I had to turn west and set off towards the old abandoned castle. I bumped into another walker, who was just about to set off and I couldn't determine in which direction he would be going.
We struck up a conversation easily. Philip Williams, was walking around the coasts of the U.K. in stages. He lived and worked in London and was also making a radio documentary to be broadcast in a few years time. He told me that he had been walking over a few years so far and had possibly done something in the region of 4500 miles so far. I liked Phillip and said that if he needed any help with that then to call me, as I too was attempting to take some footages for a documentary, though I had lost a lot of footages when the hard drive crashed last month. He was doing the walk between B&B's so didn't need to carry a heavy bag with tent and the like, and I envied that for a moment, my load was still cumbersome. Philip is raising money for the Alzheimers Society. After a while we said our respective farewells and set out again to get some more miles under my belt.
I passed the waterfront of the firth and saw away in the distance the bridge that I would need to reach to cross the river. I also noticed here that there were a few empty cottages with no-one living in them, and thought what a shame it was as the views were lovely. After another hour or so it was beginning to get dark, though it was still not late. I arrived into Golspie at about 7.30pm and made my way to a place to get a drink. The first pub that I found was either not accepting guest was closed or the doors were at the rear of the building despite it having doors on the street side. I carried on along the street, realising my way blocked for a reason and came to the Caberfeidh Hotel.
It was open and very warm and welcoming and the barmaid didn't mind making me coffee. Ruth and I began chatting immediately and she tried to help me find points of interest on the Orkney Islands as she was a huge fan of the place and had travelled there many times over the past few years. She asked me where I was staying and I said maybe the park. She went away to ask the land lady about a room or the like and unfortunately the rooms were not available, but Sheila had said I could put my tent in the rear garden. Later she explained that the sea was rough and sometimes it could breach the sea wall and come into her garden, so she offered me the floor in the back room of her Pub, which I happily accepted.
I had to wait until 10.30 for the opening, but that was not a problem. John the doorman receptionist said that he would gladly look after my bag and I put it behind the screens out of the way. He was a nice man and asked me much about my walk and aims and I asked much about the castle and the history of the place. He helped me somewhat with the entrance fee, another kindness and I set off to see the castle I had never seen before but heralded the Robin, my emblem. The staff were all very nice and I spent ages getting my monies worth of their helpful information about the home of several generations of Earls and Dukes and Lairds of the Dunrobin estates. To be fair it was a lovely house and had once also been a boarding school for boys. It was enormous and expansive and full of old furniture and decorations and trinkets and so much character. Successive dukes had added their marks to the size of the castle and the features but it was still incredible for the views it commanded from this seafront position.
I saw the gardens too stretched out in front towards the huge wall that surrounded the place.
A falconry display was also part of the tour and so at 11.30 I set out into the gardens to see the mastery of the Falconer, Andy Hughes who lived and worked here permanently. He trained so many birds and had about 30 in total, including a Tawny Owl and a Peregrine Falcon, and many other birds of prey, even one geriatric eagle. The children all squealed with delight at the way he got the birds to swoop over head so low that you could feel the wind as they closed in across your heads.