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Saturday, 13 November 2010

The 2009 Challenge, day 11: a monumental old yomp

I headed out of Ballater on the Deeside Way, which is the trackbed of the old Great North of Scotland railway branch to Ballater. It is easy walking - which is why I chose it, of course - and I made good progress to Cambus o'May and on to Muir of Dinnett. I stopped for morale-lifting coffee and cake at a tearoom in Dinnett (and believe me, my morale DID need lifting: because I may not have withdrawn from teh Challenge, but I had abandoned my planned route and made a break for teh coast by the easiest, flattest route - which is almost as bad).

I took lunch sitting watching the gliders take off from the Deeside Gliding Club, and pressed on through Aboyne. I somehow found myself on the wrong track in Bell Wood, but it was easy enough to make my way through the trees and rejoin the right track. I stopped to watch a beautiful horse being worked at Drumgesk Farm and exchanged a few words with the handler, and before long I was approaching Kincardine O'Neil.

The idea, of course, had been that I should overnight here. But it was 4 in the afternoon, there was a steady drizzle falling, and there didn't look like being any place to stay. For the sake of a few more kilometres, though, I could be at Potarch - where there most definitely IS a hotel. So I gritted my teeth, ignored my screaming blisters, and pressed on.

I was just about all in by the time I reached Potarch; but as I crossed the bridge and thought of that nice, hot meal, followed by a good soak in the bath and a warm, soft bed I knew I'd made the right choice.

Or at least, I WOULD have made the right choice if only there had been room at the inn ... but there wasn't!! They had a fishing party in, and they were fully booked. I really didn't want to spend the night in my tent if I could avoid it, so I looked at the map and gritted my teeth - it was six o'clock now, and another ten kilometres would get me to Banchory. It was all road work. I could be there before the light failed. So I went for it.

Those were the evilest, most painful ten kilometres I have ever walked. But I did it! And I was in Banchory before half past 8. BUT ... could I find a hotel with a room?? Even the Banchory Gate was fully booked .. and of course, the camp site no longer takes passing trade like me.

Ho hum.

Thankfully, the staff at the Banchory Gate were kind and helpful, and rang around a bit to find me a B&B with a vacancy. It was on the main road, and although it didn't do evening meals it was right next to an Indian restaurant, so that was OK! I ate Indian and turned in ... having somehow managed to get myself a day ahead of schedule!!!

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