Amazingly, I was up earlier than Al today (It wouldn't last).
In fact I was packed away before Al was even completely out of his tent.
Then again, I had been up for a panic toilet stop after my all night vigil.
So, all packed away and ahead of the game, I left Al sorting stuff out, and walked up to
St Drostan's for breakfast, and also to use their toilet (again).
You won't believe this but .....
When we got there, ALL THE BACON HAD GONE!
Probably eaten by the same greedy bastards that drank all the beer.
I have it on good authority CARL that some people had 2 Bacon Sandwiches.
Gutted, Disappointed, I had to make do with and Egg Sandwich.
It was good, it was very good, BUT, when you have set your heart on a BACON sandwich.
You know what I am saying.
So, anyway we had extra tea, and Al turned up, and I told him the terrible news.
Have you seen a grown man weep?
Lucky you were not there.
After breakfast, we loitered quite a bit an talked to folk, and generally did not much for a while.
I paid up my bill as did others.
|Nik and Alva|
|You can never have too many gadgets on your sack.|
We know a song about that don't we everyone.
Shall we sing it.
Ten smart gadgets hanging on your sack .... etc etc
Al did not want to go the river route, and he did not want to do the Hills of Wirren, so in compromise, I went down the river, over the falling downy bridge, and Al went down the road.
The agreement was that we would meet on the South side of the river after the first BIG bridge once he had been down to look at the Sand Martins.
And I would wander down the rather longer side away from bloody tarmac.
So we did.
What I did discover after walking down the other side, is that there are one heck of a lot of new Landrover Tracks, going off in all directions.
It makes the walking a lot easier, but not as interesting.
Anyway, I set off across the bridge which had 2 brand new gates on it, one at either end obviously.
And this sign
|Unsafe bridge with nice new gates|
So again the bridge is very very shabby, with loose boards, and gaps, and dodgy looking wood, and a big drop, but still ok to get across. Maybe one at a time.
Just as well Al went down the road.
I headed up the field to the top track, rather than go along the bottom by the river and then up.
Then just followed the track, that much of the way now is very very smart and new and wide and not full of big puddles.
On route I saw hardly anyone at all at this end.
But lots of wildlife, and some lovely views of the river.
|The river on the way to Keanie|
|The river again on the way to Keanie|
I tried at times to use the edge of the fields.
It made it a bit further, but you do get to walk on some grass.
A bit past Keanie, on the rather dull LRT, I caught up with the 5 Fingers Man (Rob Hausam from Utah), who also had the mega light Cuben Rucksack, and we walked for a while having a chat.
Rob had done the whole think in 5 Fingers Trekking feet thingies. Pretty impressive.
Note.... Anyone remember his name, please tell me. (Thanks to Eddie and Al for that)
After a while I left, to catch Al.
On route I went past the rather splendid bridge near Milden Lodge
I had come across this by accident back in 2005.
In fact, the whole river is rather nice.
As I approached the river before Haugard,I looked out for Al. This is where we said we would meet up, probably.
He had not stopped, but had gone on.
I of course did not know this, but assumed that was the case.
I carried on, and met several folk by the side of the track.
I had gone passed Roger Hoyle, and as I got past the bridge track, I caught up with Andy Williams. He had hurt his ankle and was struggling quite badly, but getting on with it.
I suspect that some dropped out in a far better state, but Andy is well 'ard and maybe of stubborn stuff. He was going to get there no matter what. All power to him, good bloke.
I offered medical stuff, and said if he wanted it at any time, I had a complete roll of Physio Tape, and he could use as much as he needed.
I have always carried it just in case.
And just in case happened for me in 2004, when I broke my leg.
I used nearly a whole roll of the stuff (this is better), to support my leg.
Worst bit was when the nurse had to take it off at Fort William for the X Ray.
Anyway, I carried on to try and find Al, leaving Andy.
There were a lot of others following on by now, so I knew he would get a lot of support.
I found Al a bit further on, and he had stopped for lunch and a rest.
I had been going quite fast, and was also in need of a rest, because I can tell you.
It was £ucking Hot
So we had a goodly rest.
David and Margaret Brocklehurst came by just as we were setting off.
They were walking effortlessly, in the most amazing synchronised style.
Arms legs, feet and poles all in perfect harmony and synchronisation with each other.
I wish I had had a proper video.
It was quite amazing.
They would have won Gold.
We stopped for some other reason, and Roger Hoyle caught us up.
We walked along together, and then by a large pile of earth and rock by the left of the track, I spotted what I though was a bridge.
I went to have a look, and low and behold there was a New Bridge across the river.
This was brilliant, because it meant we would be able to go across to the Rocks Of Solitude walk.
So I persuaded Al and Roger to go across, and we did.
However, there was a sign on the new gate across the bridge as you can see below.
Now, I was expecting Ticks, and Midges and Snakes & maybe even Bulls.
But, at no time, did I think I would be in danger from SNIPERS!
|View from the new bridge|
|Another view from the new bridge|
This is the way up, but we thought we spotted a narrow path up to the right.
This is NOT the path.
Take the track.
The little track goes nowhere, and you end up in undergrowth and nastiness.
And, you end up on the same track.
The track ended at a junction of tracks.
There are lots of choices, and nothing specific unless you head for the road.
We decided to stay off the tarmac and run parallel to the road as far as we could.
But eventually, before you get to the path down to the Rocks of Solitude, there is a bit of a ravine and you have to climb over the fence to the road.
It is a fence with barbed wire.
The bit we went over had already been cut by someone, but I suspect it will be repaired.
And since this is all new, it could well change.
So, we popped onto the road and walked just up to the point where the pylons cross and the path goes down to the river.
A nice chap did stop and ask us if we knew about this.
We will meet him again shortly.
Take the track that goes down rather than staying high, and you get down to the rather wonderful track that goes along the river.
In parts this has been hewn out of solid rock.
Al might add to this, but I believe it was done by Napoleonic prisoners of war.
Whatever the case, this is a wonderful route, and we walked along it to the bit with the seat.
This year, the weather was excellent.
Roger was I think Well Chuffed at coming with us.
In fact I am not sure I should blog this to the rest of the world.
Anyway here are a couple of pictures from the path looking down to the water
These in all honesty do not do it justice.
We met the chap with his very old dog as he came past the seat, and he stopped for a chat.
He had come here on his travels when he retired, to find places to walk.
He loved it so much, he had stayed and never left the area.
A really charming chap.
After a while he left, and we also eventually headed off along the track, to find a place with some water, so that we could make a cup of tea, and also rehydrate, because there was very little water other than the river, and it was bloody hot, and I had run out of fluid.
Eventually, we found a spot.
Settled and brewed up
I also filtered some water.
I do not usually bother, but here, this close to civilisation, it seemed like a good precaution, and I got out the Delios Filter.
Damned shame they are no longer available.
I wish I had bought a couple now.
|Al with Tea|
|Roger with Roll up.|
He normally looks a lot happier, honest
He was struggling on, but we persuaded him to stop and get some fluids on board, and also rest his feet. Have brew.
We offered tea, but he was just going to have water.
Sometimes, a 5 minute break can make you a lot faster overall.
It is a matter of psychology.
After a descent rest, and a lot of fluids, and filling our hats with cold water from the river and sticking them on our heads, more than once (that was bloody fantastic), we set off.
Andy was just finishing his rest.
We followed the track down through the marvellous parkland, and eventually
to the BLUE DOOR.
After the blue door, you come out onto the road to cross the bridge, and then follow the track on the opposite of the river into Edzell.
It really is the most magnificent walk.
|View from the bridge|
|A rather splendid view along the other side.|
Looking down at the reflections in the water of the river.
It has a rather fine Impressionist feel to it.
In all honesty, I think he was getting tired.
It had been a pleasant, but LONG hot day, and he really needed to get his tent up and a lie down, so Roger and I said goodbye just before the bridge, and we went off to Edzell, while Al carried on to Northwater Bridge campsite.
We went into Edzell, and first stop was the shop just past the garage, having resisted the Panamure Arms and beer.
At the shop, we got a rather nice Ice Cream.
I also bought a bottle of white wine for the evening, two bottles of Irn Bru, and also a can of beer, which I was going to hide (in my Croc) until we came up from the beach at St Cyrus tomorrow, so we could share it on the seat 2/3 of the way back up.
So having got our stuff we then set off via as much off road as we could to the campsite.
Starting out just behind the garage, and over the springy bridge, where quite a few people were swimming in the river.
We went via Chapleton, where we bumped into this fine fellow.
We thought about going further across, but the path was a bit lacking, and so eventually we went up the main track, through the nasty muddy bit, and over the wire that had been hung across for no proper reason as far as I can see.
We set off down the road as far as Northgate, where I suggested to Roger, that we turn left and then take the track down to the camp site.
In the past, I have always done the road, but this is no longer, and really much nicer than dicing with the cars, especially on the last bend.
|A rather fine house|
I put up Treeza in the wonderful sunny weather (unlike last time when it rained all eveing).
Had a shower, cooked up some food.
Dug out wine and whiskey, and went over to one of the tables for a rather excellent sociable evening, that went on and on and on.
Again, many folk were there, and much fun and jolity was had.
However, I cannot actually remember at what time I wandered off to my tent.
I do remember that the last 2 standing were myself and Nik, and we were there for quite some time, generally chatting.
I have NO PHOTO's of any of this, so if anyone can send me some pictures of the evening, or the campsite, that would be rather fine.
I do know trhat the following morning Jim did commented on the lateness of our finish,
and something about hearing every word, and
'What goes on the Challenge Stays on the Challenge'
Anyway, I did at some point go to bed, and a hearty sleep was had.
I believe at some point, Al had mentioned 8.30.
I may have dreamt it.
I was NOT going to achieve it anyway.
And soon it would be the coast.
And it would be finished.
And it had gone so fast.
And it had been Good!
Nosound - Contemplating:Neptune:Mars:Moon & Red Song