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Sunday, 17 January 2010

The 2004 Challenge, Day 13: Aboyne to Banchory

I crossed the bridge and left Aboyne safely behind me, taking the back road to Mains of Balfour and the track to Allencreich. My route card pretended that I was going to take a rather roundabout way through the woods, past Balnacraig House to Hunter's Lodge and then through Potarch to Tillenteach; but I opted for the rather more direct route via Marywell and Birkenhill. As the end of a Challenge draws near, these round-the-houses detours which looked so enchanting back in December when you were planning the route tend to have this habit of looking ever less enchanting!

At Tillenteach I turned right onto the road, and then left onto the track through Slewdrum Forest. There were forestry operations in progress, and some of the tracks were closed - so I ended up following the path on the south bank of the Dee all the way to Bridge of Dee. Which is all very well, except that on arriving at the bridge I found myself on the wrong side of a large, imposing gatehouse and a pair of very impressive wrought-iron gates, which were locked! Fortunately, however, the gatekeeper saw me contemplating the problem of how to get over them, and came out and unlocked them for me!

I crossed Bridge of Dee, and took a pitch on the caravan site on the north bank (back then they allowed tents; I do not believe they do any longer - although I have to say that on the other side of the road it is possible to geet down to the riverbank, and this would make a very fine pitch for the night!

I did not feel particularly keen on cooking for myself that evening - so I went and had a very fine meal at the Banchory Lodge hotel. The place is eye-wateringly expensive; but well worth it.

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