TGOC 2011 Day 14

DAY 14 THU 26th MAY 2011
North Water Bridge - St Cyrus

Distance  13.6 Km   Ascent  208 m   
Dave survives and Roger retires
We rose to another pleasant morning.
Although we had a lot of time, it was nice to get away reasonably early, although a lot of people had gone by the time we left.
We had a chat with the owner. He apologised for the showers, but we said it was fine, and there should be no repercussions, and we set of along the road. I had planned to go to Johnshaven, but you know how it is, somehow, St Cyrus beckoned. So we set off via the Hill of Morphie. Dave's surges from the previous day appeared to be over or so we thought.?
After a gentle start, it soon appeared that Dave was in pain. Actually just after the first left turn near Pert. Al and I were shambling along at a very sedentary pace when we realised that Dave was not there. We waited for him to hobble up. Then Dave and I walked for a bit.
Ian C caught us up just near here, and was soon heading into the distance on his self destructing shoes. Ian seriously motors on roads. I mistakenly in 2010 tried to keep up with him on the way to North water Bridge, just after electrocuting myself on the electric fence at the end of the track at Chapleton, and he destroyed me.
But it appears Dave could not take this, and Dave not being competitive remember headed off in hot pursuit of Mr Cotterill. We should have warned him, but he would not have listened.
I carried on, and caught up with Al. It was road, so we were again walking in softly softly foot mode. We needed to turn right at the railway bridge to go towards Marymill.
We had no idea where Dave had gone, he was riding on the crest of agony in his feet, and the competitive need to track down and beat Ian, or something like that. We thought he might have gone straight on towards Montrose, possibly in a hallucinogenic state brought on by blister induced endorphin or maybe adrenaline overload. However, as we got to the bridge, Dave had stopped just round the corner.
Ian was long gone!
So we headed over the bridge and off to the hill of Morphie. That nasty little sting in the tail of the road walk to the Coast.
I walked with Dave for quite a while after this. Al in the meantime had long abandoned his schoolboy chum and was gone.
As we headed up the track at Morphie I left Dave and headed off to try and catch Al, so we could go to St Cyrus together.
It was not to quite happen like that, but I just needed to get over that hill.
It is a long way over the hill.
One of the really noticeable things this year was the Rape fields, or rather lack of them. Normally the fields are bright yellow on the east, but this time because of the earlier good weather (not I hasten on the Challenge), they were very patchy. The field below is the view from the top of the Hill the first time I went over this way. This year there was hardly any yellow at all.
We stopped at the top to wait for Dave, and then headed off across the road and the final run down to St Cyrus. Al had gone off again, and I was doing a bit of shoe adjusting and Music selection. I was feeling good, and in no time flat had Al in my sites. Dave did not have to go to the beach, having only been here for a few days, (painful days admittedly).
And then we had arrived.
We left Dave at the top and headed down to the beach.
Now, I have to say that I fely very very guilty at this point. On the way from the Hill of Morphie, I had motivated Dave with talk of excellent Coffee shops and cakes and a delightful rest. So when we got there to discover that the Coffee Shop had closed down, it was not a good thing.
Dave wandered off to find anything, or maybe just console himself, and Al and I headed off on the long walk down to the beach.
To take the pack down or not is always a subjective decision, but we were both of the pack must go down school which is what we did.
And it is a long way down.
At the bottom we walked to the sea for photo's.
In the past I have done the full immersion thing, but this time I was just going for moist sand. I took a picture of Al first, and then he took one of me.
The hair is still $&1t
Mates! How far had we walked together? So he waited and waited to take the photo. He waited until a wave came in and washed over my shoes and feet!
I then drew the customary finish circle which Al and I signed.
Time to head back up, collect Dave and get the bus into Montrose.
We set off up the path to the little seat half way up.
We still had quite a while until the bus, and I needed a pee, so we sat down. Now I do not mean I sat down for a Pee. I mean we sat down after I had had a pee, nowhere near the seat. Anything else would have been vandalism and a bit uncouth. Al found some fine Ginger cake he had bought the day before, and I spirited a cunningly hidden can of Lager from my rucksack that I had carried from Edzell.
So cunning, that it would have fooled a Fox who had taken an O.U. course in cunning.
It's the little things you know!   I shared this with Al, despite the fact he deliberately waited for the wave to soak my feet!
We didn't tell Dave about the beer! It would have been unkind.
Refreshed, and with a bus to catch, we set off to the top, collected Dave, and waited briefly for the bus to Montrose, which strangely when it arrived was full of a lot of scruffy looking individuals with great big rucksacks.
In next to no time we were in Montrose.
I grabbed some cash from the machine on the way, and then headed down to the Park Hotel.
The old and the New guard at the Park  (Roger and John)
I collected T Shirt etc, and then after a cup of tea or three, headed down to the bar.
Shortly after this, Dave headed off home. His car was parked in Montrose, in fact at the Park, and he had a long way to go, so we said farewell.
Only time will tell if Dave comes back for a full Challenge Time and forgetting the pain!
Al and I had to find Humphrey, so that I could hand over the Strathcarron collection, and signed card that had travelled across with me, and they could sort out all the other details.
I won't go into these here because Al has it all documented far better on his blog and 2011 write up. But a goodly sum was collected and more importantly, a lot of signatures.
Eventually it was time to head off to my B&B. This was a bit of a trek out of town. I had stayed there last year, and it was an excellent B&B.
When I arrived it was time for a long shower. I got my stuff set out in my room, and also hung Wendy up for an airing in the garden. It was pretty windy, and she needed to be tied down well for fear of ending up in Montrose Harbour. She was pretty wet, on the grounds that there was quite a lot of rain last night, and she had not had a chance to dry out. In fact she came out like Tent Soup.
Showered and clean, in fresh clothes, and with Wendy all nice and dry and packed, I headed back into the Park Hotel at about 6.00 to the meal, and a bit of socialising.
On arrival, Al said, get your coat in there on a seat, which I duly did, and then after a chat with a few folk, it was time to go into the meal. An important meal, it being Roger's farewell.
So bottle of wine purchased it was time.
A pleasant evening spent, many speeches and all round congratulations.
Apart from the splendid presentation to Roger, there were of course all the new Legends, and the paintings.
Heather, Ron and Phil
Rogers Speech
Denis's brilliant picture
And then it was suddenly rather late, and time for a long walk back to my B&B.
I watched TV for a while, not being able to get to sleep and then it was over!
One Day you are a million miles away and it seems like forever, and then it is all over.
Some say that it was the worst ever weather, and a hard Challenge. But really it was just a Challenge with a bit of weather.
It had been another excellent adventure.
Once upon a time many years ago I had said never again. But I was already thinking of my next start point!
Many Thanks Roger!  
And, Many Thanks everyone I met who yet again made this such a fabulous fortnight!  
See you again soon I hope!  
Craig Erickson Doomsday Blues

TGOC 2011 Day 13

DAY 13 WED 25th MAY 2011    
Tarfside - North Water Bridge
Distance  26.7 Km   Ascent  186 m 
In which Dave runs off and we walk the Waters of Solitude
A Bit Dark on route
For completeness, I have put in all the maps, but the first bit of today is just road. As it happens, rather a lot of road.   An awful lot of road.
Got up quite early, the weather being good, and you already know how I feel about packing tents in the rain. Then went over to St Drostans with full kit for breakfast, and to say goodbye and thank you. There were quite a few in, and several cups of tea later, plus a can of beer that Al was donated from Denis, we set off.
I do not know where Denis acquires beer and lager from. His pack seems to have a Midas capability. Indeed Denis was decanting another bottle of whiskey into half a dozen smaller bottles. I do not know if that was the days ration, and it seemed rude to ask, Denis being a Legend and all that.
I have done many routes from Tarfside in the past. Indeed the only two I still want to do from there, is Stonehaven, and Clash of Wirren down to Brechin. But that is for another year.
This year Al suggested road to the Rocks of Solitude.
Not having done this, and having seen Phil wax lyrical about it, and even though I really hate road walking, I agreed, and off we went. I will not discuss the road walking, or give pictures because to be honest it is dull. But it is quick!
By just before Milden Cottage, Dave was in serious foot trouble. He had been well bandaged that day, but was in rather a lot of pain. Having no medical kit at all (he was on a bit of a Challenge learning curve), we stopped and I gave him assorted pain killers. These would not cut in for a while, but you would not have thought that from the pace that Dave took off. One minute he was with us, the next he was gone. 
Al and I have learnt over the years, that roads need to be done at an even pace, and softly on the feet, so we resumed our gentle stroll down the road.
At one point we stopped briefly to watch the Sand Martins in a large sandbank by the side of the road. I cannot remember where this is, but Al I am sure will be along in a minute to fill in the gap.
By Auchmull, Dave was long gone.
A few sweets later, we were almost at the start of the Walk by The Rocks of Solitude. And not a moment too soon, because I was now Losing the Will to Live after all the road walking.
Now whether the walk by the Rocks Of Solitude is worth all that road, is a very subjective, but it is a very pretty walk, and definitely worth doing. If I did it again, I would go down the river on the other side and then come back across, because I am not a road fan, but anyway, here are a few of the pictures of that bit, the rest can be seen on the web album.
Rock hewn out by hand to make the walk
Deep Gorge
Add caption
Al by the seats part way along, with Denis's Lager gift
By the time we got to the seat, it was time for a sit down. At this point, there was a light shower, but with all the cover, we could not feel it, just see the rain through the trees.
It is a very pretty meandering walk along the river, and over small bridges. Towards the end, the main path moves away from the river briefly. Here you could see the devastation caused by the wind on some of the trees. It brings into perspective just how strong that wind was.
 Looking back along the river just before the blue door exit and the road
Once you get to the road, it is a quick cross to the other side of the bridge, and then the river path carries on along the other bank, all the way to Edzell, coming into Edzell past the bridge across the river.   A really nice way in.
There was quite a bit of evidence of storm damage on this side too, and on several occassions we had to step over or round fallen trees and branches. Definitely a great little route.
On arriving in Edzell, we went to the cafe for a cup of coffee. We met Dave just as we were arriving. He had hobbled his way in at jogging pace, and was just off to the campsite. We said we would see him later.
There isn't really much in Edzell, but the people here are really friendly.
So, after a goodly rest, and sustenance, we popped over to the shop to get some cakes. Well I got a pasty thingy and Al bought heaps of stuff I seem to remember. Only problem was, we couldn't get any beer there, and there is none at the Campsite. Eventually we discovered that they sell it at the shop just down from the Post Office, and so on our way out, we headed there to buy some bargain price Ale.
After this, we headed back to go over the bridge. This was actually closed for maintenance work, but it being a bloody long way round unless you go over the bridge, and since there were no workmen on it now, it was the way to go, and it would appear that everyone in Edzell just ignored the notice as well. Also, earlier, there had been workmen working on it, so how dangerous could it be? We still went across one at a time, and did not bounce up and down on it. Normally this is possible, because it is one of those really springy suspension bridges.
The bridge, taken last year
Having sprung across the bridge was wandered through the farm, and then headed up the road to the campsite. This is a very very long road, and although conversation is sometimes nice, this was time to plug the ears in and head off at boogie speed.
So, out with the Music Player, and off we went. Al was ahead, because I was faffing around finding the right track. Eventually I decided on Clapton & Windwood doing a Live version of Voodoo Chile. Well, it would do for starters, and it does have road boogie all over it.
Click to Boogie
And thus it came to pass that the road was done.
There were some people coming along one of the tracks to the right as I danced past skipping and stuff. On the grounds that one of them was walking with a decided limp, I apologise for dancing past.
We caught up with Dave and Maggie who were just turning left near Northgate to pick up the back road/track to the campsite. It is about the same distance but no traffic.
Al and I were on a roll now, and anyway I was oblivious and boogieng, so we stuck on the road. And then we were at the campsite.
In no time flat, we had booked in, and tents were almost up by the time that Dave and Maggie arrived. This was just as well, because shortly after that it started to rain again. Which it did for quite a while. This was not really a surprise, there had not been one day without rain.
At this point, I would normally put some photo's in, but alas I did not take any. I know not why. If anyone who reads this has any photo's of the goings on, then please send them to me via the blog, or message board.
Since it was raining, I decided that I might as well have a shower. This turned out to be a good move as it happens, because soon after, there was a big problem with the heater and the timer on it, and the hot water for showers ran out.
There were a few disgruntled people, and even discussion of formal complaints, which hopefully never happened. This is a great little campsite, and has done us proud for years, when many campsites no longer accept small tents. It would be a calamity of huge proportions if North Water Bridge campsite was not available.
After shower I spent a while in the room at the campsite. I charged my phone, and then had a game of Pool with Al, or maybe Dave.
I say a game, we did draw an audience, but this was mainly because of the appalling quality of our play. What was a game of Pool, descended into a comedy duo.
After us a few more played, and then Dave came in to have a game with the reigning Champion.
Now Dave is not competitive (YES HE IS!), and eventually after lulling his opponent into a sense of false security, cleaned up. Well that's what he said anyway, because by then I had finished my diary writing, and headed off back to the tent to cook some food.
Then amidst rain showers and other things, there was a small birthday party and cake cutting ceremony, followed by a shared bottle of Whiskey, and it was time for bed.
Tomorrow was going to be the Coast and the End of the Challenge.    


TGOC 2011 Day 12

DAY 12 TUE 24TH MAY 2011 Gelder Shiel - Tarfside

Distance  32 Km   Ascent  869 m
In which 3 go for a walk, and Dave discovers why he needs better shoes
As you can tell, I have survived the hernia operation! Don't get one, they are fine, but the post operation hurts like a B!£c&

It was time for an early start today.
So Al and Dave and I were up, packed and away by 7.30. We wanted to be gone before Tony cooked his breakfast!
So along with Hein we headed off to Spittal of Glen Muick. It is a bit of a way, but the weather was good. What a change 12 hours can make. There was a goodly dump of snow on the top. There is a track from the bothy, but it is easier just to yomp up and over the heather to pick up the higher LRT.
Lochnagar from near Gelder Shiel
It is a good track over to the Spittal of Glen Muick, although very gusty winds higher up. If we had been doing a shorter day, in better conditions, I would have considered taking the track up to Lochnagar. But today was not the day for such an adventure.
By the top of the track, we were making good time.
Dave was not yet in full yomping mode, and so sometimes he had rushed on ahead, and others he was walking with us, and others behind. Actually, it is good walking with Dave when he is not at top speed, because we can talk about heaps of stuff.
As we arrived at the bottom, we got to where the track crosses the Alt na Guibhsaich. Today with a bit of care, this was quite crossable, although poles helped, and I lent mine to Dave. I can only imagine what it must have been like yesterday. Un-crossable possibly.
Soon we had dropped down through the wood, and past the buildings to Cross over the flat plane to the Spittal of Glen Muick.
Rhododendron bushes just before crossing to Glen Muick
Al had gone off at speed. This may have been the lure of the toilets in the car park, or it may just have been that Dave and I were chatting away. As we got half way across, Dave realised that he had dropped his gloves. We could see them lying on the track. So I took some photo's, walked very slowly while Dave received his gloves at some speed. It was very windy crossing, and as we went across, there was a brief shower.
Looking back to the Rainbow as we crossed to the Spittal
The river half way across, from the bridge
By the time Dave and I got to the information hut (the refuge for at least 12, the previous night), Al had headed to the car park. So Dave and I dropped our packs, and also headed to the car park, where the temporary toilets are sited.
I will admit now, that I used one of the ladies toilets.
I did go into one of the men's, but this was not a pleasant place, and far be it from me to even try and describe it. No sir, that image you do not want. Ever!
The weather was still good, but very very blowy, and it was now time to head up the path and over to the Sheilin of Mark. This is a very nice little track up by the river, crossing about half way along on a small bridge. One of Al's favourite types of bridges, narrow, and with no rails.
And today it was windy. Very windy, and interesting. 
You had to wait for a lull in the wind to get across quickly. 
I wondered why Al was standing there, as I was coming up.
Al had gone on ahead, but Dave had taken a tumble, and so we were a bit slower.   Fortunately, he did not hurt his ankle or knee, when he fell. He did almost lose his rucksack cover, but we persuaded him to take it off at the bridge.
Dave gets water at the bridge
The river just past the bridge
Al and Dave on route
  Visibility was great, and we were soon heading over the top to the bothy.
I think the bearing is approx 105° from the end of the river. Despite the weather, it was actually dry, and nice walking. Al was off on a mission again, and Dave although he did not say anything until much later in the day, was struggling with blisters.
View from the top on the way over to the Sheilin, looking back to Lochnagar
Al and Dave heading over to the Shelin of Mark bothy
At the bothy, I removed my thermal top and allowed it to dry in the breeze. Then we collected some water, and made some soup for lunch. Although the weather was good, it was still very windy, and the bothy gave a nice shelter. Just after we got the soup on the go, Ian arrived.
I seem to remember something about English Whiskey as well.
It is a nice bothy, although quite small. Dave is applying another layer of socks. Maybe not the best socks, being cotton.
We set off fortified to go over Muckle Cairn. On a good day, this is not a bad route. The ground underfoot was still surprisingly dry, and the river crossing easy.
Looking back from the top of Muckle Cairn
Just over the top, we had a brief pause and a sit down, before descending to Glen Lee. This was mainly so that I could have a shoe and gaiter faf. Well, a shoe Faf and take off my gaiters.
At the stables of Lee, we met some other Challengers. We could also see another Challenger in the distance who turned out to be Maggie.
Me Al and Maggie in Glen Lee
We set off towards Loch Lee, in intermittently blustery conditions. Ian would overtake us, then take some photo's, then overtake us .......
There were waves on the Loch, and it was a fine view Al and I were really cracking along at a goodly pace. Indeed I had fallen out of Al's slipstream, and was now being buffeted by the wind.
Meantime, Dave had fallen off the pace, and was struggling with sore feet. These were blisters that were on the increase. Later at Tarfside we would discover that he was developing some fine Blisters  
Along Loch Lee
Waves on the shore at Loch Lee
Just at the end of the Loch, we hankered down behind the wall at the end of the Loch to get some shelter from the wind. Dave caught us up, and admitted to foot issues. Just as we were about to do the final run into Tarfside,  Maggie caught us up.
So together we set of along the short bit of road before cutting up by Westbank. Al and I were chatting, and Dave was walking with Maggie.  
The Keep at Kirkton. Al stopped for a Pee just round the corner, by the sign that says danger falling masonary.
It was time to carry on. Dave and Maggie were almost with us, but we headed off again discussing earlier crossings, and Al reminiscing and stuff, and anything to take the mind off the aching feet, as the Tarfside Ladies, (and I include Pieman in that group) beckoned.
It is a nice little stroll over via Westbank. I have promised that one day I will go up to the monument. One Day!
Just as we dropped off the track into Tarfside, we met a nice man in a pinny, or not as the case actually was. This was the bearded Lady of Tarfside, known as the Pieman, alias Mike Knipe.
We were also rather looking forward to a can of Tarfside Ale, and a bacon butty. On the way down, Al and I had deliberated on tent first, or St Drostans, but eventually came down on St Drostans, on the grounds that this involved, Tea, Biscuits, Beer, Bacon Butties, and booking the evening meal early. As well as a reunion with all those wonderful Tarfside Ladies.
So imagine the shock and horror on our faces when Mike told us that there was no power there. 
Now had we been talking to any other man, we would have believed this immediately. But this was the Pieman, so of course we just assumed this was a windup.
Mike insisted it wasn't, and then to our utter horror, showed us the tree branch lying through the power lines.
But we went in anyway, and of course even though they only had a single twin camping gas stove, they were still managing to churn out the bacon, and tea and coffee. And there was the beer as well, and the company.
So it was all ok (well, apart from the evening meals), and normality was resumed (almost)
When we got to Tarfside, there were quite a few tents in already. So we got our tents up quickly lest it rained.
Wendy and Wanda on the green in Tarfside
There was quite a lot of interest in Wendy & Wanda at Tarfside. It is not often in the UK that you see one Stephenson Warmlite, let alone two side by side.
So we got our tents up and so did Dave. It was at this point that Dave's feet needed some attention. I went to have a look at his blisters with my blister packs. Dave's blisters were to say the least, impressive. Unfortunately, Dave had left his feet without care and attention for too long. This was compounded by cotton socks, shoes that were just not fully up to the job, and water ingress during Monday, and having no First Aid Kit. Result, wet feet, then blisters, then bigger blisters, then more blisters.  SO.. minimum sympathy deserved really, but a steep learning curve for Dave! I suggested new skin, or decent size padding and also draining the blisters. I was going to have a go at the sorting them out, but in the end I left it to Dave. They were after all his feet, and he is a big boy. I do not think he drained them, but to drain or not to drain is an individual decision. Eventually, Nurse Maggie came to Dave's rescue, and administered chiropody and bandages. This was good thing on two counts. Firstly, I did NOT want to really go near Dave's feet. Secondly, it was much better for someone else to sort him out, so a big thankyou from all of us there!
By this point, it was getting a tad windy outside and since there was no food at St Drostans, (because of the power line issue), it was either cook your own, or get some food sent up from The Retreat.
Some waited for the Retreat delivery, I decided I would cook some food up, and as I had not allowed for an extra nights food, Al gave me a bag of his fine own dehydrated food. So fully sustained, it was time to head over to the Mason's for one or pints of something or other.
We tried to lure Dave out of his tent, but he had temporarily plummeted into Blister Depression. So we popped into the Masons, and managed to grab the last few cans of Guinness. While Al was acquiring these, I got a can of Mckewans, and headed off to try and lure Dave out of his hermit like state.
It is amazing, the therapeutic power of the Golden Ale, and within another 15 minutes Dave appeared. Result!  
  Al, Ian, Jim and Dave in the Masons
TeeTotal Nights
No idea Bad photo Where did I get that nose from?
It was another fine night at the Masons, and we all went back to our tents relaxed and watered.
Only two days to go, the adventure was almost over now for another year.
We just had to get Dave's feet to the coast!