Friday, 31 December 2010


Well, that’s the end of another year. I’ve been thinking about all my achievements this year, which I usually avoid doing, but this year has been a good one.

After my failed first attempt at a Munro

VLUU L310W L313 M310W / Samsung L310W L313 M310WDavid made a successful summit of Gleouraich.

I then had success in Glen Feshie

SDC10456when I climbed Sgor Gaoith. I was very proud of myself.

We also successfully introduced three of our children to the joys of big hillwalking when we took them up A' Chailleach


This was an amazing experience, quite overwhelming and the stags roaring in the valleys below added to the extraordinary atmosphere that day.

There’s been many successful girly walks this year, filled with much laughter and great pleasure. I’ve also made some new friends, finally meeting a handful of TGOers in Tomdoun in May and since then I’ve met up and walked with Laura a couple of times and I’m really looking forward to many more giggle filled walks in the New Year.

Then, of course, there was my successful entry into the Challenge. This will be a major achievement in 2011 and one I shall relish.

It’s not all been good. There was another family bereavement in the spring, in David’s family, and the news in October’s announcement was truly devastating. As yet, we don’t know what will happen to us, so from that point of view, we enter into 2011 with some trepidation, but there’s nothing we can do about that, we just have to wait.

All in all, it’s been a busy year, but on the whole a good one. Here’s hoping 2011 holds some nice surprises and not too many difficulties.

Happy New Year to one and all, Slàinte Mhath!

Thursday, 30 December 2010

Christmas catch up

Well, we fair galloped up to Christmas, what with three Christmas dances, Brownie pyjama party and singing carols at the inmates in Leanchoil hospital, a girly walk, last minute shopping, present wrapping and food preparation. The Royal Icing  instructions for my mum’s Christmas cake clearly says, “One snow scene coming up!”. It should read, “One avalanche coming up!” because that’s what I always seem to end up with. Next year, it’ll be bought, ready rolled icing…
Christmas itself was wonderful. Just how I like it, the six of us, nice and quiet. Well, as quiet as it can be  with new Wii games to amuse themselves with. Did I get a bit competitive whilst playing Just Dance 2? Might have. Certainly burnt off more calories than I usually do on Christmas Day, that must be a good thing!
David had a duty on Boxing Day, so that was a quiet day too, with more dancing and a couple of films.
The girls had managed to collect quite large sums of money from their recent birthdays and Christmas, so they wanted to shop. David thought he should stay at home with the boys, so “Christmas Holiday Tuesday” saw me heading to Inverness to The Sales. I hate shopping. No, I’ll try that again. I HATE shopping. With a passion. I HATE shopping at The Sales even more. All those sharp elbows and hangers click, click, clicking on the rails. I simply can’t bear all the clothes dropped on the floor and left lying, I feel compelled to pick them all up, but it’s not my job, arrgh!
Anyway, they were happy and spent a little of their money.
As you can see, there has been no walking and I’ve been beginning to feel a little like a caged animal, but there is hope on the horizon. Yesterday, whilst in town, David popped into Millets and bought Ciara and Conall new walking boots. These boots are currently being worn around the house at every given opportunity, (I’d be surprised if they didn’t spend a little time in bed last night) and their first outing is planned for a short walk around Loch Morlich on Sunday. Should still be quite pretty around there, not wet, grey and slippy in places like here.
In the meantime, there’ll be more dancing.

Friday, 24 December 2010

Twas the night before Christmas

Twas the night before Christmas, when all through the house
Not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse.
The stockings were hung by the chimney with care,
In hopes that St Nicholas soon would be there.

The children were nestled all snug in their beds,
While visions of sugar-plums danced in their heads.
And mamma in her ‘kerchief, and I in my cap,
Had just settled our brains for a long winter’s nap.

When out on the lawn there arose such a clatter,
I sprang from the bed to see what was the matter.
Away to the window I flew like a flash,
Tore open the shutters and threw up the sash.

The moon on the breast of the new-fallen snow
Gave the lustre of mid-day to objects below.
When, what to my wondering eyes should appear,
But a miniature sleigh, and eight tiny reindeer.

With a little old driver, so lively and quick,
I knew in a moment it must be St Nick.
More rapid than eagles his coursers they came,
And he whistled, and shouted, and called them by name!

"Now Dasher! now, Dancer! now, Prancer and Vixen!
On, Comet! On, Cupid! on, on Donner and Blitzen!
To the top of the porch! to the top of the wall!
Now dash away! Dash away! Dash away all!"

As dry leaves that before the wild hurricane fly,
When they meet with an obstacle, mount to the sky.
So up to the house-top the coursers they flew,
With the sleigh full of Toys, and St Nicholas too.

And then, in a twinkling, I heard on the roof
The prancing and pawing of each little hoof.
As I drew in my head, and was turning around,
Down the chimney St Nicholas came with a bound.

He was dressed all in fur, from his head to his foot,
And his clothes were all tarnished with ashes and soot.
A bundle of Toys he had flung on his back,
And he looked like a peddler, just opening his pack.

His eyes-how they twinkled! his dimples how merry!
His cheeks were like roses, his nose like a cherry!
His droll little mouth was drawn up like a bow,
And the beard of his chin was as white as the snow.

The stump of a pipe he held tight in his teeth,
And the smoke it encircled his head like a wreath.
He had a broad face and a little round belly,
That shook when he laughed, like a bowlful of jelly!

He was chubby and plump, a right jolly old elf,
And I laughed when I saw him, in spite of myself!
A wink of his eye and a twist of his head,
Soon gave me to know I had nothing to dread.

He spoke not a word, but went straight to his work,
And filled all the stockings, then turned with a jerk.
And laying his finger aside of his nose,
And giving a nod, up the chimney he rose!

He sprang to his sleigh, to his team gave a whistle,
And away they all flew like the down of a thistle.
But I heard him exclaim, ‘ere he drove out of sight,
"Happy Christmas to all, and to all a good-night!"

Clement Clarke Moore

Sunday, 19 December 2010

Mince pies and mulled wine

We convened for the Christmas Girly Walk at Lidl’s car park on Saturday and everyone was full of festive cheer as we fidgeted to keep warm in the snow and ice. We were Angela, Alison, Pip, Rikky, Sarah, Judith, Sally, Jo and me. Angela had intended us to have a sip of mulled wine before setting off, but had dropped the flask in the porch at home. As it was an old fashioned glass one, she’d decided not to sieve the contents, but rather to bring a bottle of Baileys, so those that liked had a good measure from a plastic cup before we left at a good pace towards the forest.
Angela took the lead (I had the map and route…) and we were soon heading down the track on the wrong side of the hedge. Judith put us right and that was the only near mistake of the walk. We’ll put it down to the snifter. It was a simple route, a mix of back roads and forestry as we wended our merry way. The going underfoot was mixed, a lot of snow, some compacted to ice and some fluffy and light, but the weather was mainly good. We had one decent snow shower, a few light flurries, but plenty of blue skies and winter sunshine, although it was decidedly nippy at snack and comfort stops.
We reached the car park at Wellhill to find the public conveniences open (usually locked during the winter) and there was a cheer as several of us took advantage of the porcelain. There was hot tap water too, wey hey!
Walking through Culbin always makes me nervous, I am notorious for getting lost in this forest, so how I’d got in charge of the route and map I’ll never know, but we made it through to Cloddymoss without event and I was proud. Here, we celebrated the season with our favourite walking friends and enjoyed mince pies and mulled wine (from Jo’s sensible flask).
Deluxe mince pies, six between nine was tricky
SDC11085 From the left, Jo, Rikky, Sally, Pip, Sarah, Judith, back of Alison’s head (the best shot of the two I took!) and Angela in the silly hat, say n’more
There was a glow about us and lots of good humour. Maybe a little tottering in places, but we’ll put that down to the ice…
Onwards every onwards, towards Dyke for a parcel drop off en route, to meet the Other Louise and sadly to lose Judith who begged a lift back to town for another engagement. Then a slight detour to kill time, just so we didn’t arrive at The Old Mill, Brodie, too early. (I personally don’t think it’s possible to arrive at a pub ‘too early’, but I might be getting myself a little bit of a reputation…). We headed down the track towards Brodie Castle and through the grounds to look at the frozen pond with staggering swans. I think someone wanted to walk around the pond, but luckily the consensus at this point was that we could go to the pub, phew.
We had a lovely ‘light bar snack’ and maybe a glass of wine or real ale, but I think we may have been a little too jolly for the place, our waitress certainly didn’t appear to appreciate our humour. Oops.
After a lovely walk and meal, there was a flurry of activity as  transport arrived to take Sarah and Pip, Alison and Rikky  in opposite directions. Angela and the Other Louise decided to walk back into town and the remaining three stayed at the table to drink coffee, eat chocolate and muse a while. After a short time there was much messing with mobiles, none with a signal and one without charge, but somehow we managed to hale a taxi (Jo’s husband and son in fact) and the Hardcore were at last transported home.
It was indeed a Merry Christmas walk!
9.12 miles walked
265 feet ascent (no lumps, hence the speed!)
3 mph average
49 minutes 54 seconds resting (it was a tad fresh for standing around!)
3 hours and 03 minutes moving

Thursday, 9 December 2010


The snow itself hasn't caused me any problems, but it has been causing problems around me.

I had walked forty three miles in ten days, but once the snow closed the schools for a couple of days then stopped parcels being delivered, my walking was curtailed and I've now managed nine miles in eleven days. This is not good so close to Christmas.

To make life more interesting, we've had a 'major BT Broadband outage' for 48 hours, so whilst I've been holed up waiting for the parcels to be delivered, I've had no entertainment. This would explain the four kilograms of marmalade now nestling in my cupboard.

And the half knitted fingerless mitts.

Haven't got round to the Christmas cards yet though. Just couldn't quite bring myself to do it.

Still, the champagne arrived yesterday so this morning I was able to get out onto the now nicely compacted snow for a play in my Kahtoola Microspikes. I may have been a little smug as I strode passed the other pedestrians, sliding along the slippery path. (Actually, there was only one other pedestrian...)

Oh well, best get on, emails and blogs to catch up with!

Monday, 29 November 2010

Snow doesn’t stop play but does make life a little more interesting and deep holes…

Yesterday was a girly walk and so, we did, despite the accumulation of snow. Only one girly dropped out, but we understand that, she does live further afield along the coast. The intrepid six were Angela, Alison, Judith, Jo, Sally and me.

SDC11046 David and I cleared the car before we set off

SDC11047The tree was pretty

We left Forres after a change of plan. Normally, we would have taken a more off road route, but today the road seemed a better choice. We made our way out by the hospital, past the farm and the quarry and then up the long and winding (and uphill…) road to Califer Hill viewpoint.

SDC11050 A waterproof moment as the snow put in it’s first appearance on this walk

SDC11051 The road ahead

SDC11053 The road behind (or was it the other way around?)

We persevered and once we reached the viewpoint, we had a snack stop (and a comfort stop for some). There were a couple of abandoned cars which the nursing staff among us felt compelled to check for freezing inhabitants, but thankfully, none were found.

SDC11054Towards Burghead SDC11055Over Findhorn marshes and Culbin Forest towards Ben Wyvis, I think SDC11056In the direction of Loch Ness, maybe


Pretty snow!

So, on we walked and although road walking is not usually much fun, it wasn’t like walking on tarmac today and we just chatted and trudged our way through the tree lined lanes, with occasional snow flurries (dumps…) and blue skies. It was actually a really lovely atmosphere, very relaxing.

Then behind us was a noise. A vehicle, but not an ordinary vehicle. What could it be?

“Oh look! It’s a quad bike!”

“I’d laugh if it was Greg!” (Jo’s husband.)

And so it was! Alison had never been on a quad bike before. She has now!

SDC11059 Alison hitched a ride

SDC11060More pretty trees 


Onwards down the valley, the intrepid walkers trudge

We were soon heading down the other side of the hill to Angela’s house for a very civilised lunch of Carrot, Orange and Ginger soup and a slice of Chocolate Cake, yum. Alison had arrived before Pete and the little girls, so she’d had to do some breaking and entering to make sure the soup was on to heat up in time. Maybe there are hints of a miss spent yooff? There was some male company at the house, it’s a long time since we’ve had male company on a girly walk, so it was a welcome treat and a relief for Judith, as her leg muscles had gone into spasm again (as they did on A Return to Portsoy) so her husband had arrived to convey her home in warmth and comfort.

SDC11065 Soup! (It matches the table cloth. To hide spillage?)

SDC11062The lovely view from Angela’s kitchen window. (That’s not a ski jump, it would be heading the wrong way!)

SDC11063Weather from Angela’s window 

Soon, we were on our way, but a split group. Angela accompanied Sally part way to Pluscarden, Jo, Alison and I made our way towards Rafford before Alison and I completed the walk to Forres.

SDC11067Less snow on the road, later in the day

SDC11068Sheep in the gloom

I think Alison and I walked the furthest, 12.1 miles, Jo totalled 9.89 miles. I’m not sure how much Angela and Sally did, but it was 6.56 miles to Angela’s and a further 4 miles, roughly, to Sally’s, so Sally totalled 10.56 miles and Angela probably wasn’t far off. Judith managed a good, uphill walk with her poorly leg.

1195 ft ascent overall

2.7 mph average, surprisingly

We left at 10 am and Alison and I were back in Forres by 3.50 pm, so with stops, I think we had a good day!

You’re right, I didn’t explain the deep hole.

You see, I hate being passed by large vehicles on the road. I have a tendency to end up in the hedge, trying to get as far away as possible. This time, I went over the snow drift into the ditch (commonly known as a dyke in these parts, unfortunately) and landed up to my waist in snow. My lovely new gaiters still kept the snow and wet off my lower legs though!

Thursday, 25 November 2010

Good stuff

In the previous post, I mentioned Webtogs and their excellent service, particularly free P & P.
This is always a bonus, and this website is one of the few that actually offers what they promise, free P & P. So often, I find I’ve placed items in my virtual basket, gone to checkout only to find that, because I have an IV postcode (included amongst a list of others), I am denied free P & P and would have to fork out as much as £15, or sometimes more! It’s ridiculous and obviously quite unnecessary, as this site proves. Not only that, but I ordered the items just before lunch on Tuesday and they arrived this morning. Fabulous service if you ask me!
And of course, new kit has to be worn. (Although, I did walk with ‘someone’ recently who had a new Paramo jacket, but hadn’t worn it “To keep it clean…”, or “For best!” as I put it.)
So I trotted upstairs, popped the leggings on underneath my Screepants (OTT? Naahh, bl***y freezing up here!) and then zipped up the gaiters and off I went.
Ok, the gaiters might have been overkill, but one just has to do these things.
I went to the marshes, thinking they might have been living up to their reputation. As luck would have it it was remarkably dry, so I kept the gaiters clean. And there weren’t any men with shooty-bang-sticks after the geese either, so that was a bonus.
Of course, I love my new leggings, (merino etc., etc.,) and the gaiters are at least comfortable with no condensation on the inside when I got home. They’ll have more of a test on Sunday on the Girly Walk, the path from Califer Hill to Sourbank is always a nightmare!
SG102401The debris

Retail therapy get out clause

This all started a while ago really. I’d been going through my kit to sort out what I wanted to take with me on the Challenge and to work out what, if anything, I needed or needed replacing. Actually, that could be a fib. I just like new kit. Anyway, I love  my layering system, it works for me, but whilst I’m very happy with my Smartwool base layer (merino is my friend) and bamboo tee-shirt, I wanted a long sleeve merino (as before) mid layer to replace the long sleeve bamboo. (I know, I want never gets…). I also tend to wear legging under my Paclites and the ones I currently use are an old pair of aerobic leggings that I’ve had since my early twenties. So, I’d surfed on and off for a while and picked the Icebreakers (and again…) that fitted the bill. I’d had to make a second choice of top because the one I really desired was unjustifiably expensive, but second choice would do the job. We’d also been discussing new gaiters. Our old ones (that’s not the royal ‘We’ by the way, David was included in this part) were Peter Storm and whilst they’ve done the job so far, we need something better now our walking has evolved into something more serious.

(And breathe.)

Imagine my utter delight when the first choice top was reduced by 40% and P & P free! I did debate for a while if I was maybe being a bit rash, a little hasty perhaps, but all of a sudden, there it was in my virtual basket, card details entered and they were winging their merry little way from NZ! Gosh, how did that happen.

I thought I might as well just go mad, and off I went to Webtogs to look for gaiters and the desired leggings. Rab Hispar gaiters were there, in our sizes and they had been very favourably reviewed in TGO Magazine. The Icebreaker Bodyfit 200 leggings (getting boring now.) were also there, with 10% off and free P & P!

The point, of course, was justifying said purchases.


On arriving home for lunch on Tuesday, darling hubby is welcomed with a peck on the cheek and a cheery,

“Hello darling!”

Suspicion duly aroused, darling husband responds,

“What have you done?”

(Why does he always think a sign of loving affection means I’ve done something?)

“I’ve bought my Christmas present from you to save you the stress and it was a bargain too, so I’ve saved you money!”

“Oh, great! Saves me the bother!”


Saturday, 20 November 2010

A good balance

Laura and I met at Bridge of Brown this morning, both of us early again. We set off up the (steep!) road for a short distance, passed the cafe which was closed, to take a track along Allt Iomadaidh. It was a somewhat grey day, but actually not too cold with very little breeze apart from a short stretch up to our highest point of the day. We had a brief shower too, but that was a little later, whilst we were concentrating on keeping our feet dry.


We soon had this view behind us

The track started well, but we knew it wouldn’t last and we were soon splashing our way through puddles and bog, interspersed with a little mincing through the heather.

SDC11017This was a good bit ahead

SDC11018We happened upon this ruin and a brief discussion ensued about good places to pitch.

The track continued on across fairly open moorland with what would have been good views towards the Cairngorms, but there was some low cloud that hid the hills from view.

SDC11019 Would have been the Cairngorms

SDC11021 The view to our left

On we went with red grouse laughing at us all the way along our route, they knew something we didn’t, we thought. Even though we were chatting as we went, we managed to spot the junctions and pay attention to the correct route.

Once again, we were heading uphill and we did pause to look up the path to the top of Tom an t-Suidhe Mhoir and discuss how we would have made our way down off the other side, but not today. At this point, the breeze had picked up and there was a chill in the air. Onwards to find a lunch spot.

Soon, we were going down hill where we had a waterproof faff by the Burn of Brown, which we were to ford. Several times, if we followed the track marked on the map. We decided, however, discretion was the better part of valour. The left hand bank, where we eventually needed to end up, was broad enough to skirt along the edge of the burn without fording, which was a good plan as the burn was quite full and strong today. We met a couple and their dog coming in the other direction and they had obviously made the same decision, he assured us “There is a kind of track all the way.” Kind of was an over statement.

So, we slipped, slid and splashed our way along the bank, it was a tad wet in places, and boggy, but we persevered and David would have been so proud of me as I didn’t end up face down in the mud. Especially after having just claimed to be balancing so well without sticks… (Laugh? Me?)

We continued.

The path took us by a small wooded area and we decided it would provide enough shelter for a lunch break, so a comfy spot was selected and a picnic was had. It was actually a lovely spot with views out across the opposite hill with a ruined farm building, Tom Beag and Tombreck.

After lunch and a comfort break, we continued on up the slightly variable path, with more chatter, splashing, sinking and much giggling. Eventually, a little bridge came into view over the burn back to our cars.

SDC11023 The rushing burn

SDC11024 The photographs don’t do this fabulous mini-gorge justice, the patterns worn into the rocks were beautiful and the water was tumbling with incredible force on it’s way, the noise was tremendous.

SDC11026Beautiful parking

This was a lovely walk! Admittedly, it was a short walk, but we were taking a possible weather situation and lack of daylight into consideration to allow us both to travel safely to and from home.

6.96 miles

2.4 mph average

2 hours 55 minutes walking

1 hour 33 minutes resting/faffing

I had a lovely day and I’m already planning our next route. It seems we’re going to take it in turns to choose and plan a route and perhaps try to out do each other with the amount of mud and bog.

I think I’m winning at the moment.



Friday, 12 November 2010

The trials and tribulations of route planning

Now, I've been planning this Adventure for more than two years. I've planned a solo route that became a team route and another route for the future, when I'm more experienced and feeling brave. (Plenty of time on my hands, ahem.) So, when I got the Envelope I'd been hoping for, I thought my plans would swing into action smoothly and my Route would be winging it's way through the ether to Roger and a vetter in just a few days, to avoid the rush.
Sitting in front of my 'puter with my Route on Memory Map, I decided I should do a bit of tweaking. I don’t want to start at Mallaig now without David. I’ve done this boat trip on my own before and wanted to start from here with my trusty side kick (I’m a softy, be gentle with me) plus I’d been less than impressed when we’d dropped into The Tomdoun last year to meet up with a few Challengers, so another good reason to adjust the start of my walk.
I also decided that the route towards the end would need some alterations to avoid a Big Hill without my trusty side kick to, er, ‘encourage’ me.
Doing these alterations, however, has led to a hiccup. I really wanted to plan in a day off. I really wanted to start with a few shorter days rather than three long ones and avoiding the Big Hill later on meant a long day after my hoped for rest day, which seems to defeat the object. It seems to be a little tricky to fulfil all my wishes, I’d never get a job as Santa.
I should be in a circus, all the juggling I’m doing.
My maths might improve with all the practice.
Might have to just bite the bullet.
I’ll give it some (more) thought…

Monday, 8 November 2010

Laura, Louise and the Laughing Cows

I think they were you know.
We agreed a date and time to meet and were both early, always a good start. After a quick faff and a conflab, off we set on our little ramble on the Glenlivet Estate. It was a fine day, a light, cool breeze with some low cloud or mist on distant hills as we made our way on a reasonable track. It wasn’t reasonable for long.
As we trekked uphill, over stiles, through a gate and on into the bog, it became clear we walk in a very similar manner, a reasonable plod with heavy breathing and regular pauses uphill. Makes life a whole lot easier!
Towards the Ladder Hills
SDC11003 Curious Star Jelly stuff, must investigate!
On we trudged, slithered and squelched until we joined the Speyside Way and what a disgrace that was!
SDC11004 Upwards on the Speyside Way (this was the best bit)
And on we went, chatting all the way. ‘Cos we’re girls and we can!
Soon we reached Carn Daimh, with it’s pile of rubble and plinth, took a few photographs, admired the ravens and decided it was a bit chilly up here for lunch and we’d drop down the other side of the hill into the trees for shelter.Good move!
SDC11006The distillery
SDC11007 Rubble and plinth
Lunch was very pleasant. We sat sitting in front of a recently cleared area of trees that looked a little desolate but opened up views of the hills. Well, would have done had we been able to see them clearly, but I’m sure they were there. The path down this side of the hill and into the trees was a vast improvement and we enjoyed it while we could. Once we back into open ground, it deteriorated once more, but led to much hilarity and kept our spirits high, despite the wintry shower at this point. Onwards we ventured, following the virtual path through heather and bog to rejoin the dismal Speyside Way.
Making our way through the last bit of woodland was tricky and nearly led to wet pants, but we recovered ourselves and eventually emerged the other side, opting for the cyclists gate rather than another stile (there’d been a few) which would have taken us boggily downhill.
We had been following this track downhill, avoiding stiles where possible (our little leggies were tired of stiles) but in the distance I spied a large gathering of cattle. They looked a bit like a group of hoodies on a street corner and we felt they were best avoided. The avoidance plan eventually brought us out over a fence to a ford, just beyond the hoodies and on their side of the fence, but they’d obviously lost interest and just watched, probably having a good chortle at our expense. A plank was kindly placed to aid the fording, but wading through the mud either side to avoid wet feet seemed pointless, so we splashed through the shallows instead.
The farm track mud was not so easy to avoid and I managed to pick up about a pound per foot. Eugh.
We herded some sheep to a different field, I’m sure the farmer will have found them by now. Soon we rejoined our outward route and returned to find our cars, still alone.
I think other people know about this route. It would be lovely, if the path was as good as it should be. If I’d been on my own, I think I’d have found it quite demoralising, especially the sleety middle bit, but I was in excellent company and we had such a good giggle, I still  enjoyed myself.
We’ve agreed to meet again, I’ve challenged Laura to find something less boggy!
I think Laura has more photographs and maybe a few statistics over here, I forgot to switch my GPS on at the beginning of the walk. Nothing to do with the talking.

OO er

I'm in.
Now The Adventure begins. Yey!
(What have I done?)

Monday, 25 October 2010

Return to Portsoy

Last November we did this walk, but it wasn’t a complete success as it rained persistently and we ran out of daylight, so we had to abandon the walk at the Sandend distillery and I was thrown into the car of a complete stranger to get back to my car and return to rescue the girls.
We gathered at a really unsociable hour in Forres and as volunteer driver, I drove in the general direction of Buckie. Here, Jo and I abandoned the girls and drove on to Portsoy, left the car at Jo’s in-laws and cadged a lift to Finechty where we strolled west along the coast path back towards Buckie to meet the girls.
SDC10936 From the left Angela, Rikki, Judith, Sally and Jo
Jo and I turned on our heels as we joined up and continued east along the coast path for a comfort break in Finechty.
SDC10937 The toilets were open
SDC10938Finechty Harbour
It wasn’t long before we arrived at Portknockie and as we regrouped, some of us had second breakfast, in the street , beside sheds in front of a row of houses. Odd place…
SDC10941Portknockie SDC10944
Second breakfast
We continued on in fine, dry but very windy weather and as the wind was coming from a north-westerly direction, it was a bit chilly, but we were all suitably wrapped and managed to find shelter at regular intervals. It turned out that the path along most of this route is quite muddy and terribly slippery in places, but I don’t think any of us did more than the occasional graceful slide, not even me. The views along this coast line are stunning and the crashing waves added to the atmosphere.
SDC10945 Bow Fiddle Rock
SDC10947Looking behind us
SDC10955 Ah…
 On we went and soon arrived in Cullen Bay and walked along the sand as the tide rushed in towards us. We found two tiny streams to cross and passed a chap arranging his gear to do some kite surfing. Barmy, we thought, as we trudged along.
SDC10950Stream one    SDC10956
Stream two
And soon we were in Cullen. Last year, we desperately needed shelter at this point for a lunch break, but this year we were able to have a more civilised picnic at the table outside the powder room by the harbour.
SDC10963 Lunch stop
Powder room
SDC10961 Cullen harbour
SDC10962 SDC10965 Our skip
We popped round the corner to visit last years picnic stop, but I fear the council must have got wind of the six bag ladies that made use of their comfy recycling skip because the gates were locked, so I could only get a photograph through the bars.
At this point, we had to have a waterproof faff, (those that weren’t already kitted up, so not me then!) but we were soon on our way again, along the beach, passed the pet cemetery and foaming waves to climb up to the cliff path.
SDC10967Foaming waves
SDC10968Rather unpleasant cliff path
SDC10969And down the other side to the memorial,( but can’t remember what or who to, I had wobbly knees at this point,) to continue on towards Findlater Castle, an extraordinary place built into the jutting cliffs.
 SDC10970 Lovely rainbow
 Findlater Castle
It was a day of showers, but unfortunately mainly of hail which, with the force of the wind, was like a free course of exfoliation, just on one side of the face.
Onwards, ever onwards towards Portsoy, but first we had to tackle Sandend, the very reason we were back on these breathtakingly blustery cliffs.
SDC10975A lot of the paths along this whole route were edged with barbed wire. Lovely
SDC10977 Looking back towards Sandend
Last year, we crossed the river at the middle left of this photograph and walked along the beach only to struggle to find a way across again or onto the path. This year, as you can see, the tide was so far up the beach we couldn’t even have attempted to cross, so took mine and Angela’s route from last year up to the fence and over into the cow field. The cows were further away this time and totally oblivious to us as we worked as a team to get over the barbed wire fence safely. Why is the ground always lower on the other side? We went through the field, over the gate and down to the newly built bridge.
SDC10980 Which we crossed and then had a snack stop before finding the path again over the last cliff top. Actually, as we went up this path, we came across some steps from the beach. We hadn’t needed to cross the river a second time last year. I think if we hadn’t been so bedraggled and weary by that point, we might have been thinking straight and noticed them. Maybe.
SDC10982This was a lovely stretch of path, broad and trimmed, so much easier than the previous twelve miles. Portsoy soon hove into view and we once again had a spring in our step.
SDC10984Our goal, at last
SDC10985 The final harbour of our five harbours adventure
(Statistics from Finechty)
12.9 miles
4 hours 54 minutes walking
1 hour 37 minutes resting
Between 2.9 to 2.6 mph moving average, slower towards the end
1987 ft ascent
All in all, not a bad day!