See http://www.topwalks.com/tgoc2012.html Day 13 for map
Distance: 29km (Cum 400.5)
Ascent: 500 metres (Cum 9800)
Time taken: 8.3hrs including stops
Weather: drenched with sweat
Challengers encountered: none
Others encountered: mainly Bill and Alison, who walked with us from Potarch to their house in Drumoak.
Flora and Fauna: Bill was given a lesson on hedgerow flowers; lots of birds and deer already recorded.
Greater spotted woodpecker and collared doves in B + A's garden.
This was a lovely day's walk, with virtually no tarmac, under a clear blue sky, with flowers, birdsong and Bill and Alison to cheer us along the way.
Bill and Alison arrived on the 9am bus, just as we were settling our modest hotel bill. The Deeside Way is not yet waymarked hereabouts, but the paths have been built and they coincide with the route I'd plotted.
Sue is pictured with B+A on one of the forestry paths featured early on the day's stroll.
After an hour or two we diverted slightly from the route of the Deeside Way to ascend Scolty (299 metres), our 'Hill of the Day' (had you noticed that policy?). It's a lovely little hill with a tower on the top (pictured). Last week Bill had to wear gloves and spend the rest of the day thawing out after visiting this spot. Today he lagged behind; on arrival at the top collapsing like a jelly in front of a friendly sunbathing George Formby fan. We thought he had sunstroke, and despite witnessing his skill in dodging a banana skin flung towards him from the top of the tower, we think we may have been correct.
The tower commemorates William Burnett (1762-1839), who was a son of Sir Thomas, the refurbisher of Crathes Castle and its famous gardens. On retirement from the army, William acquired and enlarged Banchory Lodge Estate, of which Scolty Hill was then a part.
Bill's temporary revival allowed us to descend gently to the pleasant town of Banchory, where in his sun-stricken state he demanded ice creams with menaces. Local entrepreneur farmer, Maitland Mackie was up to the challenge and one of his minions sold us some 'Mackies', a miracle ice cream cure for sunstroke.
Suitably refreshed, we made our way a few hundred metres to the Banchory Lodge Hotel, where further remedial medicine was provided by way of a large pot of tea in the garden, where Bill lay under the shade of a tree, Alison and I sat in the sun, and Sue went for a swim (well, this poetic licence has gone quite far enough - a paddle) in the river.
We returned to the official, waymarked Deeside Way until Crathes, passing on the way a short section of reclaimed railway line and its associated paraphernalia.
Then we could have continued along the old railway track, but instead we chose a slightly longer route along paths actually beside the river. This was a delightful way to finish the day, and thanks go to B + A for pointing out this route, which eventually regained the Deeside Way a few metres before reaching their house in Drumoak.
Drumoak (Scottish Gaelic: Druim M'Aodhaig, the ridge of St Aodhag) is a village situated next to the River Dee, with Park Bridge, named after the local Park Estate, being a local crossing; Park Estate was formerly owned by the railway engineer Sir Robert Williams; Sir Robert is interred at Drumoak. There is a church, small shop, bowling green and the Irvine Arms restaurant (after the family that owned 13th century Drum Castle). Drum Castle is run by the National Trust and is open to visitors. Relics and portraits of the Irvine family are kept here, and it was conferred by Robert the Bruce onto William de Irvine. The Dee River gravels also attract gravel extraction on both sides of the river. Drumoak Manse in 1638 was the birthplace of James Gregory (astronomer and mathematician), discoverer of diffraction gratings a year after Newton's prism experiments, and inventor of the Gregorian telescope design in 1663. The design is still used today in telescopes such as the Arecibo Radio Telescope, upgraded to a Gregorian design in 1997 giving Arecibo a flexibility it had not previously possessed.
Tonight the champagne and wine flowed and I'm not really in a state to compose this entry.
So before closing I'll simply thank Ali-J for her comment, congratulate Mick and Gayle on their successful crossing, wish everyone well for tomorrow and Friday, confirm that I'll pass on Martin R's best wishes to his 'Chally' friends, and say "Goodnight".
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