As my car had temporarily become a bit unreliable I decided to spend my day-off walk locally. Last year I’d walked westward along the coast, so this time the opposite direction was a pretty obvious choice.

I headed down to the former Buckpool Harbour and from there followed The Moray Coast Trail, running between Forres and Cullen. Initially it seemed a bit dull as it was running behind industrial buildings, but thanks to a few tourist information boards along it a fascinating story of the place unravelled. Then in Buckie Harbour there was a group of high school students listening to a local fisherman, showing them lobsters and crabs, and talking about his job. Fascinating! When I reached Strathlene Golf Club the previously overcast sky (as forecast) cleared completely and I was walking in the full sunshine. Of course it was great, but I wasn’t prepared for that: my sun cream sat comfortably at home, a few miles away, as did my hat. At one point, near Portknockie, I had to use a lens hood and plastic bag to make an improvised bowl for my dog, heavily panting under the scorching sun. It still amazes me, after all those years, how hot 20 degrees Celsius can be in Scotland.

I got some relief in Cullen, firstly walking in the shadows of the houses, and then through the woods towards Bin of Cullen – but not for long. As it turned out, a huge patch of the forest had been felled down, and instead of nice shadows the track was fully exposed to the sun. Then thankfully there was quite a long stretch running through the forest to the last push to the top of the hill that went up the exposed slope. When I was nearing to the top I spotted a massive cloud of smoke rising on the other side in the distance. Later from the radio I found out that it took over 2 hours to put the fire down.

From the top I descended along the path I’d always wanted to check, going straight down the west slope. It’s was fine all the way to the bottom; there it became so boggy that I regretted having just ordinary walking boots. Eventually I reached the tarmac, but with pretty wet feet. From there I crossed the Hill of Maud to reach a tarmac road going down to Buckie. The home stretch was the dullest one. When I was reaching the junction to Drybridge I abandoned my plan to go through the village and then along the dirt track – instead I just kept going along the road.