Day 11: Ballater to Potarch
Distance: 29km (680m), total of 249km
Planned route: map
Last night we had a lively dinner with Marion, Graham and Mary in the local Italian restaurant. The food was fantastic and the company superb. We finally rolled into bed at 10:30pm for a record breaking late night. Over night the predicted winds didn’t come and it was blissfully quiet until 5am when all hell let loose with full on winds and rain. We finally left camp at 8:30 and meandered through town to pickup the Deeside way hiking/biking path. We soon banged out 11km to reach our coffee and cake stop (recommended by Graham) at the hamlet of Dinnet. There’s nothing quite like a warn baked scone and clotted cream – it was lovely. We were soon joined by cowboy Mike, Graham, Marion, Stuart? and six other challengers. I was up for another scone but the boss insisted we press on.
Today’s weather was looking bad with wicked gale force winds predicted for later in the day. Most challengers had started to muse over the idea of taking the Deeside way into Aberdeen. With approximately 50 km to go it would be an easy (but very boring walk). Our planned route took us south over some exposed hills so we elected to continue on the Deeside way until we reached Aboyne were we’d have lunch and decide on plan A or B.
We walked to Aboyne chatting to Stuart and the miles flew by. Stuart continued south on his planned route and Lynn and I headed into Aboyne with Mike to find a lunch spot. We found a great little ‘tea room’ (translation for our American readers == cafe) and had a nice lunch.
After pondering the maps we decided the Deeside way to Aberdeen would be too boring so we elected to link up with our planned route to the Fetteresso Forrest.
While we were sitting in the cafe the scene outside was incredible with all kinds of things flying by in the gales. We headed out and walked through the buffeting winds crossing the river south to pickup a minor road. The skies were a mixture of blue, clouds and rainbows. For the trip so far our working theory was that you can have any two of rain, wind or sun. This was soon disproven with all three making a simultaneous appearance throughout the afternoon.
After about an hour on the trail we decided to head for a pub/inn marked on the map in the hope they would have a room available. We pushed on and arrived at the Potarch Hotel. I’d tried calling them earlier in the day to check on a room and had no luck. Once we entered the hotel we found candles and learned they had a powercut, no doubt caused by a
flying tree. This is where the day’s genius shone through as the hotel had real ale – no power needed! We are currently supping our second pint of something (don’t know what but it’s doing the trick) while seated in a pair of lovely leather armchairs. Jackpot!
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