The Road goes ever on and on; Down from the door where it began;
Now far ahead the Road has gone; And I must follow, if I can;
Pursuing it with eager feet; Until it joins some larger way;
Where many paths and errands met; And whither then? I cannot say.

[JRR Tolkien, Lord of the Rings]

Friday 27 May 2011

Day 12 - North Water Bridge to St Cyrus

Wednesday 25 May (0835-1150)
Distance: 9 miles?
Weather: a couple of showers

There had been 30 tents at North Water Bridge, many of which had gone by the time we were making a move. In common with most of those that remained, we joined the rush to de-pitch as the edge of a shower blew through at about quarter past eight. It wasn't bad timing anyway as a few of us had agreed the night before that we would walk together to the coast and 8.30 was the start time agreed.

With Challengers ahead and Challengers behind, we were a party of six as we took to the little lanes heading roughly east.

With only one break taken, it was just before noon that we headed down the steep cliff path (trying not to think about having to walk back up there afterwards) and across the beach to the sea. Amongst our number was Louise ( who was a first-timer. It was one hell of a Challenge for a first timer, what with the weather having been somewhat ... ummm ... challenging, which must have made it all the more sweet a moment to have reached the coast. Louise certainly had a very big grin on her face as she stood on the edge of the waves.

Disappointingly the tea room in St Cyrus is no more, but fortunately the bus service to Montrose is regular. A dozen or so people boarding the bus, complete with big rucksacks, and paying with £10 notes, did cause a bit of a delay to the service, but we were soon in Montrose.

Having signed in at Challenge Control, tea and biscuits were provided as we sat around comparing experiences with others there until the next wave of new arrivals came in, whereupon we repaired to the bar. A celebratory drink seemed to be in order.

There the conversation turned to the burning question: Where are you going to start from next year? And do you know what? Not a single person present proclaimed "Never again!". It's an addictive thing this TGOC!

Click here for TGOC Finish Photo

Sent using BlackBerry® from Orange



    Well no, not really. I do have some ideas for the next route in mind...

  2. Tough Challenge for everyone I think. Not sure why you would single out first-timers per se though since it's experience of backpacking and knowledge of the hell that can be Scottish weather that is important!

    I know lots of people whose experience and knowledge of Scotland's hills is at least equal to any regular Challenger and who would have no trouble crossing Scotland in just about any weather. You won't find them on an organised event though.

    All the same, well done to everyone this year.

  3. Jon - Not only did you not shout 'never again', but I distinctly remember you saying something about using a tent *next time*! I see that you've now had second thoughts on the tent vs tarp point, but fully expect to see you TGOCing again.

  4. Gerry - You make a very good point. Before we first did the TGOC we encountered one Challenger who was particularly patronising in telling us about the difficulties and hardships of walking across Scotland. Even when we mentioned that we had backpacked in Scotland before we were told that the TGOC would be much harder than anything else we had done and that it would involve carrying much more gear (why?!). And yet here I am voicing comparable assumptions.

    What I should have said was that it was rather a baptism of fire for any first timer who hadn't had previous experience of walking for 2 weeks in such surroundings on such an event.

  5. Well done, Gayle, and Mick. I've just enjoyed reading your account (top of the list of 550 items on Google Reader!).
    I think you had a more eventful Challenge than me and Poor Michael - we had no significant leaks, no ticks, no deer fences, no significant river crossings, no wet clothes, etc, etc. My phone remained dry in a trouser pocket without the protection of so much as a sandwich bag...and so on.
    It was a bit windy on Ben Avon, but hey!
    It was however the worst run of luck with wet weather that I can remember, since a wet week on Skye many years ago, and four FWA days meant an easier crossing than planned. My luck has subsequently changed back to normal, so I can commend a visit to the Yorkshire Dales next week.
    Have fun

  6. I thought more a baptism by water, personally.

    Living in Scotland, I know quite well that the weather can throw anything at us at anytime with no warning or explantion, so I did feel quite chuffed to have survived as a first-timer on this particular Challenge, but I think even the most experienced Challengers did well to survive too. I'll never forget 'that' Monday!! However, I suppose a lot of first-timers may have been put off returning if they thought those conditions were normal or perhaps worse could be expected.

    (I'll be back, whispered)