I thought this was going to be a tough one when I looked at the map last night... If it sounds like this is a surprise to me, you must remember that Phil planned the route and I was happy to bimble along with him ~ after all said and done, he is quite good at it!
So I left my little estate bothy perched high above the Findhorn at 7:35 and that's quite early for me. It was already quite warm. The Findhorn River hereabouts is quite, quite serene and it almost seemed a shame to cross it ~ I should have lingered on the bankside and watched the oyster catchers. But instead, shamefully, I pressed on up the hill and over the top.
On the way down the other side a young man in an estate landrover (with rifle strapped behind his seat) pulled up alongside; he was looking to see how the grouse were doing and by all accounts they are doing well this year ~ he had seen quite a few nests where a dozen or so chicks had all hatched successfully. It was now a question of them surviving the predators.
I popped into another estate bothy for a morning coffee and then toddled off to the next bothy (there are zillions hereabouts!) where I learned inside of a young Royal Navy Airman, of just 19 years old who crashed in his Seahawk very close by and died in the flames, despite the best efforts of the shepherd who was in the bothy at the time. It was almost 50 years to the day since it happened. There is no memorial at the spot; just some tangled wreckage. The encapsulated note on the bothy wall made for quiet reading.
Onward! To Knockdu, which was a sad little place, with it's eyes poked out, on the other bank of the stream. Then a bit of a sapping cross country bog hop and clamber out to a road for a glorious few km before leaving Lochindorb (a peaceful spot with a mob of curlew) and thence heading south on an LRT.
Then it was a bit of a nightmare: I just could not find the path (and neither could two other Challengers, Ant & Doug, half a day ahead of me) so it was a very rough, tough bog hop for three miles until another LRT was reached. Plain sailing subsequently but I arrived at the campsite at Grantown a bit knackered.
I suppose this is what it's all about; a Challenge.
Anyway after 17.5 miles I am safe and well in a very good Indian Restaurant having bathed, washed the smalls and having rung 'Challenge Control'.
I must now look at tomorrow's route to see if I can have a 'lie-in'. Somehow, I doubt it!