TGO Challenge 2015 Dornie to Fraserburgh Part 2

Here is the second part and conclusion of our walk across Scotland in May 2015

TGO Challenge 2015 Day 14- Pennan Inn to Fraserburgh and Montrose

Day 14
Today might seem anti-climactic being just an easy 12 mile walk to the sea, but there is a lot going on today. But I don't want to get ahead of myself, as I told Vicky just enjoy the moment.
We had an excellent Scottish breakfast one more time at the Pennan Inn this morning and then packed up to walk the 12 miles to Fraserburgh.

Vicky puts the pack on for one more time this morning.
At the top of the hill the sign now shows us the way to Fraserburgh and away from 'Ferness"

We got started about 8:30 this morning after breakfast and the B road was quiet for the mile we had to walk it, but then we turned onto the minor roads and we had them all to ourselves.
 The minor road gave way to easy 2 track farm roads for awhile.

Even from the road or track today we could always see the North Sea

No matter what today we always had company along the sides of the road.

While I wished we could have been walking up on the cliff edges the views were still excellent 

 We passed Dundarg Castle and Fort. It looked to be a private residence now, but it was a spectacular setting right on the water with views to both sides and out to sea.

We passed by a Doocot "ornate structure"  in the field just south of Rosehearty

A surprise in a farmers barn yard a group of peacocks and he just couldn't help but show off for us.
Just past a farm called Milltown of Phingask a giant rape seed field.

 Finally coming into Fraserburgh and our finish destination in site the light house

We made sure that we got to the south east side of the light house so we finished on the east coast. 

To make doubly sure we walked down the hill to the wharf and docks of Fraserburgh so we could stand next to the sea for our finish photos

Happy to be finished, I asked Vicky if she wanted to "yo-yo" turn around and start back to the west coast again? Language deleted here for politeness

The final day to the sea and 205 miles overall from the west coast to the east.
So we finished in excellent time. it was around 12:30 pm. We needed to find the bus station to take us to Aberdeen. Fraserburgh being the northern most city on the east coast has no direct service to Montrose, so first it is bus to Aberdeen and then train to Montrose. 

 We found a city bus stop and a bus schedule, we asked the next city bus driver directions to the bus terminal- (it was just 2 blocks away). we walked to the bus terminal and in less than 20 minutes we were on a scheduled bus to Aberdeen. (above) Of course there was time for me to find a bakery and get some donuts and Vicky's celebration Mac and Cheese pie along with a Diet Coke!

We had been to Aberdeen before. Last year we transferred here when we were following our route to Braemar while Vicky rested her knee. We had to take the train from Aviemore to Aberdeen to catch a bus back to Braemar. This year we were leading a charmed life again. We arrived by bus into Aberdeen and in 15 minutes we were on the train to Montrose.(above)
Does Vicky look relaxed? (above). I think so!  It is impossible to tell you how impressed I am with her accomplishment. To put this into perspective she has been working out for general fitness regularly, but that is like saying she runs 3-5 miles per week and someone just asked her to run a full marathon with no prior competition experience. The longest she has been out backpacking is 3 days and now she walked 130 miles last year and 205 this year. 

It was another fantastic train ride down to Montrose

In no time we were walking the city center on the way to the Park Hotel. It was weird yet nice to know how easily we get around in this town, We felt the same way around Glasgow when we arrived two weeks ago.

The Park Hotel is actually the true finish point. You are not completely done until you are checked into Challenge Control. This year we didn't arrive as someone that stuck it out and persevered but as Challengers that had successfully completed the walk. Even though I was perfectly happy with the walk and vacation we had last year, I felt good about legitimately signing out and I am sure Vicky did as well- Hopefully we will get to hear from Vicky this year, if she puts into words her feelings about the challenge- I will be sure to post that! 
Challenge Control and the Challenge is a close knit group. It is impossible to know everyone, but it is amazing how many people do know each other and come back year and year for the event. 
 (Above) Gayle who helped me so much this year was doing the check out along with Sue and of course Roger Smith (the real father of the event)
Vicky (above) takes advantage of the tea and cakes offered at Challenge Control

After resting and taking in the atmosphere we walked just across the street to the Link Hotel. This has become our usual hotel ( the Park is always sold out) but I think we like the Link better

This year we got one of the brand new rooms in the new wing. A huge suite to relax in. We are going to be here for two and half days as we don't leave to start home until Saturday afternoon 

 Once we had cleaned up and rested it was time for the TGO dinner party. There is a dinner on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday nights but the Thursday night dinner is always the biggest and rowdiest and it so entertaining. Just before dinner everyone is in the Park Hotel Bar and if you notice all have their TGO T-Shirts on, So did Vicky and I as like most this is the only clean cloths you have!
(Above)- Alan Sloman in his T-shirt and (Below) John- on left- and Norma- pink vest- Keohane.
Both Alan and John were making their 20th crossings this year and would get special awards tonight during the banquet.
Below in red jacket- Bob Cartwright from and the Outdoors Station fame. Bob's podcast's of the challenge have helped me learn about the challenge and route ideas. Later in the evening Vicky and I would get a chance to chat with Bob and his wife Rose.

 The meal and the evening where extremely fun with many speeches and awards. 

Some of the highlights include the gentleman that owns Lochallater Lodge who always comes in full Scottish formal dress. The food was also very good. We missed another chance to try the Haggis again.

The speech by Humphrey Weightman (13 crossings) is always a highlight for me as he speaks many languages has great stories and is a great MC as he introduces all the challenge classes by year and the Challengers by country. 

 There is so many people to thank for helping make something like this possible. Planning this trip from the USA, 4300 miles away is a bit of a challenge in itself. While we loved the scenery and everything we experienced (we would expatriate to Scotland in a second) it is the people that make this event so much fun. After all with the Scottish rites of way you could walk across Scotland anytime you wished following any of these routes, but I have to agree that it is the unique nature of the people and the event that makes this so much fun. So people to thank:
This year since my route was so much different than the normal route just through the highlands, I could not have done it without the assistance of Gayle Faulkner and Louise Evans. Louise actually living in Forress, both provided lots of information and whether they realize it or not, lots of help in planning. Louise for putting up with us and walking with us on day 2 and 3. And I know both are big role models for Vicky. With help in navigation I do also have to thank Route Buddy Software, Neil and Jannion. The GPS really helped this year and the software worked great. To all our friends from last year that we found on the trip or talked to before our afterward - Peter Molenaar, Jayme Morgan, John and Norma Koehane, Emma Warbrick, Phil Lambert, Victor and Nicola Slawski, who we missed thanking last year, but I won't miss this year. Mick Blackburn, Wilhelm Fox, Andy Walker, Andy Howell, Toby and Vicky Grace, Mike Gillespie, Jeremy Burrows and Greg Lindstrom
A special thanks to Jim Anderson and his friend Anne. I can not remember when I have had a better time with another couple than we spent with Jim and Anne in Dornie before the Challenge began and then with Jim at the Thursday night dinner. Thank you.
And finally a huge thank you to Alan Sloman, who without his encouragement and good cheer I don't think Vicky would have considered trying again!

Vicky and Alan

For anyone I missed and I am sure I did and will be embarrassed when I remember- thank you.
I will make a travel post of getting there and getting home soon and I hope to have a video ( I shot 30 minutes of video on the trip) and have it done before long and just maybe I will have a post of Vicky's thoughts on the challenge

TGO Challenge 2015 Day 13- Westerbonnyton Farm Caravan Park to Pennan Inn

Day 13
The heavy winds and storm of last night had past by the morning. We had slept in today as we knew it would be a short day to Pennan. We did manage to get up and packed up and out the door by 8 am. On the way out I took the key to the reception building (the owner's home) and he answered the door. They never did come by the rec room last night to collect any money and he didn't ask for any this morning, however I had put 20 pounds in a zip lock bag with the key that I handed him, so I am sure he will find it eventually. It was the least I could do for the hospitality they had afforded us last night in getting out of the wind and storm.

Because we had added extra miles on to each of the last few days, we only had 7.5 miles to get to Pennan. It was however all on the B road 9031 we had been on for the last mile yesterday. 

You can see the cliff edge from the road, but there is no way to get out to it. The fence line for the farm fields is right up at the edge and any margin on the other side is taken up by gorse (the beautiful yellow flowered bushes with the very long sharp thorns.  The entire area is owned by a conglomerate of farms under the Melrose name. For almost 4 miles all the farms belonged to them. 

The B road was the official coastal trail path here. If someday there could be access along the cliff edge it would make for a spectacular walk.

The farms are for cattle and sheep. We must have been a novelty as the cattle would run to us when they saw us on the road and follow us for several yards. They must associate people on foot with being feed.
 There were also several horse stables along the road (It has been cold enough that the horses had their blankets on)

We caught up with John, Susan and Jane, just after Gardenstown where they had stayed last night.  I knew they could only have been about 4 miles ahead of us and with us doing extra miles I thought we might see them again before the end. We thought about them a lot last night and Vicky and I hoped they were somewhere out of the weather as well. They had stayed in a B&B last night and were safe. We walked with them until we had to turn off for Pennan and they were heading on to Rosehearty

 We reached the turn off for Pennan.

There is a steep decent from the B road to Pennan on the sea.

 We arrived in Pennan (or should I say Ferness)

The Pennan Inn. 
We arrived in town at 10:30 am and found that the Pennan Inn didn't open until 4 pm. I tried knocking loudly on the door to tell them "We had been traveling all night and we would like to check in and maybe eat something. We have an injured rabbit also"

"Ferness" Harbor, not much to do when the tide is out.

The tide is out.
The famous red phone box

So we spent some time walking around town- Up and down the street of 20 homes!

No cell phone service or Internet so I used the phone box to call Challenge Control in Montrose for the last of our 4 check in calls ( I thought maybe I should call Knox Oil and Gas) 
 While we waited past noon the tide started to come in

It blasted water against the sea wall and made bigger and bigger spray. There were actually quite a few tourists in town, walking and taking pictures. Both Vicky and I thought that the inn would have done a very good lunch time business had it been open. 

Vicky did manage to get us checked in early to our room 
 The Pennan Inn has just re-opened with these new owners (Husband - chef and Wife- bar and front of house) and they have spared no expense in making the rooms up to date and comfortable. The bathrooms were especially nice, again with lots of very hot water.

 Vicky checking her feet and getting ready to relax and spread her gear out (above) and the explosion of gear after (below)
The view out our little portal window toward the sea.

We had a good shower and a clean up and then it was time for the bar to open so we headed down to check out the rest of the Inn.

The bar area was cozy and nice with a fireplace and they had lots of memorabilia of the movie Local Hero. I would have purchased a baseball cap, but they were sold out. 

The dining room was just as lovely for our dinner.  I checked to make sure that there was no Casserole De La Pan on the menu ("Is this my rabbit?... Yes I should have told you we don't allow animals in the bedroom... Trudy"

Vicky had the fish tonight

I had a recommended chicken curry stroganoff  and it was delicious.

 We both split an order of onion rings and of course we had a dessert.
I had a berry cheesecake and Vicky had an strawberry ice cream sundae

 We had anticipated coming here since we first discussed coming back to Scotland to do the TGO again and I think it lived up to all our expectations. It was the perfect second to last day.
After chatting with the owners they almost bought the Boyne Hotel in Portsoy as well and they are planning to sell the Pennan Inn now that it is fixed up and are going to move back to the Orient where they also have a home and a restaurant.
I asked Vicky after dinner, just like the Americans in the movie "Should we buy Ferness Bay?"
"I will give you a dollar for every grain of sand I can hold in my hand" 

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