At about two p.m., the showers becoming less frequent, I set out with the hope of reaching Inverness before night. The wind was high, the road muddy, or dirty, as the English call that condition; and the rain frequently compelled me to seek shelter in some wayside cottage, or under the fir-trees that were planted in groves at narrow intervals. The walking was heavy and slow in face of the frequent showers, and a strong gale from the north-east; so that I was exceedingly glad to reach an inn within four miles of Inverness, where I promised myself comfortable lodgings for the night. It was a rather large, but comfortless-looking house, evidently concentrating all its entertainment for travellers in the tap-room. After considerable hesitation, the landlady consented to give me bed and board; and directed “the lassie” to make a fire for me in a large and very respectable room on the second floor. I soon began to feel quite at home by its side. My boots had leaked on the way and my feet were very wet and cold; and it was with a pleasant sense of comfort that I changed stockings, and warmed myself at the ruddy grate, while the storm seemed to increase without. After waiting about an hour for tea, I heard the lassie’s heavy footstep on the stairs; a knock—the door opens—now for the tray and the steaming tea-pot, and happy vision of bread, oatcake and Scotch scones! Alas! what a falling-off was there from this delicious expectation! The lassie had brought a severe and peremptory message from the master, who had just returned home. And she delivered it commiseratingly but decidedly. She was to tell me from him that there was nothing in the house to set before me; that the fair the day before had eaten out the whole stock of his provisions; in short, that I was to take my staff and walk on to Inverness. It was in vain that I remonstrated, pleaded and urged wet feet, the darkness, the wind and rain. “It is so,” said the lassie, “and can’t be otherwise.” She tried to encourage me to the journey by shortening the distance by half its actual miles, saying it was only two, when it was full four, and they of the longest kind. So I went out into the night in my wet clothes, and put the best face and foot to the head-wind and rain that I could bring to bear against them. Both were strong, beating and drenching; and it was so dark that I could hardly see the road. In the course of half an hour, I made the lassie’s two miles, and in another, the whole of the actual distance, and found comfortable quarters in one of the temperance inns of Inverness, reaching it between nine and ten at night. Here I spent a quiet Sabbath, which I greatly enjoyed.
INVERNESS—ROSS-SHIRE—TAIN—DORNOCH—GOLSPIE—PROGRESS OF RAILROADS—THE SUTHERLAND EVICTION—SEA-COAST SCENERY—CAITHNESS— WICK: HERRING FISHERIES—JOHN O’GROAT’S: WALK’S END.