We had chosen to stop at a caravan park last night because we thought it prudent to shower before meeting our friend for a night out. After 4 nights wild camping with only a brief dip in the ocean to quell the growing stench, we could not have chosen a better place. The campsite facilities were amazing with actually hot, powerful showers and decent washing up facilities.

That night we met Lou after her shift at the fire station had ended and she took us out to dinner, getting lost on the way. Using vouchers, we managed to have 3 full size meals and 3 beers for £14… Bargain!! We chatted for ages about her new adventure up in Scotland and the training she said was hard but awesome fun. Until she started talking about car crashes and deaths, I can see why people would want to fight fires for a job. Hearing her talk about what she was doing and what she would soon be expected to deal with was humbling. Whilst I have respect for firefighters as a generality because they risk their lives to help others, today it took on a more personal meaning because one of my friends does it and is living the danger.

Lou hasn’t lived in Inverness long but knew this awesome real ale bar that she thought we might like. This place was incredible! It had about 25 different real craft ales on tap that you could order pint, half or third glasses of so you could try loads in one evening. It was like a permanent beer festival and certainly encouraged us to try most of them before we realised how drunk we were. Here, we bumped into a group of people that turned out to be really cool. We got chatting about their various jobs and how they ended up in Inverness as most of them came from different areas. The girl in the group was the only native Inverness-ian and looked familiar. Turns out we had seen her in passing earlier that day.

On the way down to Inverness we had taken a scenic route. Having not visited Orkney as planned, we now had a lot of time and not very much distance to cover. We took some of the wiggly roads back in towards the centre of the scottish highlands to see some places off the tourist trail, which was great, but the roads were worse condition. We also stopped off at Bonar Bridge for a childish selfie in front of the funny sign.

The route took us all the way to Fort Augustus at the south end of Loch Ness where there was an amazing old fort/manor house, a swing bridge and a staircase of lock gates down to the loch. (very important to spell your loch/ks correctly) As a bit of an engineering geek, I was getting all excited about the mechanism for opening and closing the gates and how it had been modernised to use hydraulics and not really paid much attention to the young attractive blonde in charge of the operation. In my opinion this is the best use of engineering; making complex and heavy manual tasks easy and light weight such that attractive young blondes ladies can do them effortlessly.

Lou had an assessment the next day which she had to be fire fighting fit for. So she supped her pint of lemon sliced water watching us grow steadily more pissed. After an excellent session in the ale bar, Lou and our new friends pointed us in the direction of a good night out and left.

We headed for a strangely named pub, Hooternannys. Here there was an odd collection of music on offer, but when in Rome… It ended up being an awesome night. Dancing around, as best I could with painful knees that have thus far refused to heal, and generally having a great time. We even caught the attention of some fine ladies which must have been a symptom of the known toddlers disease; new-toy-to-play-with-itus.