t very warm outside but we managed to find a sheltered spot outside the church to eat our sandwiches and then found a café round the corner to top up with hot tea. Our destination at Bonar Bridge involved retracing our steps for about three miles and then using a bit more of the A9.  This was to be the last time we used this busy road on the trip.  Then it was off along the northern shore of the Dornoch Firth with the wind against us.  We were having difficulty keeping warm even though we had donned extra layers.  With still three miles to go we came across the remains of a church and with its graveyard at Little Creich.  We took refuge from the wind in the ruins of the building and watched a young family of blue tits being fed.  The cemetery is still in use today even though the church no longer exists.  And then on to Bonar Bridge to the B&B.

Mileage 34.3 miles Total 370.5 miles

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