Day 3 part two Inverness - Golspie
At the next roundabout I turned left for Dingwall, which clings to the slope above Cromarty Firth, then found the old road above the town. As I climbed onwards, there was a car behind me, so I decided I’d pull over at the next passing place.
I came round a corner to find a passing place on the right with a car parked in it, and a man with a dog standing in the middle of the road. I indicated right to pull over beyond the parked car, and he sauntered into the space I wanted to park in, so I kept driving slowly towards him until he got the message and moved down the road a bit.
This spot gave me a splendid view of the A9 crossing the Cromarty Firth on its long, quite frail-looking bridge. Not for the first time, I thought how much nicer it was travelling on the old, narrow roads.
Later, as I crossed a narrow bridge with a sharp bend onto a steep hill at the end of it, I faced an articulated lorry coming the other way. Fortunately, on the corner was the entrance to a farm, and I was able to swing off the road onto this rough track and give the lorry just enough room to get round and onto the bridge.
My intention was to head towards Bonar Bridge, but then to turn off and cut across towards Dornoch Firth Bridge. It’s a road I’ve driven before, but not from the south, and I wasn’t sure I was at the right junction, so I kept going, which brought me past the end of Struie Hill to the viewpoint, which was worth stopping for, then down to the AA box on the corner, and a sharp hairpin bend to get me onto the Bonar Bridge to Tain road.
I made a brief stop at Old Edderton Church to look at the Celtic cross in the graveyard. We went there in the spring, but at that time the stone was covered up to protect it from the frost. It’s quite impressive, but the best bit is the carvings of horse riders on the back. The top one is in strong relief, but below that are three line drawings of riders, which look like rough sketches for the one above. It looks as if these lower line drawings were originally buried below ground level.
I was really on home territory now. Returning to the A9, I crossed Dornoch Firth Bridge, stopping to examine the two plaques on boulders, one at each end of the bridge. I’d often wondered what they said, but never got round to stopping to look. The first one commemorates the opening of the bridge:
THE DORNOCH FIRTH BRIDGE
HER MAJESTY QUEEN ELIZABETH THE QUEEN MOTHER
ON 17 AUGUST 1991
CLIENT: THE SCOTTISH OFFICE
ENGINEERS: CROUCH HOGG WATERMAN and
OVE ARUP & PARTNERS
CONTRACTORS: CHRISTIANI & NIELSEN LTD and
DESIGNERS: SIR ALEXANDER GIBB & PARTNERS and
TONY GRE & PARTNERS
THE BRIDGE, AT 890M, IS ONE OF THE LONGEST IN EUROPE
TO BE BUILT USING THE CAST – PUSH METHOD.
The second one had a cyclist behind it, I think changing his clothes. It was in German, and the translation into English is as follows:
May this bridge for ever be a symbol of heartfelt friendship
between the county of Sutherland and the community of Zetel.
The Friends of Sutherland
Wilhelm Herrenberg (chairman).
And so on homeward. I turned off just over the bridge to take a single track road that led to Dornoch. This little town is quite a tourist hotspot, with its cathedral, Castle Hotel, old jail and court house, and several attractive old buildings.
Passing Embo, where we lived in a rented bungalow whilst house hunting, I descended the hill towards Loch Fleet Nature Reserve and followed the edge of the Loch to rejoin the A9 for the final stretch, across The Mound – the causeway across the Loch that used to carry the Dornoch Light Railway, and on to Golspie and home.