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]

Tuesday 21 May 2019

TGO Challenge Day 11 - Tarfside to North Water Bridge

Monday 21 May (from 0800 to a time that neither of us can remember! Maybe 1530?)
Distance: 15.5 miles??
Weather: showery

St Drostans Lodge at Tarfside is a religious retreat hostel that is available to rent. For a few days every May it is taken by previous Challengers (or even current - as I said in my last post, two of this year's volunteers had walked across Scotland in a week, so they could man Tarfside in Week 2) who offer food, drink and accommodation, with profits going to charity. There were only four Challengers in the hostel on Sunday night (plus one camping) but even so, the volunteers were all up and in the kitchen before 7am on Monday morning to cook breakfast for Mick and Byron.

We would have been away not long after 7.30 if our next kit failure hadn't occurred: Mick put his arm through the fabric of his windshirt. We'd been saying for a while that it was getting a bit thin, and finally it had given up. The repair kit was dug out for the second time in 24 hours and I sat myself in a comfy chair by a window with a needle and thread to effect a functional, if not neat, repair.

The walking that then followed was a complete contrast to Sunday, being slow and leisurely with ad hoc breaks.

With the Buskhead Bridge at Tarfside still out of action, it was a trudge down tarmac to the next available bridge. I say a trudge, but Mick's poorly tendon is much preferring road at the moment, and if it could be dead flat road that would be perfect. Downhills are paining him most.

Taken from Dalhastnie Bridge

Once across the bridge it was tracks that we have both walked before, Mick more than me, to Edzell.

No track just before Edzell - the farmer had ploughed right to the margin. It wasn't nice.

The usual Challenge haunt of the Tuck Inn was closed, but Sinclair's Pantry across the road was open and there we found Byron. My greeting was to come very close to throwing his coffee over him. By accident, not design.

I'm not sure a warm goat's cheese salad can reasonably be called thus when it is served with only five salad leaves, but what it lacked in quantity it made up for in taste. Mick's sandwich was more substantial.

North Water Bridge turned out not to be as distant from Edzell as my memory suggested, but when we finally joined the B-road on the other side of the river (having taken parallel tracks for a while), that road seemed to go on for weeks. Happily every vehicle bar one gave us a politely wide berth.

It had been raining as we left Edzell and it was still going when we reached the campsite and pitched the tent. It hadn't been heavy enough for us to don waterproof legwear, but we were a bit soggy on arrival.

No matter. Our clothes had made it all bar 9 miles across Scotland without a wash, so my first priority was to get a load of laundry done so that I wouldn't be so offensive to the noses of other passengers on the train tomorrow.

By the end of the evening there were just three tents (all Challengers - us, Byron and Peter A) in the camping area. It will no doubt become a tent town, then a tent city over the next couple of nights.

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