Thursday, 24 March 2016


Portgordon → Lossiemouth

still-yes.jpg Distance: 14.51 miles
Ascent: 85 metres
Duration: 4 hours 27 minutes

Independence Day
« Portsoy | Findhorn »

In an alternative present today would've been Scotland's Independence Day. Just as we were deliberately walking in Scotland on the day of the referendum so our choice of being here this week was driven by it being Alex Salmond's favoured day to break away from the Union.

Appropriately enough the first flag we saw today wasn't the Saltire but the Belgian flag. It was heart-warming to see thoughts being turned to the attacks in Brussels rather than internal politics.

In fact, the "Yes" and "No" posters that we saw in large quantities a year after the vote have largely gone now. I'd like to think the matter was settled, but there's an undercurrent of change, as if independence is inevitable but the date undecided. As one house in Portgordon proclaimed, "We're still Yes". Change takes time, no matter how dedicated the protagonists.

spey-bay-trees.jpgWe're firmly on the Speyside Way now so route finding is easy (just follow the Thistles — equivalent to the Acorns used on the English and Welsh National Trails).

In Garmouth a stone commemorates the signing of the Solemn League and Covenant by King Charles II in 1650. According to Britannica the signatories pledged to work for a civil and religious union of England, Scotland and Ireland". I was surprised to not find a "We're still No" sticker adorning it.

The wildlife of the area continues to diversify in front of our eyes. Today's new spot was a hare (and a dog darting after it!). We also passed the Scottish Dolphin Centre; hopefully it'll be open when we're back this way in the summer.

dragons-teeth.jpgSummer seems so far away though. As we crossed the River Spey we could see snow capping the summit of Ben Rinnes away to the south.

lossie-east-beach.jpgThe walk finished with a long beach walk along from Kingston to Lossiemouth, a beach backed by the forest of Innes Links and separated from the trees by thousands of World War Two-era "dragons teeth" and gun emplacements hidden carefully amongst the dunes. Did those who constructed them expect them to still be standing 75 years later? What would the framers of the Covenant have made of the state of the Union 375 years after their work?

Posted by pab at 18:34 | Comments will be back one day. Please email me instead!