July 9

Day 50 Arbroath to Montrose

The weather wasn’t very promising today as we set out from Arbroath. We intended to have a cliff top stroll but the low cloud and persistent rain seemed to rule out that plan. Our plan B was to take our old friend cycletrack No 1 instead. After all what is the point of a cliff top walk if the track is wet and slimey and visibility is nil? In some despondency we set off, passing sheds from which emanated the smell of smoking fish.

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Neither of us wanted the dull old cycletrack really so that as we walked along the prom, the sky cleared a little and the mist lifted just enough to make us give the cliff path a go.
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What a delight it was to find that the path had been surfaced and was dry and smooth. The cliffs are not high, perhaps 140 ft at most, but being sandstone have been sculpted by the action of the sea into interesting shapes. Of course there is the other side of the coin. The sea has made loads of inlets and bays so that the stroll isn’t a straight line by any stretch of the imagination.

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The cliff stroll is very easy to follow as there are no sensible choices to be made. The path follows the top of the cliff with, on one side, a netting fence and on the other a drop to eternity. The plant life was very abundant. There were vivid flowers of all sorts and long grasses. The rain had made this abundant plant life overhang the path. As the path narrowed we started to get really wet feet from the rainy grass. Wicking socks are great usually but do wick water into shoes as well as out. We started to get a little tired of the footy discomfort so were delighted to see that the path went down to the shore and to a shingly surface where we should be able to walk dryly.

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Silly old us again. The beach had large pebbles and lasted only for about 50 yards so we had to wade through more long wet grass and climb back up

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A cyclist had told us of the But ‘n’ Ben at Auchmithie where the food was excellent. Auchmithie was on our route and we started to dream about a log fire where we could toast our toes as our shoes gently dried. On entering the But n Ben it was obvious that our drying feet wouldn’t add anything to the enjoyment of the other diners, so we decided to just eat instead.

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If you like fish then the But n Ben is for you. When walking we don’t usually eat very much at lunchtime as it makes us want to sleep but looking at the menu I had to make an exception. Should I choose lobster? Perhaps …..? In the end I went for buttered Arbroath Smokie and Janet had a bowl of smokie soup. We soon forgot our wet feet when the nosh arrived.

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The rest of the stroll was a delight too We started to get drier feet as the sun came out. Of course this was too good to last another long lane filled with long wet grass got us more or less where we were as we arrived at the But n Ben. In order to put things right again we stopped at the Lunan Bay Diner for a cream tea. Thus restored we could press onwards towards Ferryden

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From Ferryden to Montrose took no time at all. As a person coming from the largest inland county in England I am fascinated by docks and harbours and the hive of activity which takes place there. It is all so foreign to my experience and looks very exotic. It probably seems odd to those working in these places to see me hanging about taking photos of everything and nothing.
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Montrose is a town of statues. I can understand why Montrose’s statue is in pride of place but I’m not sure about the others.

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Robert Peel
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Another bloke called Hume
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The rain has gone away and our Montrose microclimate is sunny once again. Tomorrow we press on once more in a northerly direction. Perhaps I can allow myself a dram now after a wonderful day.

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July 10

Day 51 Montrose to Inverbervie

Chez nous Montrose.
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We set out from Montrose fortified by a substantial breakfast. It has become obvious over the last weeks that BBC weather is interested in England and Wales rather than Scotland. Scotland wasn’t mentioned at all on this morning’s weather forecast and the map showed a massive England and a small Scotland hidden at the top of the map. As the BBC seemed to think that there was no weather in Scotland today we set out dressed for summer. Our own meterorological measurements, quickly taken with bare heads, told us that it was raining in Montrose. As a result out came the waterproof coats and waterproof kilts ready to combat anything that could be thrown at us.

Today has been a day of blocked paths. Our friendly cycle track took us around the junior football club but not as we expected as the path was blocked.
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Then onwards through a lovely wooded path which is the remanant of a dimantled railway.

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The track crosses the old railway viaduct over the North Esk river out of Montrose.

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Janet told me that she remembered, as a child so not recently, that there was a sort of toll house at one end of the road bridge. When we got there it seemed as though her memory was faulty but then she spotted a chimney covered in ivy and underneath the chimney and ivy? A round toll house just as she had remembered.
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Our coastal track led onwards to St Cyrus where the track rose upwards into the village. We decided to carry on along the coastal trail as it was flat, by the sea and signposted passing a closed cemetary.
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We arrived at the staircase to heaven or St Cyrus to find it blocked because of landslides so had to abandon plan B and carry on along the coast.
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Strolling on sand is quite romantic but heavy going after a while. It can be a little daunting too when there doesn’t appear to be an easy way out.

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We carried on, enjoying St Cyrus beach as, by now, the steady drizzle had stopped.
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After the climbing upwards to continue along the coastal path everything became much more difficult. The path shown on our map followed the line of a fence on top of a cliff. A notice suggested that this path was now closed due to a landslide. It was obvious that a path had existed but was now overgrown. I struck off down the path because sometimes local authorities err on the side of caution but, with a little care, one can get through. After 30 or so yards it became obvious that we needed a plan C as the cliff had collapsed and the only possible way through was to cling to the fence and pray for deliverance.

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Plan C took us out onto the busy A92 for a while. We realised quite quickly that we had to get off the road for our own safety and for that of drivers.
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A farm lane pointing to the sea seemed a good solution to our problem. It took us on a parallel path to the coast.
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The way was shingly but the tide was out so we could pick our way along. It seemed to take ages but, undaunted, we pressed onwards.
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At Milton Haven holiday village we crossed a nice wooden bridge over the burn
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What a nuisance that we missed the sign advising the stroller that it was forbidden to cross the neatly mown grass and that instead they must force there weary way through heavy thistly nettled undergrowth.
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Down on the shingly shore once more we came to a slippery track upwards. In today’s terms it was quite an easy task, if undertaken with care. At this point we both agreed that the Pennine Way was a doddle compared to this.
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Onwards to Johnshaven along a nice grassy track
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And onwards even more
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Finally. the Anchor Bar, Cullen skink

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A nice bit of natural sculpture outside the boatyard.
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Inverbervie
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The last bit to Inverbervie was dead easy, compared to what had gone before. I have raced through the last bit as the internet has been up and down like any simile you can imagine so that’s it for tonight. See you in Stonehaven, rock slides permitting.

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July 11

Day 52 Inverbervie to Stonehaven

Weather forecast for today, heavy, slow moving, showers. Bang on met office, a triumph.

Due to accommodation stuff we needed to catch a bus to Inverbervie this morning. We intend to walk every step/mile so have to return each day to the spot where we finished the day before in order to achieve this lofty aim. We waited at a bus stop but our X7 Coastrider bus driver waved his hands in a strange manner as he passed by. He didn’t stop his bus because our chosen bus stop was a place for other, less important, buses so we had to walk to a more important bus stop and wait for another.If our bus had not been so self important we would not have met an interesting chap who happened to be waiting for his bus too.

Arriving in Inverbervie we headed straight to a tea shop for cake. By this time we were a little off schedule
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Having eaten our cake we left the baker as the skies opened. Secure in our waterproof clothing we set off anyway.
Our first encounter was with a scantily dressed maiden posing provocatively in a small enclosure.
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Closer inspection of a plaque solved the mystery.
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The map showed us a nice way out of Inverbervie via an old road and bridge. We followed the road, crossed the lovely bridge and stopped. The old road was a road no more. We climbed a long staircase to the new road and carried on. Rain still bucketing down I managed to get a photo of this silly old bridge.

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By sheer good fortune the busy road on which we had to walk had recently been resurfaced. This meant that instead of driving at the speed of sound drivers were keen to protect their vehicles from stone damage. I would say that 30mph was the maximum speed we had to endure.

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The day has been the wettest yet. The showers have been very heavy with little respite. My trusty waterproof jacket let in the rain and our kilts flapped about our knees. From time to time the skies cleared but we knew that all around were the blackest of clouds ready to pounce once more.
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With wet everything we detoured into Catterline. On the map we could see a beer mug in Catterline. The beer mug signalled the Creel Inn. The Creel Inn was open. The Creel Inn sold Cullen skink. I have eaten this dish three days on the trot. I could eat it again tomorrow.
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Our ways have been, for the most part, on minor roads. The going has been easy with open views when the clouds opened up.
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The last mile or so challenged our resolve. We could see a green lane into Stonehaven and decided to go for it as the alternative was the A92. The green lane looked as though it was blocked with gorse but there was a sign inviting cyclists and pedestrians to follow a beautifully surfaced path at the side of the A92. This seemed like a good alternative so we took it. After xome 100 yds the path stopped and the sign said “Cyclists rejoin A92” “What about pedestrians?” We said, plaintively, as by now the heaviest rainstorm I have ever been privileged to stand out in was bouncing off our clothing.

Luckily for us we found another green lane, very wet underfoot but going in the right direction. It was just as well that we were well laced into our boots though or I believe that we would have floated out of them.

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We had hoped to visit Dunottar Castle today but decided that we were too wet to enjoy it. That was a pleasure we had to leave for another time, unlike the pleasure of sitting at each end of the bath washing our feet in order to be able to eat in a public place without offending other diners.

Having dried our shoes with a hairdryer we are looking forward to tomorrow’s stroll into Aberdeen. Aberdeen, I can hardly believe it.

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July 12

Day 53 Stonehaven to Aberdeen

To be honest, I find it hard to believe that we have walked from Shrewsbury to Aberdeen. In addition, I find it hard to believe that we have walked from Ponte Caffaro to Aberdeen.

Breakfast for me is quite an important meal. The smoked haddock was very good and the poached eggs weren’t too shabby either. We knew that today’s stroll might be longish and that we might need to amend the route as we went along so I wanted to have plenty of fuel in the tank.

We started by strolling along the prom in Stonehaven. The sun shone and the wind was breezy so what better way to start the day?
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Getting out of Stonehaven was something of a puzzle but a B road presented itself as a possible, no, the only candidate.
The new Aberdeen bypass is beginning to make itself felt on the landscape around Stonehaven so we encountered some road works as we approached the A92. Once on to our chosen B road the hoped for tranquillity was not to be.The frequent traffic made life quite difficult for us. We started to try to work out a system of thanks for those taking the trouble to avoid our fragile forms. Those who made a great detour to avoid us got a rousing wave of thanks, those who acknowledged that we had made an effort ourselves to get out of the way got a thumbs up and so on. Those who pretended that there were no pedestrians on the road got a simmering glance of distain.

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Everything ends in the end as did this passage of stroll. Once off our challenging B road we found our last two mint imperials, saved for a special occasion, and ate them grateful for deliverance from the motor car. We did notice that BMW, Mercedes and Bentley drivers were considerate to a fault.
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Small roads took us onwards. Occasionally, down a farm track, we were not too sure if we would find a way out but always managed it.
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The time came when we needed to cross the A90, a busy dual carriageway. The hoped for bridge did not materialise but having crossed the Hog’s Back in Surrey we felt able to judge the moment and leg it at high speed across this river of metal barring our progress.
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Port Lethen and the pub for us. A pint and a packet of crisps does wonders for morale.
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Coming out of Port Lethen we spotted a nice track leading down to the railway station. It looked as though it would cut off some mileage. The start was very promising indeed being a lovely path to the station. Afterwards the path became more overgrown. By now we were committed to our course so pressed on with nettled ankles to spur us on.
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Small, interesting, roads took us onwards. The weather forecast had been for good weather with the possibility of showers but the clouds seemed to be gathering or, in the language of meteorologists, becoming more organised. Thankfully for us they failed to organise a shower but just lurked darkly overhead.
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After some 14 miles or so we started to flag. Janet spotted that there was a pub in Cove Bay. On arrival in Cove Bay we had to make quite a decision. Our proposed path led along the railway line. The railway station was quite high up the village. The pub was near to the shore so quite low down. Do we expend our waning energy finding out it the pub is open, then having to climb back up to the station, or do we carry on? Good sense prevailed and we found that the pub was open and would sell us puddings and tea. A massive bowl of sticky toffee pudding would revive anyone. To be honest I needed a few miles of stroll in order to get back up to speed after this calorific overdose
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One of our guides these last days has been cycle track No 1. We intended to follow this beacon into Aberdeen but were sorely disappointed to find that, as it left Cove Bay, it really wasn’t safe for pedestrians. The road was narrow, busy and there was nowhere for the timid stroller to get out of the way of traffic. What a stroke of luck then that Aberdeenshire has created a cliff top stroll into Nigg Bay. The message that it is a slippery and dangerous path seemed overly dramatic, especially when compared to the road. So off we gratefully trotted along the cliffs into Aberdeen. A longer route but a safer and more interesting route.

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This is the bridge which took us to safety an the coastal path
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The internet has decided that enough is enough and has gone to sleep for today. Perhaps I should do the same. Today has been much much more interesting than I could possibly have expected or hoped. It was longer than expected by about 2 miles bt was muchu better for that. Now we are on the home straight.
Tomorrow we have a day of rest. A day to plan and to finish this nonsense with a working internet.

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July 13

Day 54 Aberdeen

Even the carefree life on the open footpath must sometimes stop in order to do the admin. Today is admin day. Tomorrow we start the final furlong or final four days.
Good old Wetherspoon’s is providing this evening’s Wifi but typing on this mini phone is quite taxing as my fingers are too fat.
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We spent quite a few hours working out how we would get from Aberdeen to Inverallochy with daily distances of about 12 – 15 miles each day. This plan was dependent on accommodation. After the first phone call our plans fell apart. New plan needed sharpish.
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The new itinerary is a bit lop sided. Some days will be long and others short.

The last day, Sunday, will be from Strichen to Inverallochy. We decided ages ago that this would be the last day. Oddly, we both wanted this to be the last day without telling the other.

We have posted home to Inverallochy all the stuff we believe that we can manage without.
If the weather turns nasty then we shall freeze.

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If all goes well tomorrow we will be in Udny, a village my spell check wants to call undie.

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July 14

Day 55 Aberdeen to Udny

If you want a substantial breakfast before setting out on a stroll from Aberdeen then Contour Cafe is for you. We asked for bacon, eggs, tomato and toast. The chap misunderstood and brought that which his usual customers order. When our ancient faces fell he zoomed back into the the kitchen and, after a few minutes, the most delicious breakfast appeared.

We usually look for a river or canal to leave a major city but that was not possible in Aberdeen. Instead of these watery exits we went for our old friend cycletrack track no 1. When coming into Aberdeen our friend led us onto a dangerous road so we wondered what lay ahead.

At first we strolled down Union Street. The first time I drove down Union Street I was astonished when the pelican crossings all turned red at the same time. The street was suddenly full of people all crossing at the same time up and down the street. This morning it was we who were part of the crossing multitude.

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Cycletrack 1 left Aberdeen via Old Aberdeen. What a treat it was to stroll along the old cobbled streets lined with lovely old houses, churches and university buildings. I had no idea that the old town was so lovely.
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Once away from the old town we enjoyed a mile or two of busy road. Our recently purchased OS map is woefully out of date so flats had been built where once was green space. We were also quite surprised to see a busy road and bridge over the river where none was to be seen on our cartographical masterpiece.
A brief stroll down to the river path, which lasted for 10 metres, and we were on the road to Dyce. Dyce is the home of Aberdeen Airport. Helicopters seem to fly in and out with relentless frequency.
We ate cullen skink again for lunch. I could eat it every day. The track from Dyce begins at Dyce railway station so filled with cullen skink we made our way to the disused railway line, our last section of this stroll, we were soon in open countryside. The rtackside filled with flowers of all sorts. Wild rasberry bushes were everywhere but no lovely red berries yet.
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We strolled past the Stonehaven end of the new Aberdeen bypass two days ago. Today we strolled past the other end. The works are enormous so it was a delight to walk around and through this mighty endeavour. The massive earth moving machines are very impressive at close quarters.

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Then back to peace and serenity.
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Today has been a real pleasure. It has been a day of four parts.
Firstly, strolling down Union Street.
Secondly, Old Aberdeen.
Thirdly, the busy road to Dyce and the airport.
Fourthly, the dismantled railway line and its flower filled margins.

Tomorrow will be a short stroll. It will be no more than 6 miles so our feet can relax after today’s exertions.

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July 15

Day 56 Udny Station to Ellon

Udny station is a station in name only these days. All that remains of its former glory is a long platform hidden by undergrowth. The railway lasted for 100 yrs as a railway but, luckily for cyclists and strollers, carries on at a slower pace under human power.

Udny to Ellon has been an easy, short, stroll. We have had no dramas to deal with and our waterproof clothes have been zipped in their zipped compartments all day long.

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Crossing the River Ythan into Buchan signals the near end of this particular stroll. It is difficult to believe that we shall stroll for just two days more.

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We have visited Ellon a few times and it has seemed to be quite small. Visiting on foot via the railway has quite changed my perception of its size.
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Tomorrow Strichen where:
As I get doon by Strichen toon
I heard a fair maid mournin’
She was makin’ sair complaint
For her true love ne’er returnin’

Although in our case this is not true as we have the honeymoon suite tonight, if our jolly waitress is to be believed.

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