I had a rather lovely surprise phone call the other day from my friend Laura. She’s recently returned from foreign climes and was in need of some company and a gentle stroll. I was only too pleased to oblige! We initially thought we might have a few difficulties getting together as Laura is currently unable to drive due to a recent injury and as David is now back at home but needs the car for work, I’m having my own minor transport issues. We decided we could make use of public transport and both came up with ideas that when cobbled together, became a plan.
Yesterday, David dropped me off at the station at a ridiculously early hour, as Laura was getting on a bus. I tried to kill a man with my water bottle as I put my daysack on the luggage shelf, but apart from that, it was an uneventful journey. After a little over two hours, I was greeting Laura at the bus station and we immediately hopped on a bus to Ellon to travel to the start of our walk.
The plan was to walk part of the Formartine and Buchan Way, a route along a disused railway from Dyce to Peterhead. After alighting the bus somewhere in Ellon, Viewranger was used to find our way to the Way and then head south west.
This is an easy route to follow and the going underfoot was mostly good, there was the odd muddy patch and some of the gravel was more annoying than others, but we managed quite nicely.
The weather was pretty good, despite forecasts of heavy showers in the afternoon. There was a pathetic shower as we left Ellon and a few more spots of rain at Udny Station, but it was mainly a lovely warm to hot day with a slight breeze and a few clouds.
The landscape was varied as is quite typical of disused railways. There were views over farmland to distant hills, viaducts, open woodland and deep sided cuttings.
My best guess would be Bennachie in the distance
We made it to Udny Station in good time and were directed by a little notice (that I omitted to photograph) to picnic tables and a pub. The picnic table was well hidden, so I think the notice may have been a ploy to get unsuspecting walkers into the pub! However, the bench was eventually spied tucked away in the corner of the play park and we commandeered it for our picnic. As Laura’s lunch box had leaked some of the vinegar dressing it contained, the wasps found her very interesting. I munched my Baby Bel, cherry tomatoes, Soreen and Nakd Coco Loco bar quite happily, the other side of the table.
We saw very few people and only one to speak to through a fence (who didn’t like Laura ‘teasing’ her dogs!) but we had company on the telegraph wires overhead. Swallows are gathering before the journey to their summer holidays.
We decided against the pub as it looked a little quiet and uninspiring, although this sort of behaviour is against all the rules. We hoped to put this right later.
Our initial intention had been to finish our stroll in Dyce, but Laura was beginning to feel a little tired and her arm was beginning to need a rest, so we both readily agreed to finish at Newmachar and catch a bus from there back to Aberdeen. It seemed like a good idea and would have worked brilliantly if only the 3.30pm bus had appeared! Luckily we only had to wait another 30 minutes for the 4pm bus which did eventually arrive. As we waited we were engaged in conversation by an elderly lady, bemoaning the efficiency of the buses and the heat of the sun. I wished she hadn’t mentioned it as all of a sudden, I began to feel quite unwell! I stepped out from under the shelter and crouched down by a wall where there was a hint of a breeze. Out of the heat I soon perked up again.
The bus whisked us off to Aberdeen and we soon found ourselves at a well known high street coffee chain enjoying coffee (strangely) and muffins (how did that happen?)
We had a great day, the walk proved to be just perfect and we chatted and put the world to rights without getting lost once. Still managed plenty of faffing though!
Approximately 9.33 miles, total ascent 669ft, average speed 2.2 mph (apparently maximum 7.7 mph!!) and total time 4 hrs and 12 mins.
Absolutely brilliant. The question is, what next?