Saturday, 24 May 2014
Thursday, 22 May 2014
Thursday 22 May 2014 - TGO Challenge - Day 14 - By Hill of Roughbank to Dunnottar Castle and Stonehaven
With rain forecast, I decided to start early and enjoy the best of the day.
So by 4.15 am I was tramping the forest paths towards my destination, enjoying solitude apart from the very vocal dawn chorus. In situations like this I often vow to rise early more often - it brings great rewards.
Today I was rewarded by avoiding the rain, so my tally of walking in the rain to any extent on this trip is limited to just the first Saturday morning - brilliant!
The forest paths were fine, but I hastened along them, forgetting to take a picture with the phone, so today's image is of the Queen's Well on the way to Tarfside - I'd previously tried and failed to send it.
At Dunnottar I managed some self-timed images before Kirsten turned up and kindly took the picture on the previous posting.
A nice coastal walk to Stonehaven was followed by a bus to Montrose and the usual erecting of tent and a hot shower and fresh clothes at the campsite, then it was off to the Park Hotel to sign in and enjoy lunch and reunions, before heading to Balmedie beach to collect a rather bedraggled Sue O at the end of her walk. At least I'm assuming she's bedraggled, given the present downpour. She hasn't arrived yet.
That's it for now. I'll maybe do another posting on statistics and a few anecdotal stories after tonight's dinner - but that posting can wait.
So - the end of another successful Challenge, with just the dinner to enjoy and Alan R and Graham B to return to their loved ones tomorrow.
After a brilliant sleep and a slow departure as the overnight mist cleared, I wandered along past mink traps and rudimentary bridges to the very pristine Charr bothy. Before Charr I turned a corner to be greeted with 'Windmills of the Fetteresso Forest' - a sight that remained with me for most of the day. I can just about see and hear them from the tent.
The night's residents at the bothy had recorded their stay (though there was no mention of Maggie) but were long gone. I ate a tin of fish and noted my passing. Swallows were feeding outside the window - hovering to hoover up insects that must have been drawn to that point by a trick of the light. I couldn't spot their nest.
Just beyond the bothy an excavator was doing some drainage work. The driver was the only person I saw all day.
Beyond Charr there were fine views of Clachnaben, a lovely little hill that I traversed on my first Challenge in 2007.
A red kite suddenly appeared, ignoring me as it searched for a target. The plovers, lapwings, curlew, grouse, LBJs and oystercatchers briefly made themselves scarce.
A brew in sight of Clachnaben (pictured) was welcome by the time I got to Miller's Bog, after which a lovely section of beech wood full of birdsong delivered me to the only road of the day.
Wednesday, 21 May 2014
Last night it was good to see various folk including JD and Marie, Ann and Alvar, and the other helpers at St Drostans, as well as some of the many Challengers who were passing through. Tonight will be much busier for them as the masses pass through.
The evening antics of screaming oystercatchers were replaced this morning by the sound of cooing pigeons and Andy's shuffles. And a cuckoo.
St Drostans provided a bacon butty and a selection of scones and cakes for breakfast, which was enjoyed in a leisurely fashion before starting the serious business of the day at around 9 am.
Bacon and sausage butties again set me up for the ascent of Mount Keen on a fine but misty morning. Sue O, on a so called rest day in Ballater, joined me for the four hour walk to the summit, where we caught up with Rob Jones and joined Mole and Andy, who had arrived in their usual energetic fashion from across the watershed.
We enjoyed half an hour on the top before the cool mist got the better of us and Sue returned to Ballater, leaving the rest of us to amble down to Tarfside via the Queen's Well and the huge monument on the Hill of Rowan.
En route on the 'yellow brick trail' we encountered flapping lapwings, a curlew, a flock of guinea fowl, large clumps of cuckoo flower, rabbits (dead and alive), oyster catchers, and much more. But the highlight was the sociable nature of the occasion. This is certainly an exceptionally sociable crossing for me.
Sunday, 18 May 2014
Last night at the Fife was sociable as planned, though it may have been more lively at the Moorfield, where I hear the Austrian contingent was practicing its 'Ve are not Germans' sketch.