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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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