Last Friday, I think it was, that The Third Cohort of Clava Pedestres Pugnare (Fight Club Hikers) took to the hills a bit South of Aviemore for the fighting advance from the salubrious seaside port of Buckie back to Aviemore, a distance of Quite A Lot of Miles, entirely on foot and carrying only enough supplies for four days. In other words, a wee hikie.
I arrived at teatime and undertook the walk from Aviemore train station to a campsite somewhere near Kincraig. I was a little dumfounded by the “Speyside Way” signs pointing South since the Speyside Way website says that it stops at Aviemore. But it doesn’t – it carries on, unofficially at the moment, but soon, it’ll go all the way to Newtonmore, the plans having been passed by the relevant authorities.
The road to Kincraig gets dangerous for Pedestres, so when Masey stopped and picked me up, it came as a relief, even though I’d only got another 300 metres to go. Wibble was already there – tent erected doing his naughty impressions wot he heard through a keyhole once in 1987.
Paddy and Gill arrived shortly afterwards and, camp established we repaired back to Aviemore for fish suppers and beers.
The walk went well enough. A taxi took us all to Buckie and we walked and walked and walked and called in at one or two pubs on the way – notably in Fochabers, Aberlour and Cromdale , the Haugh Inn, being technically closed whilst still managing to serve 15 pints of beer… more of which later.
The walk itself starts interestingly with a coastal ramble with seals and, if you’re lucky, dolphins too, and , at the Dolphin Centre the cafe does really bijoux bacon butties. And then the way starts to follow the Spey, developing into a forest ramble and then a disused railway line. This goes on and on interminably. I mean it really does go on and on and on. It would be much better on a bike. Don’t try this walk alone, readers, you’ll go mad. It’ll be like being in solitary confinement. If it hadn’t been for Wibble’s naughty impressions and Gill’s dancing about I may have gone mad. Aaaaaargh….
After Aberlour, there is relief and, with a couple of pints sloshing in the belly, morale is lifted as the first contours are encountered and the way starts to follow a long, straight road. On and on it goes… on and on and on.
We camped in a stubbly field. Somebody had a ride around said field in a van at dusk but gave a cheery thumbs up or wave and peaceful night followed. In the morning it was raining and I set off early to find water, which I did a mile and a bit further on. I filtered a couple of litres into a water bag and waited under a bridge for the rest of Coh III CPP to arrive.
We progressed through more interesting countryside including some tightly arranged contours in the forest followed by an Aberlour Interlude before joining that feckin railway line again. This went on and on and on and on. After this it continued ever onwards in an onwards direction. Then Masey declared a camping spot and we camped in a nice place beside the river. There was a small campfire on the stony beach, apparently. Unfortunately I missed it due to an attack of post dinner lassitude, an attack which lasted all night and during which I failed to grapple with Kylie’s bra strap.
The morning was misty then warm and, out of synch with Coh III’s relaxed approach to getting out of bed, and having become the subject of some midgie attention I plodded off to find the water tap at Ballindalloch. Coh III dribbled in later.
More of the railway path followed. And followed and followed and followed…. then the route takes to the hills … It goes up and down and in and out and there’s views and all kinds of delights and then it gets to Cromdale where it all started to go
We entered the closed Haugh Hotel and we were served in a most friendly manner by a lass from Wakefield. We stayed a while and then, in a happy mood, we left for Grantown. On the way, I shared my whisky (I must have been happy… this is unusual…) and we entered Grantown in High Spirits, having lost the Speyside Way somewhere on the way. We set up camp on the crowded campsite and set off for The Craig Bar, as recommended by the lass at the Haugh Hotel. The Craig Bar does pies – no, I mean lots of different pies. All kinds of pies. And chips. Its just the place for a Pieman, in fact. My pie was a lamb pie and it was really nice.
Then we took to drinking, in an effort to catch up with the landlord who appeared not only to be out of his tree, but to be unaware, in fact, that any trees were available. He did, in fact, seem to be completely kaylied. As a newt, in fact. So, the quest was a futile but enjoyable one and we Supped Some Stuff. This may have been a Bad Idea.
The next morning on the campsite was a slow one. I’d already announced my intention to end my walk at Grantown, being on a three-line whip to return to Crook by Monday night for family duties. But during the night Gill had developed a lurgy, which took out her and Paddy and Wibble too decided to join the retreat to Aviemore. Masey battled on and, in fact, arrived at Aviemore in time to join the retreaters in the pub. I couldn’t have managed that type of speed anyway, and I was, in fact, also brewing a lurgy similar to Gill’s although this took two more days to emerge properly – probably my older and more experienced immune system and my super-developed body mass index, which, of course, Gill doesn’t have (she’s not fat like me..)
And so, it ended. And we all went home and didn’t do trip reports on internet forums…
I think I did fifty miles. My bum muscles hurt still, and I found a dead tick on my back. Probably killed by beta blockers, aspirin, ace inhibiters, calcium inhibiters, statins, aspirin, Bellhaven Best and bad blood. But apart fromn the nausea, hurty bum, plantar faciitis, destroyed kidneys and smelly socks, it was a fun-filled walk. Hopefully, everybody else will have recovered by now.