However I was still not going to just let her strap on a pack and start walking as if nothing had happened. She had on her knee brace and I took everything out of her pack, she protested but I did it anyway! Giving me about 33 pounds (still a very light load compared to some of the packs I saw on the challenge....) and her about 5 pound total with a 1/2 liter of water.
Our goal today was ambitious and Vicky knew it. 19 miles from Braemar to Ballater. the walk was not strenuous but having now been off her knee for 5.5 days, I warned her it might be like starting over in terms of stamina.
Off we go
The day before, as I was wondering around town, I had scouted out the start of our hike today (below)
The first hour of our day was really the only climbing and it was a minor hill around the "Lion's Face"
the day was overcast with a nice temperature for walking and the low light made all the green colors come alive again.
At the top of the hill was a great vantage point for viewing the Invercauld House (castle!) and their estate grounds
In the background of this and the pictures above you can see Lochnagar Mountains ( Munros)
After the Invercauld Bridge we entered the Ballochbuie Forest. This area that was in the process of being logged, but also had a large hunting lodge and a field full of deer. It was very lovely forest and nice path to walk on for several miles
We also passed through the Woods of Garmaddie
I can't help it but every time I see these guys I think of my 22 year old son Taylor when he needs a hair cut!
After our lovely walk today through the forests and fields we knew we were getting close to Balmoral Castle when we came across this open gate and sign.
We continued on and soon found ourselves at Her Majesties front door. In fact we walked in from the western side and didn't see another soul on the grounds. It was a Monday, but we felt like we had the entire grounds to ourselves and we were just outside our own weekend house.... nice.
The Gardens and the grounds are very lovely and well maintained... obviously
We only started to see a few people when we actually got close to the restaurant and the gift shop area.
We enjoyed our lunch break with the Queen and we stayed and rested for about 40 minutes and then headed for Easter Balmoral. I am not sure what purpose Easter Balmoral served other than maybe being the residences of those that served the castle, but now it is a golf course and several really fabulous cottages all of which we admired greatly.
These all had cars parked around them as if regular people lived in them and Vicky and I both hoped that was the case as we could imagine living in them also.
We continued up a minor road after Easter Balmoral to the royal distillery. We didn't go in as neither of us would know good whiskey if it bit us, but it was a quiet road that cut off some of the traffic we would have encountered on the "B" road we had been on.
We followed this minor road around and went by fields of new lambs (above)
and fabulous cottages along the way
In the middle of nowhere a royal mail box (above) and and a phone box (below).
Actually in a little village of Littlemill
The River Dee
After the bridge it was another short walk on the A93 and then onto a river path at followed the River Dee and beside the Ballater Gold Course. Our second golf course of the day. The Gorse was fully in bloom with the yellow flowers.
Wildflowers were blooming and several fisherman were casting in the river.
More Gorse edited (this is not Gorse but Broom- Thanks Alan S.) lined the path as we entered the Ballater Caravan Park.
Vicky was very tired and after a little doctoring of her feet we decided that we would eat at the picnic table. I went into town and found a Co-Op and bought all sorts of fresh foods for dinner.
It was a long day and considering the monster day Vicky put in to get back on track a great day for us on the Challenge.
A lovely evening in Ballater
18.7 miles in 9 1/2 hours
Slugs, Hairy Cooz, Deer, Sheep, Lambs, Tourists
Elevation Profile Day 11