We did not spend overmuch time in sleep, for by 4.40 a.m. we were on our way once more. The morning was just beginning to dawn as we left the town. Inverness Castle, on our left, looked weird in the dim light.
Workmen were met occasionally going slowly to their daily toil. Corn in stocks was everywhere to be seen, for the harvest was in full swing.
The rough roads of the Grampians have played havoc with my feet, for at this time they were very sore and weary; but by the time we had reached Beauley (famous for its priory) that feeling began to wear off. We had now walked 12 ½ miles, mostly by the sea coast. We had been going directly west, to get round the Moray Firth; but here a sharp turn of the road for the north brought us once more direct for John o' Groat's.
We had breakfast at Muir of Ord, 2 ½ miles further. The rest of 55 minutes picked me up splendidly, and I felt quite myself, once I had got fairly into the swing, after this meal. Again we were walking by the sea shore. The Black Isle was in view all the morning, in fact until Alness was reached.
Conan was left behind, so was the old town of Dingwall, and dinner was obtained at a wayside inn at Kilday. There we arrived 3.40 p.m., having walked 26 ½ miles since the last meal, and 40 miles that day. I could only spare 50 minutes at this point, and then we were off for
Mickle Ferry. That must be reached before dusk, or it might mean a stay for the night on this side and that would be a serious matter for the record.
At last, Tain (46 miles) was reached, It was early-closing day for the shops. One of my cyclists tried in vain to get some raisins, while the other went forward to signal the ferry, Leaving this neat town of Tain a sharp looking boy on a bicycle pioneered me to the ferry in the absence of my cyclists. I was glad of his company: it helped to while the time away. His name, Rory M’Tavish, was as thoroughly Scotch as he was himself.
Two or three miles before the ferry was reached, I could discern the white sails of the boat coming across. This, I thought, was all right, but a little later, when I saw it returning to the north side, my spirits dropped a little.
Again my spirits arose.
By the time I had reached the landing-stage I was able to step without the slightest delay into the boat with the two cyclists, and we were sailing across in the calm twilight of a peaceful evening. The waters washing the sides of the boat seemed to be inviting me to be lulled to sleep. I strove against this inclination, for Golspie was yet 15 miles ahead.
The inability to obtain the food we wanted necessitated a stop for a meal at Clashmore (53 ½ miles).
Accommodation for this was obtained at a baker's shop in the village.
An old lady, with a kind, honest face, looked after our creature comforts, and left her ironing to do so. We heard some news of previous record-breakers who had stayed here.
Very h1gh 1n the opinion of our hostess stood Miss Rosa Symonds, our own champion lady cyclist, who makes a short stay here each time she comes this way.
I had begrudged this stop, but was glad to meet such a fine character as this woman in such an out-of-the-way spot, and would not have considered a much longer delay as time wasted. As I left the house she shook my hand warmly, and spoke to me with a touch of deep affection in her voice. Her parting words are too sacred to bring out here to the publ1c gaze, but I shall never forget them as long as I live.
What an experience I was having. I was glad we were in the dark, or my two friends may have thought me a very weak man.
All was silent: the distance was telling upon us.
The English attendant now left us and went forward to Golspie, where our advance man was anxiously awaiting us.
The day had been an exciting one, and we all knew he would be uneasy until we arrived.
By a rather circuitous route we safely negotiated Mound Station and a few miles later heard the stentorian voice of our fr1end ahead of us. Cheerfully we responded, and two or three minutes later, he was running to meet us in his eagerness, enquiring in a hushed voice how I felt.
I answered him that all was well; besides which my easy action indicated my fit condition.
Though the hour was late several local enthusiasts were waiting to see me arrive.
Our friend beguiled the next quarter of an hour by telling how he had succeeded in getting the night's accommodation.
At first the landlady of the Temperance Hotel refused to entertain the idea of putting me up, when she heard what I was engaged in, "for" said she “I don't want him to die on my hands."
My friend's "Y.M.C.A." card of membership did the trick, however, and when I arrived she looked closely at me, and then exclaimed, "Oh! he's all right."
How strange; some people will look at any character, rather than the one we all carry with us.
By the time we arrived at Golspie it was 12.15, and we had another 73 ½ miles yet to walk.
The cyclists gave every sign of wearying, and it was decided, in view of the heavy day to follow, that one should stay in bed a little longer on the morrow, to make certain that someone should be with me at the finish. To bed and sleep. I felt it was needed.