Those finishing the Challenge on Friday were treated to a day of crystal clear weather for their last lap to Montrose, where our enclave on the campsite is pictured before it started to disband.
The announcement that Big John in the exciting shirt has a job that means he won't have time to be Challenge Coordinator was still sinking in, but I've not encountered anyone who doubts Ali and Sue's ability to take on the mantle. Good luck to you both, and to the entire Challenge support team of organisers vetters and sponsors.
Apparently there were over fifty 'drop outs' this year - an astounding figure given the good conditions, though I know that some were due to unavoidable personal/domestic issues.
The average age of Challengers was 57. The average age of dropouts was ... 57.
The highlight of my trip was Day 5 - a wonderful walk over Creag Meagaidh; but equal to that was the pleasure of meeting so many Challengers during the course of the fortnight, compared with just five encounters with other Challengers during last year's event.
I'll remember a few little items for a while. ..
Waking up in the mist to find ourselves camped on the lawn at Balmoral Castle (or was that a dream?).
David's story about the 'tick in the restaurant'.
Coffee at Chez JJ in Tarfside.
Stefan's midnight arrival at Annan and his a la carte breakfast.
Roger Smith looking in good form at Montrose.
A lanky bearded figure appearing at my tent door just as I'd pitched camp on two nights running - "Hello, I'm Mole" said Jason.
Sue O at Balmedie, soaking wet and after two 45 km days, traipsing over seemingly endless sand dunes in search of the beach, and her relief when we eventually found it.
Jeremy Prall's idyllic camping spot on Day 1 on the Morar ridge, as well as my own eight great wild camps, all free from midges and ticks (the latter of which I have still to encounter on this event).
The 'Amazon' woman.
The excellent Indian restaurant in Ballater and a brief encounter with American Joe, seemingly doing the Challenge in sandals.
Great hospitality at Newtonmore Hostel.
Orchids and Bog Asphodel, Cloudberry and all the other flowers.
A red kite near Charr bothy.
T-shirt weather on eleven out of the fourteen days.
Huge herds of deer and scurrying mice, but sadly no wildcat sighting this year.
Alvar's cheery voice and Roger's cheery messages at Control.
David's ability to survive both a slip and Heather's surgical skills.
A surprisingly tricky little hill on the way to Ballater.
Huge clusters of small tents at Ballater, Tarfside and Montrose.
The Cameraderie of the Challenge.
I could go on. ...
Happy Days indeed - I hope to be back next year.
A slide show may follow ... sometime.
Sent from Timperley (or nearby)