This was planned as my rest day – 4 miles from Mar Lodge then the rest of the day in the fleshpots of Braemar. The weather forecast was not great so I left quite early in the hope of missing the rain. After walking through the grounds, you cross the Dee on the so-called Victoria Bridge. I’d always assumed it was called that because it was built in Queen Victoria’s time – I had never noticed the date on the bridge, which is 4 years after Victoria died. Perhaps it was intended as a memorial.
As I walked along the road, the weather was clearly deteriorating. Black clouds over the Dee.
You can do the last couple of miles on forest roads – but they are a navigational nightmare as there are about twice as many roads in the forest than on the map. This was the first time on the walk where I used the GPS on my phone to check my position. Normally, I just make an estimate but this doesn’t work in forests. In the woods, there is a delightful lochan which looked a bit grey today.
I arrived at Braemar about 11.30 and dropped off my sack at the B & B where I was staying. I did a bit of shopping (excellent pork pies from the Braemar butcher), bought a Guardian and headed for the Old Bakery where I had a second breakfast (bacon roll) followed immediately by their TGOC lunch special (Spaghetti and meatballs).
I decided to have a beer so went along to the Fife Arms, which was getting busier and busier with Challengers. After waiting about 10 minutes with no sign of service, I gave up. It was now raining heavily but I decided to try the Moorfield. I trudged up the hill in the rain in the hope of getting a decent pint but, when I arrived, I found that it was shut. So much for Braemar welcoming tourists! So it was back to the Fife for a pint of very mediocre Guinness. I remembered previous times there in the 1970s where it was full of climbers and locals – it was absolutely jumping – but that was before it was taken over by a tour company.
In the evening, I tried to get a meal in the Moorfield. I arrived and was told that they were fully booked. Luckily Trevor, another Challenger took pity on me and invited me to join him and we had a reasonable although not a memorable meal. Chat and a few pints – I met Lindsay again on her trolley tour of Scotland. No Bingo Wings tonight so headed back into town – I was tempted by the Fife but resisted as I had planned a reasonably long day the next day.
It was still raining. Braemar has its faults and it could get its act together for visitors a bit better than it does but I was glad to be here on such a wet day.