Sunday, 17 August 2014

TGO Challenge 2012 - Tarfside to North Water Bridge

Bacon butties and egg sarnies were on offer in the kitchen of St Drostans. I had two.

And a mug of tea too.

Others missed out because they were tardy. It was their fault. Right, Andrew?

I don't really remember what time I got going after breakfast but it wasn't early for sure. I'd been warned about bridges over the River Esk being 'a bit iffy', and the first one I reached confirmed those reports, the sign was very clear. It pretty much said "Cross and you will die". They were wrong.

With wanton abandon I walked, gingerly, across the decaying planks. They creaked a little, but I managed to escape with my life.

In spite of my very clear memories of the preceding day, the detail of this section is hazy at best. I find myself needing to look at my maps now, just to remember the route. I followed the route on the south of the Esk, pretty much hugging the banks after the bridge at Woodhaugh.

Leaving St Drostan's

The banks of the Esk
It was another superb day as far as the weather was concerned. In fact, since leaving Braemar there had been nothing but sunshine and clear skies on the trail. To say that we were lucky would be an understatement.

I 'leapfrogged' with several challengers along the banks. Many of them were folk I had not seen before.

Every now and then, I would see one of these traps.  They don't make me happy. 

I think this is a 'Martin bank.  
I thought this was a nice bridge.
Other than the hills, it is a lot like Suffolk. 

My Dad would have liked to see this.
A lot...
As I said, I leapfrogged a few challengers, most of them unknown to me, apart from Jane Egg. Most were unknown, until I reached Edzell, that is. It was like Braemar in terms of the sheer weight of TGO'ers. Batallions of rucksacks lined up outside many shops and watering holes.
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 First things first - an army marches on its stomach, or so they say. I sat down for a high tea of fish and chips followed by cake at the Tuck Inn café. Very nice it was too. Although I did feel a tad over-full.

Eddy and Alastair Hunt in that order.
Lindsay Jones had a Cucumber and was eating it like it was a stick of rock. It wasn't odd at all. She had also burned her arm somehow. The girl is a liability, but very sweet and likeable, all the same.
I told you.  She had a cucumber.

Still can't remember the name of that pub.

Ngomu aka 'Charles' - a very great man.

I messed around getting supplies, including some Tennants Super, for the evening at North Water Bridge, for I had heard that there was no boozer nearby and what better than 9% rocket fuel? Right, Lynsey?
I drifted off after a few beers at the pub whose name escapes me, walking alone over the impossible to find bridge and along the roads, through farmland and here and there, finally strolling into North Water bridge with some challengers whose names escape me still. I wish I had written notes after Braemar. Next time I will.

I promise.

There was a bit of messing about and waiting for pitches as I recall. But the site was good enough and I am sure that they enjoyed a bumper revenue that day.

Encampment at North Water Bridge

Down shot.

More tents.

In case anyone needed proof that we do actually walk...
I scoffed about 3 mountain meals having brought far too many with me, and after washing and brushing again (two days in a row with sanitation? luxurious!!) I set about doing some socialising. I met David Lintern, we had exchanged a few words on social media before the challenge and I introduced myself. David is simply a very nice man. Easy to talk to. Utterly inoffensive, wise, and charming. He is also very very talented. So pop over to to see what I mean.

I established myself at one of the picnic benches on site, and set my cans of 'Super' on the table. There were gasps all around, and the mockery began. I was forced by Lynsey & Alastair to drink a bottle of real ale to redress the balance, and Ian Cotterill convinced me to sample some of his 'cask strength' Laphroaig. Now, I don't usually like those peaty western malts, but the setting seemed to make it go down much more easily.

Having no booze to return the favour, I later recalled that I had carried 5 or 6 100g bars of Lindt chocolate from Strathcarron and had hardly touched any of it. I opened the packets and laid them on the table, breaking them into pieces for all to share. After Jane Egg had had her fill, the rest of us picked a few crumbs for ourselves.

As you can see from this photograph of an Akto, there was a stiff wind that evening.


Lynsey was running out of Nature Valley bars.
We each drifted off to our pits for a much-needed sleep.

Tomorrow would be 'St. Cyrus day'.


  1. "As you can see from this photograph of an Akto, there was a stiff wind that evening. "
    Very good Sir!

  2. Don't talk to me about Bacon.
    On a PLUS note, they had some in 2014, even after Sloman and Lambert had been in for extra portions.
    The IFFY bridge is now gone.
    Totally boarded up with barbed wire and huge planks.
    Mind you, so is the one across the Dee near Derry Lodge.
    I doubt the one at tarfside will get replaced now, which makes it a bit of an arse to hike back, or a wade to get across to to the Clash of Wirren.
    Then again, who would want to go to Brechin?
    You can cross further up after a 2nd breakfast at the Retreeat , and still get into the hills of Wirren from Keen (a place Mr Sloman will NEVER GO).

    So, one more day to go then.
    What will we then look forward to eh?

  3. Bugger. You found me.

    Shame about the bridge, I'm insured so the wife wouldn't have minded.

    One more day. Only one more day. Still, there's hope that the train might be delayed, or the track may be washed away. At least, that's what she was thinking, my wife.

  4. I'm glad I nipped round to North Water Bridge that evening :-). I had a great time chatting to everyone, although it was a little strange not to actually be on the TGOC that year!

    I think we might still have some of those Nature Valley bars left...

  5. So am I. It was great to see you again.

    It's a shame you can't both challenge on the same year.