Pages

Tuesday, 12 June 2012

TGO Challenge 2012: DAY 14: N Water Bridge to St Cyrus

Surely, waking up to a sunny day should make you a cheerful chap? It was a bitter/sweet start to the day.

This was the last day of a great walk and possibly, if my Renal Consultant has it right, my last Challenge for a while. Even though we had opted for a relatively simple route after Day 5, from then on I had found each day a tougher day than the last. Okay, some of the days were quite long in terms of mileage, but apart from the day after Callater Lodge there was not too much ascent involved. There was just no “go” in the engine anymore and the longer the day, the more difficult I found it.

So, after realising that Andy was not going to be ready for the off again, I toddled off with Lynsey to stroll the last few miles to the coast, in a reflective frame of mind. We weren’t in any hurry and we were sure Andy would catch up. And, sure enough, as we were resting after the dreaded Den of Morphie and before the final push up the Hill of Morphie, a rattle of cups and all manner of dangly stuff clattering from his rucksack heralded his arrival.

We all sat on a wall as the local postie wished us well. He has seen us flounder up this hill for many years and knew the score. We tried to persuade him to join us but declined, politely. Sensible chap.

Down the cliff path at St Cyrus

Before we knew it we were at the cliff top at St Cyrus. I let the others set off down the cliff so I could have a bit of peace and quiet and a few minutes later, followed them down to dip my shoes in the North Sea a few yards away from the celebrations.

The North Sea

It was a fine moment and I recalled the dozen or so other times I had finished here, the first time with Peter Shepherd back in 1995 on our first Challenge. There have been a fair few changes in my life since then: Some of them pretty wonderful. I am now a Grandad (via my son Oli, who did the Challenge with me almost ten years ago) and my daughter Rachael is expecting a little boy in August.

No doubt, when the ‘spare parts van’ turns up, I’ll be back on the Challenge, perhaps with a bit more “go” about me!

So with these thoughts pushed to the back, I toddled over to join the party a few yards away on the wonderful warm, flat beach.

St Cyrus Challenge Finishers

Sandy, on the sands

Andy Walker, St Cyrus

Ian Cotterill's Picture of the team!

IAN COTTERILL’S PICTURE OF THE TEAM

After a great deal of celebratory slaps on the back and some of Lynsey’s excellent whisky, I added my signature to Andy’s Challenger circle and headed back up the cliff.

Finishers' Circle

At the bench halfway up the cliff, Andy produced another of his miracle beers from his pack. Andy had been a fine companion on the walk this year.

IAN COTTERILL'S PICTURE OF ANDY, ME & SANDY

IAN COTTERILL’S PICTURE

Then it was just a simple dash for the bus to take us to Montrose to sign the Finishers’ Book at the Park Hotel, collect the tea-shirt, badge & certificate and shake John & Roger’s hands.

CHALLENGE DINNER @ THE PARK HOTEL, MONTROSE

IAN COTTERILL’S PICTURE OF THE THURSDAY DINNER

The Challenge has been a wonderful part of my life. Many thanks to Hamish for thinking it all up, Roger for running with it and all the hundreds of Challengers I have met over the years, so many becoming firm friends.

Today’s route: 13.0km with 180m of ascent

TGO CHALLENGE- DAY 14 MAP

Me @ St Cyrus. (Andy's picture)

60 comments:

  1. A good re-tuning and some clean spark plugs will sone give that engine some "go".

    Hope you manage to get booked in for a service soon.

    Your journey journal was, as usual, a pleasure to read.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Gordon
      (For members of the congregation who have yet to find Gordon's take on the Challenge, you can fin it HERE)

      That's very sweet of you. Thank you.

      Delete
  2. Terrific tale Alan, I really enjoyed it! You never know, one year I might have a crack at it myself!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Paul

      Once on the Challenge, you'll have wondered why on earth you hadn't applied before. Go on; Give it a whirl. You'll love it.

      Delete
  3. well done!
    I thought something was amiss when I saw you in Montrose at the dinner, you looked simply grey.
    Hope the 'new parts' arrive soon. Friend of mine had a heart bi-pass op last Dec 29th and he was stronger than me by march, mind you he was a world class athlete in his youth!
    best of luck youth, thanks for the stories. and hopefully we can get together to organise 'a million voices against a million windmills'!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Mike
      I was really shattered by the time I had finished this one. Once home, I seemed to sleep for days!

      "A million voices against a million windmills", eh? Sounds good to me. We need to save what's left of our wild places.

      Delete
  4. Thanks for a great series Alan. And all the best for your health. I hope to see you on many more Challenges.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks Chris - It was fun writing them up. Especially when reading Andy's account in tandem.

      I hope to be back as well, with hopefully a bit more energy! In the meantime it will be shorter duration walks while I can still get away.

      Delete
  5. Great read (reads?), Alan. And I'll bet you a bottle of Coal Ila that you'll be back on the Challenge before I am. Very, very best.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. There's quite a waiting list for the spare parts, but I'll gladly take you up on your bet! To be back on the Challenge and to feel fit again will be well worth a bottle.
      I suggest we share it.
      :-)

      Delete
  6. Well done, mon ami! Loved reading your Challenge posts....I'm sure there'll be more to come. Hope to see you next year - if I can organise myself better then than this time.......

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I was dismayed to hear that you had become a casualty, Missy.

      But if it's peeing down, your gear is wet and you're not enjoying it, then it's totally understandable.

      I hope we do bump into each other. You're a smasher!
      x

      Delete
  7. I hope they fit the 'retuning' in soon - the challenge wouldn't be the same without you! Where else would we get such entertaining write ups!

    I'll bring some even better whisky to sample at the beach in 2014 so you'll have to be back by then....

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Monsieur Lambert, having done nine Challenges, is a 'cert' to get on whenever he wants to apply these days.

      He's a bit of a whisky fiend and a mean Sloe Gin maker too. With Doodlecat due a revamp I'm sure he'll be the chap to watch for an entertaining write up next year.

      Then, of course, there's "Young Andy" who will clatter his ways across and produce a great read, if this year's diary is anything to go by!
      x

      Delete
  8. Fantastic read. Was great running into you at Queen St (you were the first challenger I spoke to you know... or rather, came running over to introduce yourself!) and again after Mar Lodge when I needed all the encouragement I could get. I have the bug now so hope to see you on the challenge again very soon. How on earth I'll cope next May without your blog to get my my vicarious fix remains to be seen. Hope you get fixed up soon.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I remember well my first Challenge (when we left Oban two days after everyone else had gone!) and not meeting anyone for days! It was a dismal start.

      I was determined that first timers should never feel "left out" and so we always make a point of saying hello to drag new Challengers into the feel of the thing (whether they like it or not!)

      I will be back as soon as I get fixed up!

      Delete
  9. Hi Alan, Enjoyed reading your entertaining diary. Sorry to learn of your problems, hope you get it sorted soon. I had another attempt this year, first for seven years, but retired at Blair Athol. I intend to try again though so hope our paths cross one day. The old haunt on Market Hill is as good as ever!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Tony - It's lovely to hear from you.
      :-)
      Alas, I moved from East Angular and so Don Pasqualez is no longer my Saturday lunchtime haunt.
      I'm sorry to hear that you had to drop out. I do hope you have another bash. It would be great to bump into you again.

      Delete
  10. All the best for your future Alan. Your walks and blog are a great inspiration and we want to enjoy more. It's always fantastic reading. One day we might even do a walk together.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Al

      My feelings exactly. I don't think I can't manage long hauls like the Challenge at the moment, But I should be able to cope with the occasional weekend, so we really should try to get out and have that walk.
      All the best to Sheila
      Alan

      Delete
  11. All the best Alan. You'll be back on the Challenge before you can say wind, rain and snow.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Gibson
      Wind, rain & snow, eh? Actually, I don't mind walking in any of those on their own; It's the combinations I don't like! And it IS nice to have a bit of sunshine to pack the tent away and to lounge about in at lunchtime and the evening to share a dram or three with your mates.
      :-)

      Delete
  12. Hi Alan,

    thanks again for a wonderful read. In spite of some differences in opinion I do consider you as my friend. I wish you well and hope to meet you on the Challenge or otherwise some day again.

    Cheers

    Rolf

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Rolf
      :-)
      You have always been one of the "Good Guys!" I am indeed proud to be included as one of your friends. Opinions over silly stuff like gear doesn't matter a jot in the overall scheme of things.
      Stay well.
      Still looking west, I wonder?
      :-)

      Delete
    2. Mate.
      It was a bloody pleasure.

      If you were related I'd give you a kidney.
      But you need a fine youthful, functional one.
      I have many of my parts crossed for your spare parts.

      On a plus note, there are many cyclists in Cambridge with no fucking idea or road sense.
      Hopefully, one of their parts may find itself on route to you.
      As long as it isn't one of my lot.

      It has been fun comparing your reality, with my massaged account of history.

      You know where I am next time you are up to the specialist man at Addenbrookes.
      Just give me a call sir.
      Any time.

      Anyway, the time off , you can harden up that dodgy bit under your foot.
      You know that blister point.

      Cheers mate!

      Delete
    3. Cheers, Sweetcheeks!
      I have now been handed over from Addenbrookes to the Royal Berks, so I won't need to make that journey any more.
      The blister has all but disappeared (thank the Lord!) and so I am looking to plan a weekend away somewhere nice for a bit of a stroll. There won't be too much "Up-ness" though!
      :-)

      Delete
    4. Oh well, I may have to come to Berks then.

      Might be some music arriving shortly!

      Delete
  13. Really enjoyed the journey Alan - I think you deserve a "Jolly Well Done" of your own. Since work precludes me having a crack at the Challenge myself, I'm relying on you to get yourself sorted and back out there providing a vicarious thrill. All the best with that.
    In the meantime, I hope somebody has had the good sense to provide you with a chauffeur driven, VIP 'walking' experience to tide you over.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yes... Another all-expenses paid trip to somewhere warm & sunny with lovely restaurants sounds just the ticket...

      I shall work on that!
      :-)

      Delete
  14. 1995 was also my first Challenge though you’ve completed loads more than me since. A lot of water has passed under a lot of bridges since then and this year evidently produced more than usual!
    My young cousin Kate in Adelaide was in desperate need of a kidney ten years ago and was given a spare by her sister. Since then young Kate has had five children and is a very happy woman!
    Good luck Alan and thanks for always being a fine read!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Do you know, I had always imagined you had started on this Challenge lark years before me. Perhaps it was that rugged / shagged look that you carry so well!
      :-)
      Cheers, Des. You're a fine chap!

      Delete
  15. Brilliant write up Alan, made me smile just when I needed to most. I shall be thinking of you and have everything crossed for you (makes the uphill bits tricky, but hey ho) all the very best and look after yourself. I expect to share a dram with you somewhere across Scotland sometime soon! xx

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. You are a sweet thing!
      Chin up, old girl! It's only 47 weeks before you'll be pulling on your boots to set off from the west coast again!

      I'll look forward to that dram, too.
      :-)

      Delete
    2. 331 Days to sign out in 2013 as I type this. :)

      Delete
    3. The application form comes out in TGO in September... That's the first goal...
      :-)

      Delete
  16. Good read, Alan. Best wishes in the quest for some "spare parts". Hope we can meet again soon. Perhaps the Cumbria Way later in the year. Surprisingly, not much "up" on that walk.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Robin
      Yes - I quite fancy that - it's a good stroll.
      :-)

      Delete
  17. Thanks for writing up an excellent series of post about your walk Alan. Good luck with your search for new gear. Perhaps you could ask for some new ultra light body parts :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you, Paul

      Yes - ultralight body parts... I could be in the market for that.
      :-)

      Delete
  18. A good read as usual Alan, I hope the spare parts turn up soon.
    Isn't it great news that the Spittal Wnd Farm in Caithness has been turned down.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Geoff

      The Spittal Wind Farm is another example of greedy developers pushing for what they think they can get away with. I walked through Halkirk on my LEJOG, when there was just the one wind farm. There are now getting on for a hundred turbines either built or being constructed around there.

      We should concentrate now on Ben Wyvis and Allt Duine to ensure they don't get built.

      Delete
  19. An amusing letter in the 20p Indie today commenting on the "country scene" for the opening ceremony of the running and jumping show - the writer commented that there are no wind turbines shown!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Bob
      Well, there's a surprise... There aren't any on the VisitScotland website either...

      *sigh*

      Delete
  20. A fine tale comes to an end. Superb. Get fixed and get back Alan.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Cheers Martin
      I'll do my level best on that, you can be sure!
      :-)

      Delete
  21. cousin Kate in Adelaide was in desperate need of a kidney ten years ago and was given a spare by her sister. Since then young Kate has had five children

    You see, Al, it's not just the treatment - you have to consider the side effects. I mean, do you really want five more children?

    The additional kidney will weigh about 150g btw (they don't remove the old ones - just stick the replacement in a spare corner and plumb it in. Seems a bit of a bodge to me).

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Eek!
      After watching a programme on telly last night about all the fat that surrounds your internal organs (all down to our increased sugar intake, you know) I'm not sure I have any spare corners to stuff a new kidney. My diet on the Challenge seemed to consist almost entirely of sugary snacks, and as I came back from Scotland half a stone lighter with no belly, the fat must now be hiding inside!
      I shall have to take half a teaspoon less sugar in my coffee each morning. No wait! I'm not supposed to have too much coffee either...
      Oh dear. Life...

      Delete
  22. Hi Alan

    A wonderful report of a fine achievement - I really enjoyed reading about your exploits.

    I do hope the spare part search resolves itself soon and that you are fighting fit and raring to go before you know it.

    ReplyDelete
  23. Another finely written tale draws to an end, we always enjoy reading about the latest expedition. Probably the best way for us to indulge the TGOC stories, actually doing it still doesn't appeal!.
    All the best for whatever internal reworkings you have to endure!.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Geoff
      Thanks - too kind.
      Go on... Give it a try... You'd love it.
      :-)

      Delete
  24. A great read as always Alan. May I like many others wish you all the best in the search for them bits. Although I've crossed Scotland coast to coast, I haven't attempted the Challange. Get yersel sorted lad, we need "oldies" like you to help the youngens!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Al
      Interestingly I think I would rank as one of the youngsters on the Challenge.
      Seriously!
      :-)
      And thanks for the good wishes - appreciated.

      Delete
  25. Hope all goes well for you and you don't have to wait long, Chrissie

    ReplyDelete
  26. I'm slow to catch up on all this writing Alan, I've really enjoyed reading all the reports you, and the rest of the TGO Community have laid down.

    I'll never forget my challenge. I loved it - had a great time and it was all because of the lovely people I met. Some I passed with a nod and a smile, some a chatted with, many I became friends with, and a few I will walk with again. I hope I can count yourself in the last two of those, pal.

    Be good.

    Carl.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I'm glad you had a good time, Carl. You certainly gave it everything, Sir! The more you put in, the more you get out.

      It's a fabulous event and very difficult to explain to non-combatants...

      If your family can give you a pass, it would be great to see you again.
      :-)

      Delete
  27. I just lost a considerable chunk of my evening reading these posts end to end! I say lost, but they were very enjoyable.
    I might try and get on to the Challenge one year. If only for the knees up in Braemar!
    Thanks :)
    Dave

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi David
      Go on - Have a crack at it. Everyone who tries loves it.
      You know you want to...
      :-)

      Delete

Hi.
Because of spammers, I moderate all comments, so don't worry if your comment seems to have disappeared; It has been sent to me for approval. As soon as I see it, I'll deal with it straight away.
Thank you!