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Thursday, 18 November 2010

The 2010 Challenge, day 13: Cortachy to Brechin

We discussed routes, John and I. He was going to Brechin. I had planned to go to Friockheim, and to camp by the river. But there was a camp site at Brechin and I wanted to see John safe, so I modified my plan.

We walked by road to Prosen Bridge and then through Inverquharity, then down over Forest Muir and past Over Bow to the bridge over the A90.

As we did so, and gazed back the way we had come at the hills we had left behind, I took this picture. And then my battery gave out ... so I would not be able to record the last couple of days of road walking.

Which is a shame, because it was not actually all road walking, and some of it was really rather beautiful.

We took the back roads through Carseburn, then turned left to West Carsebank, and left again passing under the power lines and up Hill of Finavon in what felt decidedly like the wrong direction. We encountered a little difficulty at the end of the track, where the junction with the path from Parkford is a little enigmatic, and we had to resort to a certain amount of fence and ditch-hopping. But we got through, and followed the path over the crest of the hill before stopping in a little stand of trees to sit and enjoy our lunch. The views back to the Angus glens were quite beautiful, and it is a pity that I had no more battery power in my camera.

While we took our lunch another Challenger chanced by, and he walked with us a little way before our paths diverged.

John and I followed the path and track along the foot of Hill of Finavon to Bogardo - which is a really enchanting way to go. Beyond Bogardo, however, things got a little more difficult. The clear path marked on the Landranger Map is not so clear on the ground; and without knowing which field boundaries it was supposed to follow, we soon found that the track we were following was NOT the path shown on the map. We resorted to following field margins in the correct general direction and then pointed at the buildings which could only be Woodrae, and made our way through in the end. But it would certainly have been helpful to have had the 1 : 25000 map on this occasion.

Beyond Woodrae we took the road through Balgarrock to Netherton. Again, this is a really beautiful little back road, and the stretch through the woods is especially lovely.

At Netherton we joined the main road - the B9134 - which would take us to Brechin. A light rain had started to fall and we had put our coats on. We debated waterproof trousers. Decided they might be a good idea. Went to put them on (and I to change from sandals to boots) ... and the heavens opened! In the time it took me to get my full waterproofs on, it went from being questionable whether they were really needed, to a solid wall of water falling through the sky. And through this, we walked the remaining distance to Brechin, taking the back road through Burghill then turning left to enter the town on the A933.

We arrived at Brechin a little after five and headed straight for the Bridge End bar and a pint. Then we debated what to do. Neither of us fancied going onto the camp site to pitch in this weather. And even if the rain lifted, the ground would be waterlogged and camping a whole load of no fun. I seriously considered just putting my head down and yomping to Montrose. I cold be there by 8; and were it not for my concerns about John, I might well have done so.

While we were still debating our options, the barman came to our rescue. He telephoned around and found us a couple of rooms for the night at the Caledonian Hotel. He drove John out to a working cash machine to enable him to draw funds to pay for his room and to reimburse me for the room at Cortachy House, and then he drove us both up to our hotel - which was once a proud railway hotel, but was now looking about as run down as the rest of Brechin. Not that we cared, of course. What mattered for us was that we had hard shelter for the night.

I hung up all my wet kit in the little en suite shower room to dry, then I went down to the bar for a meal and a pint. Sitting in the bar of that little hotel in Brechin, I finally began to feel that the 2010 Challenge was finally drawing to a close.

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