5495 miles already walked

To the Granite City and Beyond

As the walking week began I was presented with a personal dilemma: when is it the right time to step into my two new pairs of size 9 walking boots? I’ve discovered that as my ‘bootometer’ mileage has increased, so too has my foot size.

The sight of hundreds of seals at Newburgh was definitely the highlight of the week. In bright sunshine, I heard them long before I saw them all lying out on a sand bar. Many more were swimming in the water, black heads bobbing up and down all over the place.  Noting the number of mouths to feed I did wonder if the local fish population stood any chance of survival.

Thick sea mist (or haar, as the locals call it) hid a lot from view at the beginning of the week. Entering Montrose was a foggy disappointment, although the hospitality of the local Royal British Legion in hosting us and our vehicle overnight was positively bright.  Acts of kindness like this continue on a daily basis: the local shop at Johnshaven helped with battery charging, and at Stonehaven we were given permission by the Harbour Master to park overnight on the quay.

The walk to Stonehaven was an interesting one, first passing the vast Dunnottar castle which stands on an impregnable rock, separated from the mainland by a deep ravine.  Further along the path I visited Stonehaven’s unusual war memorial.  Of a doric column construction, it sits high above the town’s charming harbour with commanding views out to sea and across to the town’s golf course.  Here   a fleeing German aircraft once jettisoned an unused bomb over the course leaving a vast crater. It’s still clearly visible between the first and second fairway and is now known as Hitler’s Bunker!

On Stonehaven’s old Pier we noted the first signs of entering an area where the oil industry has played such a prominent role over the years. As part of the teaching facilities provided by a sea survival academy, orange lifeboats hung from davits along the quay. Next day, a little further up the coast I was able to see a vast ‘lifeboat graveyard’, where boats currently not in use out in the oil fields are being maintained and retained for future use.

On reaching Aberdeen, often referred to as ‘the granite city’ I learned that the slump in oil price had had a detrimental effect on Aberdeen and its surrounding areas, but things are beginning to improve as the price begins to creep up again.  My walk into Aberdeen gave me fantastic views of the busy docks, more training facilities and the new shipping control centre.  What interested me most was the proximity of city centre traffic and pedestrians to the busy port.  At street level, churches, office blocks, the city’s traffic and gigantic ships appear to share the same space.   

Back on the coast, sporadic footpath markings have meant it’s been a case of keeping a close eye on my map.  Along the way I’ve had to use some of the disused railway lines which have been converted to cycle paths and walkways.  I have done rough walking, beach walking, road walking and spent some exhausting times going up and down narrow twisty cliff paths, in and out of cliff inlets, many with sheer drops below. The cliff views have been stunning, providing you like heights.  In some places, lush new grass hides the route and conceals many rabbit holes.  Bunnies are currently out in force!

And finally, I did decide to step into my new size 9 walking boots and am pleased to report that they are a success.  I’m considering taking bets on what size my boots might be when I complete the walk.  I’m also wondering what to do with 5 pairs of partly used (size 8 ½) boots. Ideas on a post card please!

See Photo Album No 33 - To the Granite City and Beyond