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


  1. Craig and Vicky, you are both very welcome! I was only too delighted to be able to help you explore my playground, (sorry about the Brodie campsite, so pleased the Old Mill didn't let me down!) I love this coast line and it's surrounds and I'm chuffed you enjoyed it too. Walking with you days two and three was an absolute pleasure, really enjoyed being able to walk with someone at the same pace Vicki, thank you!
    I assume you'll be coming back? Hope to see you then.

    1. Thanks Louise- we wish we could move to Forress

  2. The smile on Vicky's face tells the whole story of her trip! It is plain to see that making it all the way this time was a really important thing for her to do. You are both to be congratulated on going the second time around. You might not do it again, but you sure can go back for a visit and find friends to see that you met along the way. This is an experience that you both will treasure as you grow older, wiser, and less likely to be able to walk long distances.LOL Love to you both

  3. I wholeheartedly agree with your Mum, Craig. Vicky's smile says it all!
    Last year, to overcome the problems she faced, and rejoin the Challenge was truly heroic; I've known Challengers head home with far less severe ailments!

    But, to come back and have another bash (and with quite a demanding day right near the start as well) and conquer those demons is bloody wonderful!

    I love the way you two work as a team together - a mighty unit - and hope very much that you both return for many more trips across one of the fineat backpacking countries in the world.

    Congratulations to you both!
    x (for Vicky!)

    1. I had hoped you would return! But I completely understand your stand and I hope to come back several times in the future. Perhaps we will plan a long weekend in the English countryside as a reunion


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