We had been talking about in for some time--walking the Great Glen or West Highland Way or?? And of course life kept getting in the way. Each of us separately came to the idea of scaling down our expectations and the distances for our walks. My friend first proposed it--combining a bus ride and a walk. I love the pensioner gap year mixed metaphor--using our senior bus passes to travel for free while kitted out like gap year backpacking adventurers --well, day adventurers. Back on the bus at the close of day and home to our beds.
The First Tuesday was slated for a bus ride to Dornoch, a walk along the beach to Tain, and then bus back to Dornoch and points North. Simple.
On the morning of our adventure, the weather was cold but clear. I had already cut the time too short for a leisurely stroll to the bus stop when I realized that my car needed defrosting, not just a casual whiz around but heavy duty--the driver side door was frozen shut. I climbed over gear shift and turned engine on and pushed and pulled to get door open. As I do so, I can hear the seconds ticking away, but the roads up here are not suited to high speed and any added elements such as ice, errant animals, or dog walkers make it that much riskier, so I made as much haste as was reasonable. I figured, worst case, I would follow the bus to Dornoch.
I pulled into the parking place, noticed that the bus was already at the bus stop and fought down panic while dodging traffic to get on the bus, only to discover that he was 5 minutes ahead of schedule and we would be waiting there. I laughed, more relieved than embarrassed, then looked around to find my friend--I was convinced she would be there and waiting for me.
No friend. I flap my arms looking definitely more pensioner than day adventurer. "She has the map," I explain to no one and everyone in particular. "Do you want a ticket?" the bus driver asks.
Again I do a worst case scenario. I can take the bus to Dornoch, go to the cathederal, go to the castle, find some walking to do and then come back on the bus. I get my ticket and sit down just as my friend arrives looking as harried as I had only a few minutes before. We laugh and sit down to enjoy the ride.
I had been anxious about the walk--would I be able to keep up? Would we have something to say? Would we be able to find our way --there and back again? Somehow, having the day start skewiff but come right was just the balm I needed for my Gilead of anxiety.
So as the day unfolded and things like tides and timetables threw everything off, I was nicely buffered for it. It was great fun.
We had said it would be a weekly thing--hence, First Tuesday, but life has intruded again to scupper our next walks, but now that we have taken that first step, I am confident we'll be at it again. We'll become regulars on the X99 between here and Inverness.