Findhorn Beach

The story so far…

Not much has happened this year.

I did take an overnight trip to Inverness in January. It had no particular purpose apart from getting a couple of days away from home and enjoy some relief from the midwinter cabin fever which grabs me every year.

I saw a great deal at the Inverness Airport Marriott (£68 for a superior room, including breakfast) and constructed a mini break around it. The plan was a hike in the Cairngorms on Friday, followed by Parkrun in Inverness the next morning. Then a football match on the Saturday afternoon – Inverness Caledonian Thistle v Queen’s Park in the Scottish Cup.

All good.

I knew I was taking a chance on the weather being cooperative – a big chance in January – and my optimism turned out to be misplaced. It was cold. We had snow.

Ralia Cafe, Newtonmore

My plans for a hike had to be changed because the minor road leading to the start point had lots of snow and ice on it. My Audi A1 is pretty good in winter conditions, but I was not going to put it to the test.

Plan B was a long walk along the beach between Findhorn and Burghead, on the Moray coast. It was wonderful. Cold, but sunny, and enough fresh air to last me a week.

That evening I discovered that the football match had been postponed because of the snow. Soon after, I found out the Parkrun was cancelled too. Oh well, at least I had time to investigate alternatives, and I certainly enjoyed being able to take my time (and over-eat) at breakfast the next morning. (Parkruns start at 09:30, so any normal kind of breakfast makes a 5k run more difficult.)

Room, With View

For a football match my best alternative was in nearby Elgin – Elgin City hosting Drumchapel United, also in the Scottish Cup. I had seen Elgin win at Hill of Beath Hawthorn in an earlier round, so that appealed. I knew from my Friday meanderings that the snow had not hit the Moray area as hard as it did Inverness. Then I noticed a pitch inspection had been scheduled for first thing on Saturday.

Yes, postponed as well. The pitch was frozen.

Now I was faced with the possibility of just checking out at 12 noon and heading home. My final option was a cup tie at Arbroath, where Motherwell were to be the visitors. Arbroath’s ground is literally next to the sea which often means the pitch is playable when others are not. Arbroath was a slight detour on my way home, but nothing ridiculous.

Gayfield Fireworks

Sure enough, the game was to go ahead. I bought my ticket online, checked out, and jumped in the car.

It turned out to be a good decision. I enjoyed the game and I got 2 hours out in the fresh sea air.

So there we have it – the perils of making travel plans during a Scottish winter. The end result was a lovely winter beach walk, an overnight stay in a hotel I like, and a good football game to watch.

I have no complaints.

ⓒ iain taylor, 2023


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