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Tuesday, 5 July 2011

The 2011 Challenge, day 13: Alford to Inverurie (5)

As I descended through Bennachie Forest, I discovered that the waymarking wasn't as good as it pretended to be. Up on Bennachie there had been regular signposts like the one in the picture. The impression I got was that the car park and the visitor centre were an item, and so when I came to a junction in the woods where the visitor centre was no longer signposted I did not consult my map and compass to try to determine which junction it was and which path I should take. Rather, I simply continued following the car park signs.

This took me onto a track which was closed for forestry operations, with a diversion indicated off to the right; and this started climbing strongly over Millstone Hill which did not feel at all right. There was a small track to the left, heading in the general direction of the original track. When I came to a main forestry road I turned right onto this, assuming that I was back on the track I had been diverted off. But the views did not look right, and it kept swinging away to the right, and I soon decided that I was not on the path I wanted to be on nor heading in the direction I wanted to be going in. A compass bearing along the track soon confirmed that I was all wrong. I guess I should have used the GPS to confirm my exact location (it's what I have it for, after all, and it seems silly to lug that weight all the way across Scotland and not to use it when the circumstances require its use!) but I didn't think of that. In my defence, I should say that the GPS is a very recent - and reluctant - acquisition. I am still very much an "old school" navigator, well drilled in the idea that the way to work out where you are is to look at the ground around you and compare it with the map until you find a fit.

Well anyway ... passing swiftly on ... I soon relocated myself and got back on track. I descended to the road, and went to pay a visit to the visitor centre (it's free) which contained a lot of interesting stuff on the history of Bennachie. I also saw, in passing, another glorious pre-grouping railway van in use as an agricultural store at Whitewell fam. No doubting the pre-grouping credentials of this one, which had great solid outside framing timbers; and when I got back, my railway friends on the internet identified it as being of Great North of Scotland origin. Not very far from home, this one, as the GNoS system was centred on Aberdeen, and the railway had its works at Inverurie ... which was one of the reasons I wanted to go there!

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