North Coast 500 tour – Days 4-5

8th May
Now we really are on the NC 500 tour! The previous days were all a build up to today. Leaving Inverness the sun was shining once again for the 4th day on the run. Previous holidays in Scotland have also proved a bonus with the weather for us in May or early June. We made a slight detour off the NC 500 (and glad we did). Leaving the busy A9 at the Dornach Firth bridge we took the A386 to Bonar Bridge and returned via the A949 stopping en-route for a lay-by lunch. Much nicer than the A9! The banks around the Dornach Firth are all covered in deep cadmium yellow coloured gorse flowers, which if you tried to paint would look completely out of sorts with the rest of the landscape.
We also stopped on the A9 before our destination to take in a wonderful sea view along with the 30 or so Eider ducks all pairing up and ‘cooing’ away gently. Arriving at Brora CC site early afternoon left us enough time to walk the 1.5 miles back into Brora village along the pristine beach and footpath sandwiched between the sea and a beautifully kept links golf course. Mandatory ice cream at the end – sun still shining and just starting to chill (us and the temperature). Had to put the heating on for the first time (wimps that we are).
End of day one and if the rest of the holiday is like this I for one will not be complaining.

Brora beach in all it’s finery

9th May
Off for my early morning run again 6:45am – ran along the same coastal path and this time saw at least a dozen Terns (Arctic I think – but Janette and I are planning an early morning foray tomorrow with the binoculars to see if they are Arctic or Common).
This morning I had to sort t’internet out for the online shop as it had been down for quite a few days. Not the kind of thing I wanted to be doing on holiday but needs must. We had a few hours spare as we had planned a trip to Forsinard on the train (RSPB reserve) and the train from Brora was not until 1:00pm.
T’internet sorted and off we pedal to the station for what turned out to be a most spectacular train journey. Seriously, if anyone is reading this, it has to be done. What a beautiful scenic route along the Helmsdale valley – of course the sunshine and warmth always makes one see it through rose tinted glasses but I seriously think even on a ‘dreek’ day this would be a most marvellous journey.
Off we get at Forsinard and are treated by Chris the RSPB warden to an hours walk and talk about the Forsinard Flows – the (and think about this) largest bog/moss area on the Planet, yes, in all the world this is the most important place for carbon absorption.

RSPB Forsinard viewing tower

If anyone knows any different let me know! We are talking 400,000+ hectares of boggy area. The moss absorbs the gas and because the moss is permanenntly in water it never releases the gas – seriously good for the planet. Not just for Scotland, not just for the UK, not just for Europe, but for EVERYONE – yes all your family – think about that and look into it sometime.

Panoramic of a tiny portion of the Forsinard Flows

We saw Common Lizards, Stonechats, Wheatears, Whinchats, Meadow Pipits and various ducks and geese – a great day out and then that spectacular journey back – a magic day.

One of the important Forsinard Flow plants

A nearly ‘stepped on’ lucky Common Lizard

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