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 16 May 2014

Day 8 - Findochty to before Banff


Friday 16 May (0730-1600)
Distance: 19 miles (Tot: 151.5)
Weather: sunny and warm. Patchy high thin cloud this afternoon.

That was a splendid day of walking, in splendid weather, that took us through various little picturesque fishing villages, along spectacular coastline, and into lots of little remote sandy coves. It's a wonder we got through such a warm day, involving so many perfect little coves, without indulging in a brief dip in the sea (I'm sure that the sea temperature would have ensured it was very brief!).

In contrast to the last few days, more effort was involved today. Gone are the long flat beaches and in their place the coast has become lumpier and more rugged, thus climbs over headlands were followed by descents into coves. One of those descents was on stone steps which I noted, on my way down, were well made and perfectly pitched (none of the common failings of steps so long that you're always on the same leg, nor so tall that you have visions of giants being the designer's model user). At the bottom was a large memorial to the man who, in 1987, apparently built those perfect steps single-handedly.

As well as the increased lumpiness, we even had some periods of boulder hopping and bog-trotting today, to make us feel more like real Challengers!

The most effort was required this afternoon, when, shortly after lunch overlooking Portsoy (where they neither make port nor soy sauce...) we walked off the end of the path marked on the map. For a while, a path did continue, but when that ran out we stayed in coast-hugging mode regardless (and at one point probably wouldn't have got away with our route through a quarry (straight under its conveyor belt) if it hadn't been a Friday afternoon with only a couple of people left on site).

The afternoon need not have involved quite the amount of effort we expended; we did weave up and down unnecessarily at times, when we could just have held a sea-level line. We must have excess energy to burn (it must be all the butteries* we're eating, thanks to the regular supply of shops along this route).

After the village of Whitehill, the final mile of the day, along a tarmac cycle track, was fast and easy, and we could see our campsite ahead of us. Cruelly, we had to walk the entire length of the site to reception, only then to be sent all the way back to the place we had originally entered. I did ask whether we could have a nearer pitch, but apparently, being a tent, the rules prohibit us from pitching anywhere other than the 'outcasts' area - even though there are plenty of empty 'touring' pitches far closer to both the reception and the facilities. Sigh!

I should mention today's photo: I'm not sure how well you can make it out in this little snap, but it caused an 'oooh' when we spotted this ruin atop a rocky outcrop. A nearby information sign told us that it was Findlater Castle, dating from the fifteenth century, and the artists impression showed that it must have been an imposing place in its day.

(*Butteries: a Scottish bakery product that I would describe as a cross between a croissant and a flattened bread roll, with a slightly salty taste. They go down very well for second breakfast, the only shame being that we don't have any marmalade to go with them.)

(BTW - for anyone who thinks I witter on far too much, I'd just like to say that I only wrote three brief paragraphs about today. My proof-reader rejected it as being too short and asked me to add more.)

Click here for Day 9

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  1. That campsite smacks of the officious Caravan Club. They only permit tents on a few of their sites, and that is the kind of treatment I have experienced - in particular intractable rules.

  2. je prefere vos postes longues - avec toutes coloures et aromes - pas seulement les graines emascule
    (en les Pyrenees jusqu'au moment - en plein soleil, apres balade verticale en neige, foudre, tonnere et pluie formidable et dangereux)

  3. I did well, keeping Findlater a secret. Knew you'd like it!