Sue and Martin in Mallorca 2019

Sue and Martin in Mallorca 2019
On the Archduke's Path in Mallorca

Saturday 27 May 2023

Saturday 27 May 2023 - Montrose parkrun #233

A traditional footnote to our TGO Challenge experience, before driving home, is Montrose parkrun.

Today Sue and Neil shot off into the distance, with Suzy from Warrington (the only one of us who had completed this year's Challenge) next, and Gayle and me enjoying a slow, chatty jog.

Here we are, supported by Mick and Sue O, at the finish.

Strawberry tarts and coffee/tea at Charleton fruit farm rounded off our trip.

An excellent holiday, despite not actually taking part in the Challenge event.

Full results will be here - congratulations to Neil for smashing the Montrose 65 to 69 age group record with his time of 20:06.

Friday 26 May 2023

Friday 26 May 2023 - Montrose (3)

We are still here in Montrose, but not for long because, as I write, the last of the 270 odd finishers of this year's TGO Challenge, Richard Flint, has at about 4:30 signed in.

Shortly before that, we welcomed the 'Grandad' of this year's Challengers, John Burt (84) to the Garden Room at the Park Hotel. Looking fresh as a daisy, and pictured above with Ali and two Sues, John puts some younger walkers to shame.

With nearly everyone finished, and with others manning all the vital services (tea and coffee, fetching water, logging arrivals, dishing out meal tickets, selling trinkets, etc) Sue and I could afford the time for a walk along the nearby beach.

On return to the Park, we picked up another laggard, Mark Storey, and duly escorted him to the finishing post, where he was disappointed not to be the last to arrive.

Later, after the 'Control' equipment and accoutrements had been dissembled and packed away, some 66 finishers and supporters could enjoy the 'Friday Dinner' in the knowledge that everyone taking part was safe and accounted for.

It was good to see Hamish Brown at last night's dinner, and to have Roger Smith's company tonight.

All in all another very successful event. Thanks go to Ali and Sue for coordinating it.

Thursday 25 May 2023

Thursday 25 May 2023 - Montrose (2)


A day spent helping at Challenge Control in the Park Hotel.  I'm not sure how doing yoga with Andy Walker helped, but who am I to judge?

An errand to Charleton strawberry farm found a few Challengers busy scoffing breakfasts and strawberries.

Then it was back to the Park to greet Alistair Pooler and many more arriving in coach loads to sign in.

Eventually we watched over the Thursday dinner, where various presentations were made, including one from Hamish Brown (who made a short speech about the history of the Challenge) to Humphrey Weightman who today completed his 20th Challenge. 

Congratulations were also offered to Sally and Matt, who got engaged on the beach at the end of their Challenge today.


Wednesday 24 May 2023

Wednesday 24 May 2023 - Montrose

Goodbye Thornbank Cottage, Braemar. We look forward to our next visit. 

After bumping into John Plume in Aboyne,  we were treated to elevenses and cake with Bill and Bobby in Drumoak. From there it's a short drive to Montrose with some bright yellow views at this time of year.

After helping at Challenge Control in the Park Hotel - Sue writing certificates, me making teas and washing up - a trip to Tesco provided £13 of ammunition for an al fresco dinner. Sadly the sun had left our balcony so we were inside our spacious room in the Links Hotel, the Park being full up when I booked.

The Wednesday meal for Challengers was well attended. Various awards were presented by Ali and Sue.

Yes, the layout does seem a bit strange.

Over half the Challengers have now finished, and 60 have dropped out, but we will be busy for the next two days, dealing with all those who are nearing their coastal finishing points before coming to Montrose to sign in.

Tuesday 23 May 2023

Tuesday 23 May 2023 - Meall Alvie

Simon (owner of Thornbank Cottage where we are staying) arrived last night and we enjoyed a good meal at Farquharson's.

A slower start today involved Sue and Simon heading up to the Linn of Dee and cycling to Derry Lodge. From there they climbed Carn a' Mhàim and Ben Macdui. The latter confounded the forecast as it was crowned by a cloud. They got back at 6:30, in need of beers.

Meanwhile, I enjoyed a 16km walk from Braemar, as far as the 560 metre summit of Meall Alvie and back. The path out of Braemar joins the Queen's Drive, from where the header picture was taken. Nice views.

The Deeside Way route is being extended to Braemar. There's a need for an off road path between Invercauld bridge and the Lion's Face path. The route has been partially built but comes to an end about 800 metres beyond the bridge (going east to west). Apparently the landowner refused permission for a 2 metre wide path across the hillside, so the project is on hold until a new plan, with the path beside the road, is approved for the 700 metre section of path involved. Hence, currently, The Path to Nowhere.

I used the new path, albeit barriers discouraged that, as it was much safer than continuing along the road.

Keiloch was reached, from where I took the track towards Felagie.

A turn right, along a much rougher track, took me to about 420 metres, leaving a steep uphill grind through deep heather and bilberry bushes to the 560 metre summit.

There were good views all around and I lunched to the pleasant song of a willow warbler. Ben Avon was particularly on view, as was Balmoral Castle in the other direction. No other walkers were seen.

Reversing the route was quite straightforward, and I was back at Thornbank Cottage by around 2:30.

Monday 22 May 2023

Monday 22 May 2023 - Creag Bhalg


Today we drove the six miles up to Linn of Dee. Sue then went pedalling off to White Bridge, from where she nipped up Beinn Bhrotain and Monadh Mòr.

I set off on foot and crossed the bridge over Lui Water before following the east bank of the river to the next bridge. Advertised as 'a pleasant stroll', this tussocky route took me almost an hour! There were nice riverside views to compensate.

Then a straightforward ascent, on a track until the final wearying 500 metres or so, to the summit of Creag Bhalg.

There were great views all around. I joined another chap with a sore knee for a while in the calm warmth of the summit.

After continuing to a subsidiary summit with views down to Braemar, a thin trod led down to a small pylon and a good track. I watched a white tailed eagle for a while. It had a massive wingspan and was being mobbed by smaller birds. 

The track descended above and past Mar Lodge, and enjoyed good views across the green fields of Inverey.

On reaching the car, I finished the lunch I'd started on the summit before getting my bike out for the 30 minute ride back to Braemar.

Looking back, my hill is to the right in the next picture. 

I got back to base at 2:30, and Sue followed, arriving home from her mad dash at around 5:30.

Sunday 21 May 2023

Sunday 21 May 2023 - Around Braemar

A stroll into Braemar found us with Graham Brookes at a bus stop for Ballater. This was a shock. Graham is a TGO Challenge machine, on his 31st crossing. He has a poorly knee and was limping badly. Time to go home! Also pictured above is Braemar resident Richard, an erstwhile Challenger who is not taking part this year.

Sue and I then walked for nearly 5km along the Linn of Dee road, before meeting Marian and Humphrey, stumbling along after Humphrey had inadvertently stolen Marian's walking poles at Mar Lodge.

On the way we had met Taylor Bearden and two mates, all from the USA, enjoying their second outing on this event.

Numerous others were seen as we walked into Braemar with Marian and enjoyed bowls of soup at The Bothy's cafe.

Meanwhile, over the horizon in Manchester, Jacob and Jessica were enjoying success in one of the city's regular running festivals.