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Friday, 28 June 2013

TGO Challenge 2013: Day 13: “Bugger Brechin!”

By the time you get to Tarfside you’ve bumped into and rubbed along with any number of great new friends. You’re never short of a topic of conversation when on the Challenge. There’s where you started, your subsequent route, “where were you when we had the blizzard?” and “how are your blisters?” just for starters.

Then there’s the thorny question: Do you actually follow your planned route to the coast, or do you just follow the trade route down the North Esk?

Phil had planned our route to nip through the Clash of the Wirren and on to the White & Brown Forts and Brechin. Andy and me were fine with this, as neither of us had seen Brechin. Then, at the Masons’ the doubts began to creep in:

“Brechin? Are you sure?” and “What? Brechin Campsite? Is your gear insured then?” and “There’s no where to eat in Brechin,” “What a hole – it’s really run down” and lastly “I wouldn’t leave your tent and stuff at that campsite – It’ll all be gone by the time you get back from the pub”

It seemed no-one had a good word to say about Brechin. We eventually came to the same conclusion. As George V famously (almost) said:

“Bugger Brechin!”

Plan B was swiftly cobbled together: The Blue Door Walk.

TGO2013 DAY 13

DAY 13: RED PECKED ROUTE - CLICK TO ENLARGE

Phil & I must have woken about the same time and after a coffee and hot chocolate we discussed breakfast. Recently St Drostan’s has had a nasty habit of running out of beer & bacon at the most importune times – when we arrived in the afternoon for beers or no bacon for breakfast.

This year, we decided, we were not going to go without our pork products. So we nipped off early, before eight o’clock, to see if there was any bacon left. It was just as well we did, as as we arrived it was announced that the last bacon rolls were up for grabs. I think we had the very last bacon rolls. Alas, no seconds, so we had to make do with an egg roll. But the tea kept on coming – a vital rehydration regime. Then it was a wash & shave and clean teeth and back to the playing field to pack up.

By the time we had packed, Andy was still on his way to St Drostan’s (only to be bitterly disappointed) and Phil decided that he was off back to St D’s to have contact with porcelain. I mooched off slowly and we agreed that we would meet somewhere along the river bank before the bridge for the Blue Door Walk.

I popped into the Tarfside Church, to find the interior almost a replica of that of the church in Braemar. Very simple and peaceful.

Then I was off down the road to visit the sand martins’ burrows. I enjoy this most years but this year there were considerably less birds – it must have been down to the poor weather earlier in the month.

It was now beginning to warm up so I had a little snooze at a conveniently positioned fishing marker that make a good back rest. After a little while, the usual suspects turned up and we all sat watching the river bundle busily past.

PHIL'S PIC: CROYDON, ME, ANDY & GERRY, NORTH ESK

PHIL'S PIC: CROYDON, ME, ANDY & GERRY, NORTH ESK

Then we were off once more, with quite large shower clouds brewing behind us, which before too long caught up with us as a gentle reminder that Scotland hadn’t finished with us quite yet.

We took the new bridge over the river and on the track the other side came across this little chap:

ANDY'S PIC: "SNAKE, SNAKE!" Hmmm SLOW WORM

ANDY'S PIC: "SNAKE, SNAKE!" Hmmm SLOW WORM – CLICK TO ENLARGE

And then we were on the Blue Door Walk. Carved out of solid rock by French prisoners of war in Napoleonic times, this is a little gem. I know, gentle reader, that you have read this on here a few times before, but I am constantly amazed that Challengers would prefer to walk down the south shore of the North Esk when there is this fabulous walk to follow.

ANDY, PHIL & GERRY, BLUE DOOR WALK

ANDY, PHIL & GERRY, BLUE DOOR WALK – CLICK TO ENLARGE

 

PHIL'S PIC: ME, BLUE DOOR WALK

PHIL'S PIC: ME, BLUE DOOR WALK – CLICK TO ENLARGE

We had lunch at one of the larger semi-circular benches set into the rock wall, but Phil decided he was on a mission to have lunch at the cafe at Edzell and so carried on.

ROCKS OF SOLITUDE

ROCKS OF SOLITUDE, BLUE DOOR WALK – CLICK TO ENLARGE

We trundled along, enjoying the splendours of the velvety soft tree canopy, the crashing waters in the gorge below and the cool mosses along the path sides. This place fills your senses.

BLUE DOOR WALK

BLUE DOOR WALK – CLICK TO ENLARGE

Every so often there are comfortable well built benches to tempt you to linger. I could happily spend a day here, sitting and listening.

BLUE DOOR WALK

BLUE DOOR WALK – CLICK TO ENLARGE

Eventually we cut away from the river, just before the suspension bridge, to nip up to Edzell and the Tuck Inn. Phil was already halfway through an excellent beef and ale pie with chips and vegetables,so after pinching more chips than he realised, I was tucking into the same. Phil then followed this with the biggest most piggiest knickerbocker glory I had ever seen in my life and then still had room to demolish a large pot of tea. The lad must have worms.

After a visit to the shop to pick up cans of beer, a Swiss roll and a fruit cake (a well balanced meal) I was off down the road to North Water Bridge. It’s a seventeen mile or so day, and the worst of it is this last stretch. It’s tarmac bashing in a dead straight line for miles and miles.

But soon, the tents are up, and you can have a gentle snooze before joining the benched throngs of hardened Challengers having the traditional last party before Montrose.

PHIL'S PIC, VICKY, TOBY & JAMES, NORTH WATER BRIDGE

PHIL'S PIC: VICKY, TOBY & JAMES, NORTH WATER BRIDGE

Before too long I had reached my cold threshold once again (a kidney thing) and retired, so I missed Andy’s last  test of sobriety.  “If I can balance this full can of Guinness on my head for five whole minutes I must be sober!”

I’ll let you be the judge of that.

PHIL'S PIC: ANDY NORTH WATER BRIDGE

PHIL'S PIC: ANDY NORTH WATER BRIDGE

A lovely day, with two lovely blokes.

16 comments:

  1. You have caught up sir.
    So, it's a race to the coast now.

    It was a lovely day that.

    But I cannot seem to remember anything after we sat down at that table.
    Maybe it's best if I don't :-)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. That would be because a passing eagle dropped a full can of Guinness right on your bonce (my photo captures the moment) rendering you stunned and concussed as the subsequent photos confirm.

      Lesser men would have succumbed to such an injury, but you made it through.

      The right stuff will always prevail.

      Delete
    2. Gotta say this - and it's a bit spooky - but the security words for my response to Andy were "was debonair" :-D

      Delete
    3. Day 14 will be up on Sunday. Patience, dear thing. Photos to edit first. Then a few beers to mull it over.

      I can eat and drink anything I like now! (Apart from grapefruit juice) so I might just turn into a big fat bastard!

      The bastard thing is easy - I've got that licked.

      Delete
    4. Spot on "was debonaire" - I refer you back to the picture of Andy on the first day
      HERE

      and then look at the last picture today...
      'Nuff said.
      :-)

      Delete
    5. It's true.
      I just looked.
      The decline sir, The decline ......
      It was all downhill from Lochnagar.....

      Delete
  2. I think you may have been paraphrasing Edward VII rather than Prince Albert. But then what does this old pedant know? After all I have visited neither Brechin nor Bognor. Nor am I likely too. So bugger the both of em I say.

    ReplyDelete
  3. In fact come to think of it, it was George V not Edward VII.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Ah. But you're sure it wasn't Lord Elpus?
      :-)
      I stand corrected! Thank you Sir.
      Put this down to a dodgy memory and not checking up on Wikipedia - so laziness as well.
      :-)

      Delete
    2. Peeps can find more on the source, HERE

      A good tale
      :-)

      Delete
  4. Good story and pics as always, Alan. That looks rather a fine walk, I have to say. Any idea why that path was made by these Frenchies? I suppose if you have a bunch of prisoners to hand, it doesn't need much of an excuse to put them to work on some fine venture. No skin off your nose, so to speak.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It makes you wonder if it was slave labour, like the Burma Railway, or a labour of love by the Prisoners of War. It's said that they also planted all the beech trees along the route all the way to Edzell as well.
      Whatever the reasons they have left a magnificent legacy.

      Delete
  5. I've enjoyed catching up, Alan, from a sunny wifi spot in Lescun. Here, the vultures gather in menacing circles, red kites fly nervously below, dogs and cats crouch under protective tables, and the sheep welcome the security of the milking shed.
    We haven't seen a single trap, or wind farm for that matter!

    ReplyDelete
  6. Ha, the sentence 'the benched throngs of hardened Challengers' made me chuckle when I saw the photo below it.

    Where is the bloody blue door by the way?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. To get to North Water Bridge, you will have well and truly hardened.
      :-)

      The Blues Door is on the north eastern end of Gannochy Bridge, near Edzell. (See map above)

      Delete

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