TGOC2017 – Shiel Bridge To Aberdeen, Part Five

Day Thirteen – 21.1 miles

Mark and I both have the same plan for the finish, to take the Deeside Way from Ballater to Aberdeen. He plans to do it over three days though, and I want to take two days.

Looking at my map the route is all marked, apart from the section between Aboyne and Kincardine O’Neil. Unless there’s some waymarking on this stretch, I’m assuming that you have to go down the road here.

I’m ready quite early and end up setting off before Mark.

It’s very quiet.

It’s very pleasant. The occasional commuter cycles by.

For most of this morning, I’m walking through a distinctly rural area.

Sadly, I see some remnants still not sorted, from the floods a couple of years ago.


I’m starting to understand why I’ve heard that the Deeside Way makes a very pleasant ending to the Challenge.

It runs parallel to the A93 for a while, but I don’t really notice it, there’s too much greenery around. I come off the track briefly for a mid morning break at Dinnet. I notice our van parked up – Geoff’s obviously gone for a walk from here with the dogs!

I don’t go in, but buy an ice cream from a nearby cafe.

Continuing on my way, I have Second Lunch next to a gliding club, then eventually reach Aboyne.


As I suspected, when I pop out onto the road in the town, all waymarking for the route just stops. I’ve nothing marked here on my map either, so I try and find what looks like a bit of a route through on the south side of the A93. This doesn’t work – a housing estate has been built there now. So, in the absence of anything more obvious, I assume you’re expected to go down the road.

This doesn’t work either. It’s far too busy and after being nearly squished several times, I retrace my steps and plan a route along some minor roads and tracks to the north of the A93 – a bit of a long way round, but hopefully safer.

I can hardly believe it then, when almost as soon as I’ve turned off onto one of the ‘yellow’ roads, I suddenly pick up waymarks again, on what looks like a brand new section of trail! Back onto a pleasant track, through some woods and I’m soon safely on the outskirts of Kincardine O’Neil.

A sudden heavy downpour has me reaching for my waterproofs and as I pass the local church, I spy Mark sitting in the porch, having a break. I go in and join him. We inevitably have a bit of a discussion about the difficulty of finding the route out of Aboyne. He also had a bit of difficulty, but looking at his map, he obviously has a newer version than me, as part of this section is marked on his.

I’m aware that Rich Flint is also on the trail, a few miles behind us – Geoff having already sent me a text earlier to say that Rich was drinking tea and eating cake with him in the van. I send Rich a message then, to warn him about the route problems here, just in case he has an older edition of the map like me.

And it transpires that John Boy is around, too! I get a message from him saying he’s currently having scones and tea a few miles in front of us, at Potarch. It’s almost busy!

Mark and I carry on together now. We discover that we’re both aiming for the same camping spot tonight, so with the wonders of modern technologyΒ I screen grab our intended camping spot from Viewranger and message it to Rich, in case he wants to join us there later.

The last few miles pass quickly with Mark to chat to. Geoff is in the car park when we get there. Mark pitches his tent outside and joins us for a meal. An hour or so later, Rich turns up. He pitches too, then Geoff cooks him some dinner. We have a Challenge Party.


Day Fourteen – 20 miles

Rich is planning on taking the Deeside Way all the way to Aberdeen today, Mark is going as far as Peterculter and I want to get all the way to the coast as well. To make it easier for Geoff – who’s meeting me at the beach – I decide to leave the Way at Crathes and pick some quiet roads up across to Newtonhill, instead.

I’ve got about 20 miles to do again, so I set off early-ish. It’s obviously going to be a hot one, but the first few miles are in shade.


I leave the Way behind properly at Crathes and start walking down the B9077, and the heat is becoming quite intense. The road is also unbelievably busy, both cars and wagons skimming past me. I’m not happy. In fact, I’m pretty scared.

A couple more miles and I turn off onto the smaller roads. These are much quieter and I breathe a sigh of relief.

I’ve not gone too far when to my amazement, Geoff appears, driving towards me. He stops. He’s been driving on my route down to the coast to wait for me, and has been totally thwarted by a new road/motorway that is being built. The roads I’m planning on walking down are closed.

Suddenly, I feel totally weary. Suddenly, I don’t care if I junk the whole thing. I ring control and speak to Judith. She chivies me on, she won’t let me junk it. I can get taken back to where I left the Deeside Way at Crathes, and start again for the afternoon.

So, that’s what I do. And as I start again where I left off on the Way a few hours back, and see Mark coming towards me, I begin to think this is meant to be. And as we round a corner a couple of minutes later and come across Rich again, I’m sure it’s meant to be.

But I’ve lost miles and I’ve lost time, so there’s no way I’ll make the coast now today. I decide to stop at Peterculter for the night, like Mark is doing.

The three of us carry on together, enjoying each other’s company. It’s early evening by the time we reach Peterculter and I’m not feeling brilliant. It’s been hot, I’m not sure I’ve eaten enough and I’m tired.

Day Fifteen – 8.7 miles

A good night’s sleep and I feel determined again. I set off about 8:30 – I’ve not many miles to go, but Geoff has to then drive me to Montrose to make sure I sign out before 5pm.

Shortly after setting off, the Deeside Way has to cross this new bypass. A Pelican Crossing is in operation here…

An hour or so down the way, I sit down for a break and can hardly believe my eyes when I once more see Mark coming down the trail towards me. We team up again.

We’re into the centre of Aberdeen, in Duthie Park, before we know it. The trail is surrounded by greenery all the way in, so we hardly notice being in the city.

A cafe stop is had and then we set off for the headland. Mark is aiming for Girdle Ness Lighthouse, I’m aiming for a different car park, further round.

It’s another hot day. Crossing the River Dee, I get a phone call from Geoff.

‘You won’t believe this, but the car park where we’ve arranged to meet is a construction site and the beach is all fenced off.’

You couldn’t make it up.

We arrange to meet at another car park on the other side of the headland…

And finally, I’m there. I quite like the bustling port backdrop to the photos. My dad was in the Merchant Navy, my Grandad ran away to sea when he was young and I’m related to Grace Darling. I’ve always felt a kind of affinity to ships and the sea.

Euphoria hasn’t quite set in yet, but I do feel a bit pleased with myself.

We can’t waste time though. A quick lunch, Geoff drives me to Montrose and I end up having the infamous pleasure of being the very last person to sign out.



36 thoughts on “TGOC2017 – Shiel Bridge To Aberdeen, Part Five

  1. Well done! You stuck at it through a few problems which is more than I think I’d do. Clocked up those miles at the end despite the best efforts of the authorities to make the city a walk no go zone.
    I use Flickr to store my photos and then link to them on WordPress which doesn’t use any space. I think I pay Β£20 for 3 years but I’d have to check. I always reckoned that was a decent deal for an online storage back up of my photos. Hope that helps


    1. Thanks Andy, Geoff kept saying he’d never have stuck to it! πŸ˜€
      We do store our photos for free on a cloud somewhere – think it’s Google – but they obviously still take up space on the blog. I know some people downsize their photos too, but that seems like too much trouble to me. I’m going to have give it all some thought though. I’ve already been paying wordpress $20 a year for some time…


      1. Flickr has an option to extract the HTML code that you add to the blog so it become a weblink to the photo so takes up no space in WordPress at at all (not sure if Google can do that). I have a free WordPress account that has 3Gb storage. I used 1Gb in less than a year until I worked out the Flickr option. In the 5 years since I’ve used less than 500Mb which I assume is just text and the occasional map jpeg I upload.


  2. Brill read Chrissie and congrats again for digging deep on the last couple of days. Enjoyed reading your adventure.

    BTW, I use Flickr for my photos on WordPress, takes far less room that way. Not sure if you do the similar?


    1. Thanks Robin πŸ™‚
      My photos come off a cloud somewhere or the computer. Not sure how it really works. Geoff’s been nagging me to use blogger for ages as they don’t charge at all, but I don’t like blogger. Might have to though…

      Liked by 1 person

  3. First of all Chrissie, well done ma dear. You are one tough cookie. The outskirsts of Aberdeen are just a construction site just now with the new bypass being built. The B9077 can also be a busy road. I used to come across the B979 from Sonehaven and then along the B9077 when heading for Banchory. I’m so glad you managed to complete it. Was routing for you every day. You’re the coast to coast Queen in my eyes. Great achievement. πŸ˜‰πŸ‘


  4. Brilliant Chrissie, well done. It is frustrating and time consuming when routes suddenly vanish. An impressive achievement..


  5. They messed you around a bit on that section – although the Deeside Way started off lovely.

    What’s this about WordPress wanting to charge you? why? I hope they’re not going to do that to me


    1. If i’d stuck to the Deeside Way all the way initially, it would have been much better! πŸ˜€
      The charge is all to do with the space the photos take up. They’ve been charging me $20 a year for years now, but that option suddenly doesn’t exist anymore, apparently. I’m no good at this re-sizing stuff, it’s beyond me!


      1. ah – luckily, I won’t fall foul of that one. If I use Richard’s digi-photos I compress them to ‘document’ size and, when I scan my film ones, I just use 150dpi. That’s all you really need for looking at on a screen as screens aren’t great resolution. My photo file sizes are about 300-500 kb whereas digi-files off your camera are 1-2 mb


  6. Well done Chrissie. The Challenge is a challenge in all sorts of ways! At the end of day 3, I was so depressed I just wanted it to finish. Happily things brightened up and in the end I enjoyed it.

    Getting to the coast without too much road walking is a challenge in itself. I did the Feterresso which was ok from a road walking perspective but dispiriting in other ways. It’s not surprising that so many do Tarfside/Edzell/Northwater Bridge/St Cyrus or Kinnaber Links as the road walking is limited. If you ever go to Dinnet again, the Hotel does wonderful food and they are very welcoming to walkers. From Dinnet the walk through Glen Tanar is lovely.

    You’ve filled in one of the blanks as I met Mark briefly on the way to Ballater and I’d forgotten his name.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks Robin πŸ™‚
      I saw you’d been to Dinnet, then turned south through Glen Tanar and the Feterresso. Looked good, although the Deeside Way is actually quite nice too, if you stick to it…..
      If I remember rightly, I think Mark set off from Plockton like you did.


  7. On WordPress, I always reduce the size of my pictures using Pixresizer (free) which means even after ten years I still have plenty of space. You can batch resize, so it’s quick.

    You could just start another WordPress blog. I think you get a new space allowance with each blog, but you’d need to check.


    1. James has been telling me for years that I should be re-sizing my photos for the blog, but, a) I didn’t/don’t know how to do it and, b) it feels like too much trouble to have to go to, just to write a blog post, when I don’t really want them down sized anyway, in case we want to do something else with them. (Geoff sometimes uses some of mine in his magazine articles for example and then they have to be a certain size ie big! It’s all beyond me really!)


      1. I backup all of my photos to my Onedrive / Windows account and then simply use WP’s “insert from URL” function to embed them in the blog post at full size. Seems to work and doesn’t use any of my storage space. It doesn’t work for the post’s featured image though, so you would need to put one photo per post on WP.


  8. Hi Chrissie
    Only just catching up with Challenge blogs (hard to read this year, bit depressing) but looks like you had a grand time! It’s the people that make it, especially when times are tough. Like the little twists to a familiar route. Hope you’ll be back so we can bump into each other and have a chin wag!
    Louise xx

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Louise
      Yes it was great fun, really enjoyed the mix of being mostly on my own, but yet meeting up with folk from time to time. I can understand it being a bit hard for you to read other peoples’ blogs this year, I’d be exactly the same.
      Hoping to apply for next year, and also trying my best to get a certain OH to come along too…. xx

      Liked by 2 people

  9. Well.
    That was an excellent read, Chrissie. It’s not long now until the entry form arrives for TGO Challenge 2018…
    Just you make sure that that Geoff chap signs up as well. Don’t let that bounder Mr Williams dissuade him!
    Well walked and well writted up too!

    Liked by 1 person

  10. A brilliant read Chrissie. As others have said you’re a tough lady and well done you for not giving up. Those sudden twists and turns of emotion and mental fortitude on the Challenge are the main challenge aren’t they. I remember being sat in our B&B in Drumnadrochit feeling so low and beat because of my feet that I was almost in tears on the phone to the wife. I didn’t want to give up and I didn’t. The Challenge was something I’d wanted to do for so long and no way was I giving up. Well done and hopefully our paths will cross sometime πŸ™‚


    1. Thanks for that, Elton. I think things like that are definitely more mental than physical, aren’t they? I remember crying on that penultimate night, after I’d had to back track due to the road works. I felt so close, and yet so far at that point! It’s funny, because I never think of myself as being very tough at all, yet I do seem to be able to tap into a determination at times. Geoff calls me ‘Bloody minded….’!


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