Day 12. Potarch to the outskirts of Aberdeen

For once I had an early start and packed up and left the Green at Potarch at 6.45, before the other Challengers were stirring. Food was running out so all I had left for breakfast was a couple of utterly boring cereal bars with my tea.

Potarch campsite
Potarch campsite

I know the route to Aberdeen well – all on the Deeside Way and through forest tracks. The first bit is a bit of a slog up the hill for about and hour then you turn into the Blackhall Forest and follow forest tracks to Banchory.

There were lots of cowslips (I think – someone will correct me if I’m wrong) on the way up to the forest – not something you see a lot of in Scotland. Some of the forest had been clear felled – which leaves a bit of a mess but at least it does open up the views. I had an uneventful walk through the woods, emerging near the car park at Scolty hill in Banchory.

Cowslips near Potarch
Cowslips near Potarch

Day 12. Clear felling in the Slewdrum forest
Clear felling in the Slewdrum forest

Banchory is a douce, respectable place  and Banchory folks are the kind who go out for coffees so there are lots of cafes but, thankfully, no Starbucks yet. I was anticipating a 2nd breakfast of bacon rolls but obviously Banchory folks don’t get out early in the morning – at 9.40, none of the cafes were open. So, frustrated and hungry, I abandoned the idea and set off along the Deeside Way. This walk is OK after you get past the Banchory sewage works although sometimes a bit too close to the road for my liking. You usually see fisherman around Banchory and, sure enough, there was someone fishing that morning – I didn’t see him catch anything though.

Day 12. Fisherman on the Dee
Fisherman on the Dee, near Banchory 

Milton of Crathes is the next village where there is a very active railway preservation society – there are always people working on old engines. Just over a mile of track has been rebuilt and there are all sorts of old rail vehicles around.

Railcar near Milton of Crathes
Railcar near Milton of Crathes

I headed for the cafe at Milton of Crathes and, to my surprise, met 3 other Challengers who were also heading for the same end point as me at Girdle Ness, south of Aberdeen. They had come from Banchory and were a little surprised I had made it from Potarch by 10.45. I lingered for a while after they left and then I got my head down and bashed off the next 9 miles to arrive at our house in the early afternoon. So, to everyone’s surprise I made it to Anne’s birthday dinner. Brownie points gained – possibly to be cashed in next May.

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