I woke in just about enough time to get packed.
AT THE AGREED TIME
Then off to get breakfast at St Drostans
Then down the river
OR SO I THOUGHT
So, I woke in time
Actually, a lot early
Performed ablutions (sit down porcelain)
Went back to tent
TO DISCOVER that Al and Phil were not ready, because they had MOVED the Goalposts
They had gone to get breakfast early
And NOT only that
They had NOT told me
AND…………. It gets worse
EATEN THE LAST BACON BUTTIES
So, by the time I got there WITH ALL MY KIT
Not only was the bacon GONE, but so were all the Eggs
Thankfully Ann went to their camper van with enough eggs to do an Egg Roll
BUT …… Here is the point
IT WAS NOT BLOODY BACON!!!
So, what I am saying to all the brilliant people that run St Drostans and Tarfside, and do a brilliant job is
Next Year, BUY MORE BACON
Anyway, I had already told Al and Phil, who had gone back and were NOW also planning to walk down the road that ……….
I would see them somewhere on the way to Edzell, past the bridge
BECAUSE, I was NOT going back to the Campsite
NOR walking down the bloody road
AND anyway, I had told Nigel that I would show him the way down the river, and also the secret bridge that takes you over to the Blue Door Walk (what with the bridge NOT being on any Maps)
AND…That is exactly what happened.
I had what was left of breakfast
Paid JD my bill
Had a chat with several folk
Then Nigel and I headed off over the bridge and down to the VERY rickety but OK bridge across to pick up the track to the Clash of Wirren, that you turn left off, almost as soon as you get on it, and it takes toy down the new LRT all the way to Keenie.
AND there is NO BLOODY TARMAC
So, IF you have any pictures of that bit Nigel, AND you read this, ping me a couple will you please.
I appear to have none of the early bit.
|Would it rain?
Looking over the Hills of Wirren Direction
|Wonderful Skies in the Esk Valley|
The river here is beautiful
|Another view from near Keenie.
Looking across, you can see more of the new LRT’s that scar the landscape.
I guess they are good for the local economy
I guess they make walking easier.
But There are so many of them
As we walked along, I counted at least 15 new wide Landrover access tracks running up the hillsides on both sides of the Esk
Even more this year.
Going back 7 years I can remember hardly any round here.
Now the hills are littered with them, along with the parallel electrified fences.
Is that all progress?
I am not sure.
|Tree near Keenie|
Anyway, as we headed round the track the other side of Keenie, we had to navigate past a large bulldozer that was rebuilding the track.
I am not sure if this was just track improvement, or if they had had a bit of a land slip over the winter.
|Trap across the ditch.
We saw a lot of these today
We carried on round to the bridge that is about ½k before Dalhastnie, where I spotted Phil and Mick walking up.
It was just past here that I met Al last year.
We carried on together.
Al was further along, having headed off before Phil.
We finally caught up with Al lying in a super spot a bit further along from the Milden Lodge iron bridge
|Mick, Al, Me & Gerry (Nigel is out of shot) – I think this is Phil’s picture|
Here we are having a another good stop.
Nigel was just behind me out of shot.
Gerry had caught up with us, and a few others had gone on.
We stayed here for quite a time, just sitting in the sun, and watching the river drift past.
What was the hurry, Edzell and Northwater Bridge would be there.
After a while we headed on.
It is actually a surprisingly long distance round the next corner.
I was a bit remiss with photos today, considering how good the weather was.
|Looking across the hills a bit earlier|
We carried on round the corner, gradually catching up with a group in front that had Russ in it.
It is amazing how fit you feel by this stage.
“We could have them!”
“Go on I dare you to run past them”
“I’m not going to do that I said as I sped off”
And so I did, walking at first, and then running past with full kit with a cry of
“Come on you lot, get a bloody move on!” or some such childish nonsense.
And then I stopped, because it was silly, and I walked for a while with Russ, until Al caught up, and we headed off. Catching another group a bit later on before the woods.
|Al’s Smiley Rucksack|
I couldn’t resist this, although it is a bit blurred because I took it on the move.
But I realised that to the insane mind, Al’s Rucksack had a big smiley face on it.
Yeah, OK, I was losing the plot by now!
And so it went on until we got to the spot where we would cut off the path, and cross the river on the New bridge that isn’t on maps yet.
You can see roughly were it is from the map.
It isn’t clear from the track.
While we waited here, the wind picked up, and then a sudden rain shower hit us.
It was sudden waterproofs.
Gerry handed out Barley Sugar sweets.
A few others passed us heading on towards Dalbog.
We went down and crossed the bridge
|BEWARE TICKS, SNAKES, BULLS & BULLETS|
I had spotted this last year.
It still raised a titter.
We crossed over the bridge, having picked up 2 more Travellers whose names I will get from Al.
The other side, there is a track that winds round to the left and then zig zags back up.
Al, Phil and Mick went left.
Gerry and I headed straight up the hill, followed by Nigel and the others.
At the top, we waited for Al, Phil and Mick to arrive.
Pretending not to be knackered by the sudden rapid climb.
From here, you follow the track up to the road.
Do NOT get lured off by the grassy track that appears to go straight on a bit further up.
We have been there.
That way lies madness, rufty tufty and a barbed wire fence.
Bear left to the road
Just before that left turn I spotted this little fellow/lass on the track
Turning right we made our way the short distance along the road until we turned off right again and dropped down to the beautiful walk along the Rocks Of Solitude to the Blue Door.
Stopping briefly (well, not that briefly) on the seat for a brew.
The next set of photos, and also the brief video are all of this short but brilliant route into Edzell, first discovered (as a Challenger not in reality) by Phil, and then shown to Al, and then Al showed me.
|Looking down at the river near the start|
|Al going through the rock built by the prisoners of war – Phil’s Picture|
|More of that beautiful walk (A’s Photo)|
|Carved Butterfly in Tree towards the end|
|View across to Big House|
|Looking Down to the river near the Blue door|
|The Blue Door|
Along this stretch apart from the Rocks of Solitude, the waterfalls, the rapids, the gorge, you will also pass through parts of the Estate, and also see the salmon Leap.
Near the start there is the magnificent path, carved out of the solid rock, so I am told by Napoleonic Prisoners of War.
We crossed the road, and carried on down the river, this time with the river on our left, until we turned off, about 200m before the suspension bridge, and made our way up to Edzell, and to the wonderful Tuck In cafe.
I shot up the road while Al settled in, to buy a PIE (Yep, Solid Food), for the night, and also up to the only shop (past the garage on your left), that sells Alcohol, to pick up and decant a bottle of wine.
I met John Jocys here, and we also got Jelly Babies.
Then I headed back to the Tuck In, to have a sit down, cup of tea and something to eat, before we had to set off on the ridiculously long (or so it seems) road walk to Northwater Bridge campsite.
After a goodly sit down, and after watching it intermittently rain, it was time to head off.
Al and Phil were already gone, and Mick was just leaving.
I packed my stuff eventually.
Found the MP3 player (cos that road is a bugger)
Tuned in, and zoned out
Headed down the road, and then left at the garage to go down and over the suspension bridge.
|Down river from the bridge|
I made my way across, and then followed the track out past the houses.
I short way along the road, before Chapleton, I met Mick, and we walked the rest of the way together.
In fact just after Chapleton, but before the road, we got hit by an almighty hail storm.
Just managed to get waterproofs on in time.
By the time we reached the road, it was done.
I took of thew waterproof trousers, but now couldn’t be bothered to lose the top.
So together, but independently, we headed along the road.
I was tuned into Zero 7 this year, and as far as I can tell, Mick was singing along to The Beatles.
We turned left at Northgate, and then right to follow the track parallel to the road.
I don’t think it is any further really, and it is far less stressful.
And you don’t risk getting wiped out by a lunatic on that last left hand corner, or some nutter doing a blind overtaking manouvre.
And so we arrived at Northwater Bridge campsite.
Paid our £6.00
And went and put tents up.
I was going to put mine up a bit closer to Al, on a lovely flat spot.
BUT Al stuck his head out and said “Where is Phil going to go?”
So rather than argue, I moved my Trailstar over to the right in another big patch.
Mick put his almost where I had thought of going
AND a bit later when Phil arrived, he put his tent NOWHERE NEAR that spot.
After I had put my tent up, the nice little man, whose car was on the path, and who had the big permanent home caravan cabin thingy to my right came furtivelky out, and moved it away.
Possibly to stop me doing something dreadful to it later on.
That would have been difficult mind you, because it was a Rover 400 so it had already had something dreadful done to it during design and manufacturing.
And with tent up, I went and washed up, and tidied up, and charged my phone and ate my pie, and all the stuff that you do at a campsite.
The weather was not good for a while consisting mainly of light rain.
Then as if by a miracle, although it was NOT WARM, it stopped raining, and folk came out from their tents, and sat around at tables.
Then others joined in the form of Vicky and Toby, who brought their table over to ours.
And there was, Al and Phil and Mick and Pete and Gerry and Russ and John and Lindsay and Vicky and Toby & loads of others I cannot remember.
And we spent the evening yet again in brilliant company,
talking and drinking,
and drinking and talking
and all manner of crazy things.
AND I had a brilliant time, and everything was going swimmingly well,
until Gerry brought out the Rusty Nails and I also drank that.
OK, to be fair I have scant recollection of much that happened that evening, other than having a good time
AND THEN I HAD TO WALK TO THE TOILET BLOCK before I went off to sleepy sleepy land
I may have had assistance on the journey (not in the toilet I don’t think).
But I can say that as I staggered down the path on the way back,
keeping to the tarmac to avoid going anywhere near tents
(I at least had that much sense just),
there was one BIG thought going through my head.
“OH DEAR, THIS IS NOT GOOD”
“YOU ARE GOING TO FEEL LIKE ABSOLUTE SHITE TOMORROW!”
AND I WAS RIGHT!