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.
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.
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.
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.
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.