View from Oban Bothy

View from Oban Bothy

Thursday, 2 September 2021

NW Air Ambulance Fund Raiser: 30th October 2021

HopGoblin Ceilidh Band have always run our New Year's Eve and Summer Solstice ceilidhs as not-for-profit, ticket money goes to hire the hall and to pay for materials needed on the night, the band doesn't get paid.

We're charging a bit more for this one because it's a fund-raiser for NW Air Ambulance, an emergency service that relies totally on charitable donations - the government pays nothing.

The band have paid for the hire of New Mills Town Hall, again the band won't take a fee, so the maximum amount of cash can go to support North West Air Ambulance.

Tickets available soon.

Thanks - and we hope to see you on the night!


Sunday, 1 August 2021

A bit of the Bollin Valley Way 1st Aug 2021

A short walk was called for by the After Eights Walkers. The Bollin Valley Way was only down the road from JJ Towers, so at 8.30am I met up with Kay to walk a small section of the route. Kay, an enthusiastic member of the After Eights.

We parked up just outside Styal, which rather conveniently sits on the River Bollin.

It was raining, not heavily, but enough to need a waterproof jacket.

Trundling eastwards, through The Carrs (a rather nice public park), we passed the local Junior Park Run being set up – it’s a popular one.

 L > R: Amy, the 42kg Wilma (who was Wendy), Kay

Kay met a dog, she likes dogs. A lot. This is Wilma, a rescue dog, formerly known as Wendy. Like so many labradors, she was very playful, energetic, and extremely sociable. And this particular labrador, at 42kg, was rather overweight – a legacy of her previous owner. Amy, her new owner who lived very locally, had got to grips with the situation and was getting Wilma out for two long walks each day. Although looking at Wilma’s energy levels I’m not too sure who was taking who for a walk!

Our route was easy to follow, there were plenty of Bollin Valley Way signs to follow – getting lost really wasn’t an option.

By now the rain had stopped, the sun was showing itself, and it was warming up. Waterproofs were put away.

We left the River Bollin for a short while, cutting through the grounds of the rather posh Mottram Hall Hotel (on public footpaths), battled though a Triffid infested path, before rejoining the river to return to our cars.

Mancunian lovers of proper beer may recognise the name above the arch


We covered around 8½ miles of very pleasant flatness, and were back at our cars around 3 hours after setting off. Nice.

I’ll repeat the route sometime soon (avoiding the Triffids), but as a run rather than a walk.

Thanks to Kay for joining me – maybe more After Eights will join us next time.

The route can be found here… long as Viewranger still works.     

Friday, 9 July 2021

Two Kilts and 3 lungs across Scotland: Pt4

Day 10:

Away at 8am. The midges were biting – this was probably a revenge attack after I gave them such a good seeing-to the previous evening.

Photo for attention. Obv.

More non-existent paths followed, I found it difficult to make decent headway, making a navigational error at one point – although in my defence I was just trying to avoid the man-eating, fetid, swampy bogland. I failed.

For Dawn. And AlanR


For Judith

It was hot again. We hit on some tarmac and a section of the Cateran Trail and after a while we arrived at the much anticipated Wee Bear Cafe.

The cafe, in spite of what the website said, was closed. Hrmph.

Loch of Lintrathen



I really needed a breather so we stopped for an hour or so on a lovely grassy verge and raided our food & drink supplies.

Our water bottles were now empty, but a knock on a front door soon resulted in them being refilled by a nice lady.

Mike had guesstimated where we might camp, but when we got there we needed to nettle-bash our way for quite a while before we eventually found a suitably flat and remote spot – next to a river. And in woodland. And there wasn’t any wind. But there were loads of midges.

If there were any natives or horses around I’m sure I’d have scared the living daylights out of them: I was so hot, sweaty, sticky and (probably) smelly, I needed a good top-to-toe wash down outside of my tent. Thankfully I managed this BEFORE the midge onslaught.

Tea was home made & home dehydrated pasta bolognese, supplemented with the last of my cheese – delish!

Much of the day’s walking was on tarmac, very little in the way of traffic, but still tiring. I slept well.

Cuckoo count: 2

Day 11:

I woke to the sound of a deer barking …or it might have been someone snoring.

The tents were wet with morning dew. The sun was shining brightly but because we were pitched in woodland there was little chance of the tents drying out before we wanted to leave.

We planned on an earlier start so as to avoid the heat of the day

The pollen was playing merry hell with my eyes & nose – clouds of the stuff were released as we walked through the waist-high grass.

Much tarmac again today. We decided on a re-route, going via Kirriemiur where we arrived by 10am. On the face of it this was A Good Thing, but it was a Monday….and Kirriemuir is closed on Mondays.

We managed to find a bakery where Big Bridies were on offer, and if you’ve not had a Big Bridie, you should!

We enjoyed our Big Bridies in public view (it’s legal in Scotland) under the watchful eye of Peter Pan. 

The sun had vanished and it had cooled nicely making the rest of our march quite comfortable.

On to Forfar (Five) and the Caravan Club site where we would camp. I’m a member of the Caravan Club and so enjoy preferential pricing, but it was still bloody expensive for two one-man tents.

Skippy & Julie arrived soon after, we’d not seen them since Glasgow Queen Street. We arranged to meet up with them later for a nosh…..and maybe a beer. Or two.

A pleasant evening followed: much beer plus an excellent meal in the Forfar (Five) Castle Club. If in Forfar (Five) and looking to eat, you won’t go far wrong with this place.

10.30pm skies

A tweetful night followed – birdies sing all night. To make matters worse, Caravan Club sites have illuminated pillars all over the place – 24 hour lightness. I’m sure the overnight lightness kepts the birds awake.

Day 12:

Not a great deal to say about the day’s walking, more tarmac just about sums it up.

The enormous & delicious Scottish breakfast provided by Kenny’s Cafe must be mentioned. I ate too much. Far too much!

Earlier we’d stopped at a butty shop not far from the campsite to pick up butties for lunch. The nice lady in the shop gave us a large punnet of strawberries to help us on our way. Mike was delighted.

Letham, our next port of call, was as closed as Kirriemuir, but we DID find a bakery that supplied us with tea.

 Doors for Rob

On to Friockheim (which isn’t in Germany), the name means ‘'Heather Home' from the Gaelic 'fraoch' (heather) and the German 'heim' (home). It is pronounced 'free-come'. The birth of the village took place soon after 1814 when Thomas Gardyne of Middleton succeeded his brother as the laird of Friock and feued the land to Mr John Andson of Arbroath.’

Info from the Friockheim website.

 Another door for Rob

A pub presented itself, just in time. In we went, and although it didn’t serve food, we stayed…until quite late actually. Skippy and Julie joined us, and as there was a football match on the telly the pub filled up with supporters eager to watch it in the company of their mates.

It was a lovely surprise to see Marion, famous for lots of things – especially as renowned bacon butty maker at Tarfside.

It was a warm night, and another good night’s sleep followed.

Day 13 – the last day:

A not particularly early start on the final leg of our Challenge, and after a very splendid breakfast, we left Friockheim at around 10am, once again on tarmac.

The pub after the night before

The next pub...closed

 Yet another door for Rob

My feet were complaining, the hard surfaces weren’t doing them any favours at all. To be fair, my boots were well shot, I thought they’d last the Challenge but was mistaken – they’re now ready to be used as plant pots by my front door!


Minor roads took us to Inverkeilor where we intended to catch a bus to Montrose after we wet our boots in the North Sea.

4km later we arrived at Lunan, it was a VERY long 4km!

 The North last

Boots were dipped into the briny, then Mike decided a dip was in order. I rested on the beach, drinking water and eating cheese & oatcakes.

Photographs were taken, a shell from Oban was chucked into the sea – and that was it. Challenge completed, job done.

I ordered a taxi to whisk us off to Montrose to sign out, it cost more or less the same as the bus fare – a no-brainer!

It was wonderful to see the Challenge team of Ali, Alan, Mick, Gayle, and many others – far better than just speaking to them on the phone as we had done on our coast-to-coast crossing of Scotland.

We signed out, drank tea, ate bisuits, collected our certificates and Challenge T-shirts, and that was it – until TGOC2022.

Thanks to Sue & Ali who made TGOC2021 happen, without their drive and determination it couldn’t, wouldn’t have happened. Thanks to the phone-answerers too – Alan, Mick, and Gayle, who carried out the duties to perfection!

Special thanks to Mike, who made me laugh a lot and helped me to walk across Scotland.


Midnight in Montrose

 I may have had a few beers that evening.


My (very) Happy Face. Honest.



Note that some the the photos (in the groups of photos) appear out of order. That's because they ARE out of order....ask Blogger / Google, and address complaints to them.

NW Air Ambulance Fund Raiser: 30th October 2021

HopGoblin Ceilidh Band have always run our New Year's Eve and Summer Solstice ceilidhs as not-for-profit, ticket money goes to hire the ...