My plan for today was to take farm tracks and roads to Coupar Angus then try to walk along the course of an old railway to Mains of Belmont and Newtyle for a choice of pubs where I’d have something to eat and look for somewhere to camp.
I could tell I was getting near to the coast as I was walking through a mix of farmland and commuter villages. The terrain was mainly flat but I could see a few hills in the distance.
There was even a reminder of home……
I wasn’t sure if I’d be able to follow the track on my map through King’s Myre wood, so I was relieved to find that the track was indeed there, but it took me up to a private residence with no obvious way out through the other side. There was a locked gate which looked like it hadn’t been opened for years and no sign of the track continuing further on. There are two ways to deal with this sort of situation; either retreat a little and weigh up your options, or clamber over the gate and hack your way through the thick forest. I chose the latter approach.
I spent a while fighting my way through the trees and trying to figure out how on Earth a track could have become so overgrown. Then, through the trees to my left, I saw a long strip of daylight so headed towards it and found this beautiful woodland track.
I presume there had been an easy way out past the house, but I had failed to see it.
The roads got busier as I approached Coupar Angus and there were times when I had to step onto the verge (or into the hedge) to let the cars past. Approaching a busy junction, a car pulled over and a man got out. “You’re a Challenger!”, he said (or words to that effect). Wullie was a Challenge Legend, having completed his 10th crossing in 2012 and having a year off this year, and he was the first Challenger I’d seen since Bart on Day 1. After rummaging in the back of the car, Wullie gave me the leftovers from his packed lunch; a muffin, chocolate cake and some apple juice. Once we’d finished our natter I sat at the edge of a field and had a feast! (I suppose in some circles it would seem strange for complete strangers to give, and gratefully accept, leftover food at the side of the road but this seemed entirely in keeping with TGO Challenge tradition and I enjoyed my unexpected meal!)
In Coupar Angus I found a bakery / cafe which was just about to shut for the day, despite it still being quite early by my reckoning. Luckily, despite it not really being the meal I’d been looking forward to, they were happy to serve me a few cold pies and a bottle of pop. I sat on a bench and ate a Macaroni Cheese Pie then called Control.
The next challenge was to find the route of the old railway. I walked to where the map said it should start and I found that there was a new construction site with a very straight, wide, freshly seeded grassy path running in exactly the direction I wanted.
I walked along the road for a bit and I could clearly see where the railway used to be, but it went through fruit farms and impenetrable undergrowth so I gave it up as a bad job.
Now that I wasn’t tied to the course of the old railway, there was no real need to go to Mains of Belmont (and Pub 1) so I altered my route slightly and headed straight for Newtyle (and Pub 2). However, on reaching Newtyle I found an icecream shop so didn’t actually make it to the pub at all. Beer after icecream would be gross. Besides, I would have had to follow this big arrow and I couldn’t be bothered…..
The obvious place to camp was somewhere on Kinpurney Hill but when I got there I realised it was the sort of place which would be popular with dog walkers in the early morning (and possibly bad ‘uns in the evening) and I wondered if I’d be able to find anywhere out of sight. Also, half of the hill is covered in vicious gorse and I kept having to backtrack to try to avoid being ripped to shreds.
Looking up at the tower …..
…. I saw a group of lads on BMX bikes coming down the hill towards me. Oh, no. It was after 8pm, I’d walked over 30km and was tired, and now I was going to be harangued by a bunch of kids. However, I’d got the perspective all wrong as I’d looked up into the setting sun and this was actually a bunch of men on full-size mountain bikes. They briefly stopped for a chat and suggested that a nearby copse would be a reasonable campsite. One of them performed a very entertaining faceplant over the front of his handlebars. I did try not to laugh, honest.
My campsite would have been perfect if only there’d been some water nearby. Cursing myself for not having bought some at the icecream shop, I put the tent up then went searching for somewhere to fill my bottle. There had been water on the climb up the hill but it hadn’t looked suitable for drinking and there was nothing within a couple of hundred yards of my pitch. Thankfully, I didn’t need to cook so I just made myself a cup of tea from the water I’d been carrying and vowed to put the search for water at the top of my list in the morning.