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.
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.
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 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.
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.
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.
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!
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