Over the hill

I have now visited all but one of the places that I have lived in the UK, the last is relatively distant on the north end of Orkney mainland and it will take all week to get there. The weather forecast today was dire (including a yellow warning for excessive rain and thunderstorms) so my analysis of the weather charts early this morning indicated that I should set off at around 1030 to minimise risk of hitting torrents of rain. At around 0915, I noticed that it had stopped raining (it was not supposed to do that) and a quick recheck of the weather maps showed the forecast had changed and it would be a good idea to set off immediately. So I did. As it happened, there was light rain/drizzle/mist for much of the way, so I got wet, but no miserably so. The route was over the hills to the Don Valley and then follow the Don until the steep hill over the pass at the Lecht (the highest permanently inhabited building in Britain) and then down to Tomintoul.

The route today; the section between 35 and 65 km follows the River Don closely, showing its relatively even but rapid descent towards the North Sea. The gradients up to the Lecht from Cockbridge are extreme!
My first stop was to add Osprey to my trip list – on a dry clear day you would easily se the osprey on its nest (it is there), but it was neither dry nor clear!
A Donside lane
First crossing of the Don
Some bridges across the Don are more picturesque than others – in this case it is at Candacraig, the country house that used to be owned by the great Billy Connolly
Last look at the Don before turning right and heading over the Lecht
The views were, err, limited; on a clear day you can see miles from here. It wasn’t.
A photo for those whose memory lanes are a bit foggy

I was really hoping to bring you some stunning Scottish scenery pictures today, but no luck. I was also hoping to add mountain hare, red deer and possibly ring ousel to my trip list – no luck either. But the Hotel Square in Tomintoul excelled by noticing me arriving outside and coming out to welcome me and offer me an immediate cup of tea. All hospitality should be like that! I notice also from my window a cycle holiday support bus from a well-known company and I deduce from their website that participants are on a 22 day, 1600 km Lands End to John O’Groats run costing £3,100 (they pay for their own suppers and some lunches in addition), with all their luggage being transported in the bus. A different way from myself, but no doubt they are having fun!

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