It got quite chilly in the night but I slept well and wasn’t disturbed in my semi-wild pitch.
Walking mainly on minor roads, I took advantage of any grassy bits on the well-signed Forfar Footpath Network.
I hoped that there would be some sort of shop at Lunanhead but there wasn’t. I should have already confirmed the fate of the Post Office, which had closed down over 10 years ago, but I was hopeful that there would be something – but there wasn’t. I was feeling tired; not just physically but mentally. I was due to finish tomorrow and I think I was starting to feel a little anxious and slightly sad that the walk was coming to an end. I sat on a bench near the Village Hall eating the odd bits of food I still had left in my pack and I called Challenge Control to confirm I’d see them tomorrow.
A few miles further along the road I glanced over my shoulder and saw the familiar sight of a Challenger marching along behind me. Drat it! I’d made it all this way from Oban without bumping into a single Challenger and now, on my penultimate day, one was about to catch up with me. What if it was one of the weird ones? You know, the ones who walk 360 degrees around you weighing up every single piece of clothing and kit, then tell you how theirs is better for the next 3 miles? (This has happened to me). Oh, hang on….. it’s Markus. Phew! Panic over.
I’ve bumped into Markus most years, the last time being in 2015 when he wasn’t even doing the Challenge. He was planning to finish tonight so had a HUGE day by my standards but he reckoned he could do it. We walked together for the next 5 miles chatting about Challenge stuff, looking for ways to take advantage of the dismantled railway [we couldn’t] and taking photos of the tidy church in Guthrie.
At Friockheim we went into the first pub we came to; the Railway. There was no Real Ale and no meals, either, but she said she’d do us a bowl of chips. Due to a slight mix-up about just how hungry we were, this bowl of chips turned out to be a cauldron. It was enormous. Markus only wanted a few so I did my best, on my own, to eat enough chips to feed the whole town for a week.
This was obviously a “local” pub with a handful of stalwarts enjoying their mid-afternoon session. Sitting at the bar we joined in the conversation and I did my best to share out my chips. There was an older chap with a very strong accent and I did wonder how much my Austrian friend could understand…but it turned out he was doing better than me! There’s another pub in Friockheim, the Star Inn, but it was clear from the locals that we’d chosen the right one. As the Star was closed I didn’t get the chance to compare them.
With another few hours walking ahead of him, Markus set off for the coast whilst I had another beer and put my phone on charge (see, I’m learning!) then nipped to the Coop for some food and drinking water.
I had a pitch planned in some woodland near the crematorium and it was a good spot – although, in the morning when I looked back from the road, I reckon I could probably have been seen if anyone had bothered to look.
As I fell asleep, with the strong wind buffeting my tent, I could now allow myself the belief that I was on the verge of completing my tenth TGO Challenge.
Today’s beer: Tennant’s Caledonia Best (Keg). Cold and wet. Not as bad as I expected.