OK, maybe not that last bit
La Piscina by Ludovico Einaudi
So I have saved one of my favourite pieces of music until last.
This is for me a beautiful piece, and captivates the beauty and wonder of a trip across Scotland.
You really should listen to it.
It's only short
And so sadly, we come to the last day.
I woke feeling somewhat damaged, but thankfully devoid of any memories.
The weather was quite good, although a little cool.
We had familiar old ground to cover the coast now, what with the decision after many a negative review, that Brechin, was NOT the place to be last night.
And after an early visit to wash away the horrors of whatever had damaged my head last night, and packing away the tent, we set off ONCE MORE from NWB to make that final push to the coast, over the extraordinarily familiar terrain.
We headed off down to the crossing from Hell, over the main road, as all manner of commuter oblivious motorists, and HUGE thundering lorries bear down on you.
We seized the moment, and some how stumbled across on rickety knees, hungover heads, and failing vital organs, to arrive at the little cut through at the other side, where the gradually decomposing car still stands, each year, a little more corroded and rusted away, such is the inevitable joy of oxidation.
And we came to cross the pretty little river NorthEsk, as it wound it's way onward to the sea, just like us.
Only it's feet didn't ache as much
|Crossing the North Esk|
One day, I will go in and buy something.
We avoided the cars scuttling off to do a days work, in some dreadful air conditioned oblivion
We turned left to head along that long road to Mains of gallery and then Maykirk.
I think for chunks of this I walked on my own.
In fact, I know I did.
I had turned on the MUSIC, and had turned of the minute part of my brain that was functioning.
I do remember at some point early on, the clickity-clack of the tri-biped and walking pole team that thundered past lead by I think Bob.
I think they were in a hurry.
I think maybe Bob's feet hurt a bit.
My head hurt a bit, and I did not need sharp noises, so I resisted the urge to catch them up.
I plodded on past that rather FINE white house with the ZILLIONS of windows, and no longer magnificent swimming pool building.
I think it was just after here that Al and Phil stopped for something that may ot may not have involved peeing.
My feet did not want to stop yet, and I carried on at a pedestrian pace, in order to avoid too much percussion with the road surface.
The weather, was intermittent, but not too bad.
Last year when I had walked this self same bit of road with Sandy, it had been extremely hot.
This year, hydration was not an issue.
I plodded on along the road now, with music in the ears singing away to the amusement or horror, of none but the local wildlife.
Soon I had arrived in Maykirk, crossed the bridge, and was turning right, on that Loooonnnggg road that heads up eventually to the sting in the tail, that is the Den or Morphie.
|Straight furrowed ploughing on the way|
The odd car passed me by.
They were normal cars.
You know what I mean
It's a figure of speech.
And then I had dropped through the Den of Morphie, and was up the other side, cunningly avoiding the lady in her posh 4x4.
Onwards and onwards, I had arrived at the track that turns left to Morphie.
It was time for a stop.
I needed a shoe faf, and to add more micropore to the carnage that seems to inflict my fingers an the TGOC.
I also felt it was time to ferret inside the top pocket of the rucksack for some chocolate.
AND I needed some more hydration, to flush out the last of those bloodt Rusty Nails from the previous night.
Very soon, Al and Phil had arrived.
We tallied a bit longer, pondering on the need to add layers of waterproofing.
A rather large cloud appeared to be heading our way, and also it was a tad chilly in the blustery wind.
I seem to remember, or rather I don't, whether we donned said waterproofs.
I do remember the need for several shoe fafs with laces as we headed off.
Soon, Al was way up the track.
He could smell the sea.
I buggered around with my laces again
And again, and then headed off.
I could catch him.
We bundled on over the hill.
Vicky and Toby were apparently behind us, but we didn't see them.
They would turn up at the coast.
We crossed the road, and went past the little row of Gorse bushes.
Yellow as ever.
Headed on down the road towards the cottages at the sea.
We passed a lady walking her dog, with a little boy in a push chair.
I am sure we passed her at the same point last year.
I checked over my shoulder, but I was not being followed by my other self.
Actually I did not know about that spooky second and somehow worri=ying apparition until I saw Willem's photo later.
We passed the small bench, and Phil pondered on stopping there and calling in to say he had withdrawn
Thus, ensuring he had a place next year.
He didn't, because that would have just plunged him into a bewildering cycle of TGOC Groundhog Day repetitions.
Best if he finished.
We wandered up past the little row of bungalow, lookingin to see which ones still had a fine and elegant garden, and which ones had fallen a bit by the wayside.
We crossed the road at the end, pausing briefly to check the bus times.
Wandered past the excellent little coffee shop on the left, resting the temptation.
Trudged down past the large clock tower.
Passed the small primary school, as a couple of Yummy Mummies went in (we had been out a long time, Am I allowed to comment on Yummy Mummies?)
And took the last few paces to the TOP of the cliffs, as we shook hands with Challengers making their way back up.
And then we were there.
At the top of the cliffs.
Looking out to the sea, and to the sign that said.
Dangerous cliff path.
No access to the beach.
We had been told it was fine.
We didn't walk all this bleeding way, carrying bloody great sacks, not to go down to the beach.
A few folk sadly completely failed their Challenge after all that effort, by leaving their rucksacks at the TOP and going down without them.
We know who they are, but we will say nothing.
It is their own conscience, but deep deep down inside, they know that they didn't finish.
|Moody skies coming in from the top of the Cliff|
We slowly made our way down to the beach, passing ascending Challengers.
I piddled around with kit near the bottom, finally deciding that I had too many layers on.
Especially because I would need to go back up
And then we were at the SEA.
TGOC 2013 was completed
The next couple of photo's I had to pilfer from Al's blog
|Me at the coast|
|Les Trois Amigos.|
aka The Temperance Trio
Another successful crossing
Interestingly, by the time we arrived here, we were ALL wearing BLACK
Others soon arrived
|Vicky and Toby.|
The Right Stuff
We had an appointment with a bench just before the top, by the subsidence.
It had cake and beer written on it.
It is an annual thing when we get to here.
|It just had to be done|
And from his rucksack, like a TRUE STAR, emerged a can of Mcewans.
We paused to rest, and to take in again the beautiful view.
My 8th, Phil's 10th and Al's 18th.
I took a short video of the sea, to capture the view, the panorama and the wind.
The wind making incredible patterns on the sea as it blew, and that rather large storm hovered pending great dampness.
And then we went to the TOP again
Said hello to Mick and Co, and made our way back to the coffee shop for tea and cakes.
It would have been rude to not go in.
I scurried out just after we sat down, to turn round the packs as it started to rain.
And then we had a bloody good rest.
Vicky and Toby and several others drifted in.
We had a while before the BUS
All too soon, it was time to leave.
Phil I seem to remember bought the teas, another fine gesture.
We plodded round to the bus.
It arrived a couple of minutes late, but who cares.
Paid our money.
And then in NO time flat, we were in Montrose.
A short walk down to the Park Hotel to catch up with the other 100's of Challengers, and to sign in with the Boss Mt Manning.
Oh yes, and more tea.
And collect socks
And T Shirts
We seemed to stay there for an extremely LONG time
Eventually we made our way down to the bar.
FAR FAR FAR TOO MANY people to mention
I seriously, and I really mean seriously pondered on trying to blag a room at the park.
Phil had a room
And I wanted a room.
It was in the bar here that Marianne (Willem and Marianne) came up to me, and placed into my hand, two small bike lights that had been on her poles.
"Here you are, we have lot's and it's been a pleasure".
How really lovely of her.
|And here they are still happy in their new home|
But Al was going to camp, and as extraordinarily desirable as it was I felt I had to go and spend another night on a partially deflated sleep mat in a field.
So, I wandered down to the campsite with Ian.
It was pretty full by then, but I managed to find a pitch in the middle.
A bit risky with a full site, but I did have those excellent lights, so I hung one inside and one (the red one) I put on the peg of the front stake. Blinking away like a mini lighthouse to warn wary late night revellers.
And then after a bloody long shower, I cleaned up, and spruced up, and put on all my finest, which to be honest was not much, and headed back into the park for the evenings meal and presentations.
I had Phil's Ode secreted in my pocket
|Montrose looking up the hill|
|Montrose looking back down with Trailstar at front|
|Another view up.|
You can see how crowded it was getting.
A veritable maze of tents and Guy ropes.
Can you spot your?
I pretty much stuck all night to Shandy.
I needed hydration, and I did not need another NWB
Speeches were made, and awards given and Phil received his 10th.
|Al took this with flash and is still recovering from the retinal damage caused by the reflective logo|
|Me doing the Ode thing|
I did my speech thing again.
I had toned it down to the abridged version for the massed audience of the Park.
And all too soon, it was finished.
I made my way back to the campsite quite early.
It was quiet when I got there.
It had been another epic, and I really really really needed some sleep.
Tomorrow we would be going home
Another year older
With tattered knees, sore neck and shoulders and nerve damage (as I was too find out a few days after returning).
But you will have to wait for the journey home, and the kit review!
If I have missed anything out, or not mentioned you, then it is nothing personal.
I just can't remember that's all.
By the way, it's ALL TRUE
And that was it it was all over
AND IT WAS ALL PHIL'S FUCKING FAULT!!!!!
And for that I will always be grateful.
So Thank you TGOC team for another fantastic event
St Drostan's team, and the Masons Arms staff for all your friendly faces
Thank you Al and Phil for being such good company (most of the time :-))
And most of all THANK YOU PHIL for inviting me along on your 10th.
IT WAS INDEED AN EXTREMELY EXCELLENT ADVENTURE!