TGO Challenge 2014 Day 14 - Fetteresso Forest to Stonehaven- The Finish

Waking up early in the forest was a treat. It was a great night tucked in the pines. It appeared like some rain this morning but the temperatures were still very pleasant. I don't think Vicky actually believed me when I said we were only 8 miles from the North Sea as we packed up this morning

 We were ready for rain and ready to get to the coast. 
The walk through the Fetteresso was flat and easy and we enjoyed looking at the old walls that were being used to mark fields for the sheep and cattle.

Vicky looked the part of a hiker the entire 2 weeks- 

The flowers and the spring time color has been brilliant for 2 weeks
Leaving the boundary of the Fetteresso Forest for the last time.
The remainder of our walk today was along minor roads passing farms and pastures on our way to Stonehaven

Faces only a mother could love!

 Along the way we were caught up by Toby and Vicky (the elder) and they were delightful company. They had to move on faster than us as they were going to finish at Dunnottar Castle a few miles south of Stonehaven.

Vicky Grace, Vicky Gulley, Toby Grace (above left to right)
 The weather continued to look threatening the closer we got to the coast, but it held off and we made it to Stonehaven before any rain. This continued the weather success I promised at the beginning of the Challenge. It did not rain on us during the day in 2 weeks!

 Crossing over the A90 into Stonehaven proper

Now just a few more blocks or so down to the North Sea, but wait! We had to stop and get a sausage roll for me and a Mac and Cheese roll for Vicky. The bakery we passed smelled so good!

 We carried our brunch down to the sea and ate while looking out at the waves over the sea wall.

 Then it was time to go to the beach. The Stonehaven beach is rocky so we didn't take our shoes off nor did I strip down and plunge in as I had originally planned. It was actually very cold and we had on most our cloths here at the end.

 But we did step into the North Sea completing our journey across Scotland Starting by a boat ride in the Atlantic and finishing at the North Sea in Stonehaven.

 On the way to the train station in Stonehaven we stopped to pick up a bottle of Ardbeg Scotch for John Manning and we literally stopped to smell the flowers.

Stonehaven Railway Station.

The Train took us 40 minutes just down the coast to Montrose the location of the TGO Control Headquarters and were we needed to check in to complete our Challenge.

The Town of Montrose complete with red phone box

 The Park Hotel has been where the Challenge Control has been headquartered during the Challenge since the beginning in 1980. For 2 weeks the organizers stay here and track the progress of Challengers across Scotland and provide logistic and emergency services to all Challengers. 

This is only a fraction of the packs that are stacked up outside and inside the Park Hotel. The majority of Challengers finish on Thursday and by mid afternoon their were perhaps 100 packs in the hotel lobby

 Upstairs to Challenge Control to sign in and receive your T-shirt and have a cup of tea and relax.
Freddy Campbell, who had been so kind to us since the beginning

Emma Warbrick and Vicky Sore
The Ladies of the TGO Challenge in addition to a very surprised Chris Townsend that turned just as I was taking this picture. (Scottish Deer caught in headlights!)

We went and checked into our hotel. We booked our room at the sister hotel The Links, right next door.
We had a fabulous room at the top of the Grand Staircase.

 Then it was back to the Park Hotel Bar for more drinking and fun before the TGO Dinner Event.
I lost no weight on this trip. I ate and drank my way across Scotland.
Humphrey Weightman (left) and Alan Sloman (right) share stories
 The Thursday night TGO party. Many speeches describing the people and event. It was packed with Challengers and a great time was had by all.
Master of Ceremonies and Coordinator John Manning giving praise to the original coordinator Roger Smith (back to us) and John making a shocking announcement that he would be stepping down as coordinator after this year.
We are too very happy and fortunate Challengers. 

The Trip would not have been possible or as enjoyable without the help of the following people. I know I will miss a few and for that I apologize:
In the beginning whether they knew it our not:
Chris Townsend, Tony Hobbs, and Bob Cartwright.-for blogs, podcasts and videos.
Before and During the Challenge:
Andy Howell, our Vetter Colin Crawford, John and Mrs. Manning, Alan McDonald, Mike Gillespie, Vicky and Toby Grace, Emma Warbrick, Ian Sinclair, Peter Molenaar, Fred Campbell, Ken and Nina Stimson, Peter Kenyon, Barbara Sanders, Norma and John Keohane, Andrew Walker, Phil Lambert, Mike Armstrong, Mick Blackburn, Gayle Faulkner, Matt Favero, Joe Valesko, Paul (Owner of Abbey B&B in Ft Augustus)  and a very big and special thank you to: Vicky Sore, Toby Mullins and Alan Sloman.

The one person who needs to get all the credit for making this trip possible, because I would not have done it without her; Vicky Gulley. Vicky you could not have done this trip a year ago and I am so proud of you for making the effort to be able to do the Challenge and the great success I got to share with you.  looking forward now to many more adventures in the backcountry with you- Love you!

Day 14
8 miles walked
Total 127 miles walked out of 187 planned.

Elevation profile for Day 14 


  1. Your walk encapsulates everything that the Challenge is famous for:
    Good planning (difficult from the USA - especially as the ground conditions are not too likely to be encountered over there), good preparation (especially so for Vicky) and sheer grit, determination and pluck on the walk. You were helped on your way (as I knew you would be) by countless Challengers, all encouraging you to succeed and giving emotional support.
    Scotland's magnificent Access Laws means you can stop and camp virtually at will, which made you walk that little bit easier.
    Okay, the weather was benign this yea, but the ground conditions underfoot for the few few days in the west were pretty dreadful, after weeks of heavy rain.
    HUGE congratulations to you both for a magnificent job - well walked.
    I hope we see you both again on the Challenge. You're the right stuff.
    All the very best to you both

    1. and I believe you still owe me a pint for the excellent weather that I promised to bring- :-)

    2. I'll sort that out next May, Sir, In the Park Hotel.

  2. Excellent trip, going to go and read the rest now.
    You know you will be back, because despite the pain, it is just too wonderful to miss.
    So, 2015?

    1. 2015 it is! Thanks Andrew

  3. This was such a great narrative that it made us believe we were with you all the way. GREAT JOB (and Vicky sure has the "right stuff") Love to you both

    1. We learned a lot even with my experience there was lots of new experiences. The best part was we did it together.

  4. Alan MacDonaldJune 08, 2014

    Craig & Vicky it was great to meet you both ,I enjoyed reading your TGO challenge account hope you will do it again .

    1. Thanks to you! and thanks for starting us off right with catching the toast on fire!

    2. It was actually Patrick Deane that set the toast on fire at the West Highland Hotel in Mallaig- very funny indeed!

    3. That is right, sorry for the confusion with all the new friends and faces, but it was very funny!


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