(Posted from Kingussie!)
Today: 16.6 miles
Total so far: 1262.0 miles
Percentage Completed: 75.6%
(Click map to enlarge)
A cold night, and the morning is bright with gusty showers and I am away in moderate time, climbing up the Fungle Road to head towards Aboyne. It is a good track and not a difficult day ahead, so I have my sights set on the hotel at Dinnet for a spot of lunch.
At the top of the Fungle I pass a brand spanking new shooters lunch house, built in stone, with a nice veranda and the tables inside already set for lunch. It looks quite splendid and so I carry on with renewed purpose for the hotel.
Dropping down the woods on the Fungle is quite magical; you pass through wonderful Caledonian pine woodland and the going underfoot is easy. Nearing the bottom, the map marks a 'seat'. I have no problem finding it; it is a beautifully made crescent of stone on a diamond shaped platform over looking Aboyne through the trees. It is a serene spot and I take five to enjoy the occasion and place. There is a calming verse etched into one of the entrance rocks; but you must go there yourself to appreciate the place.
The staff at the hotel at Dinnet are antipodean and warm & friendly. I am soon a couple of pints to the good with a 'trio of sausages' and a rather good onion gravy and mash. She lights the fire for me and I am alone in the lounge, sinking into the comfort and quiet of the place. I am having a very calm day!
But the cycle track beckons and soon I am Sir Nigel Gresley and the Duchess of Montrose once more, steaming up the old railway to Ballater.
The views to distant Lochnagar are quite spectacular - I am sure if you were to photograph it and ask a man in the street where he thought it was, he may come up with Canada; the spaces are big and empty and the landscape majestic. I can never understand why so many Brits take their holidays abroad when there is so much beauty to be found in our own islands, even for the idle motorist!
I am erecting Wanda on the campsite, when who should stroll over but Roger Boston. Roger is a true 'Man of the Mountains.' His Challenges are real epics of Munros and Corbetts and wild out of the way places, usually camping the whole trip. He is tanned and smiley (he is always smiley) as he is about to complete a rather special walk of his own. He walked from his home at Elgin to the start point of the Challenge at Strathcarron, did the Challenge to the East Coast and now is walking back up to Elgin - taking in billions of Corbetts enroute!
We adjourn to the pub recommended by the campsite warden. It is an awesome venue - with karaoke in one bar and table service dining in the next. The decor is amazing - black polished granite tops with LED spotlights that change colour all the time. The bar furniture is in polished chrome with black cushions. It has only just been refurbished - you really should see it for yourselves…
The food is good as is the beer (Courage Directors) and then we wander off to the the nice pub at the bridge and settle in to watch the highlights of the Grand Prix with a few Guinnesses and several large Grouses as we get on fine with the staff.
A splendidly quiet day to start with and then a splendidly social day to finish!