May 31, 2012
Breakfast was at 8 am, then we got ourselves organized to go. Before leaving Aberlour we stopped at the Joseph Walker shop to buy some Walker’s shortbread, which is made at the factory right here in Aberlour. We decided to buy some in a tin commemorating the bicentenary of Aberlour, because the picture of the tin was of the River Spey.
The weather was the same as yesterday – Scotch mist but luckily the overnight rain showers had stopped. We walked down to the old Aberlour train station to photograph it, then headed along the disused railway bed which would be our track for the first part of the route. We actually travelled beside the River Spey, which was nice for a change, until we reached Craigellachie. We had been warned that there would be two steep climbs on the route today, and here we started the first of them.
The incline followed a small road through woods; it was not overly steep but steady and long. We made good time and soon came upon Arndilly House, a large estate on a bend in the road. Soon after this we turned onto a forestry track, still going up, which would take us over the shoulder of Ben Aigen. This area had a lot of mountain bike trails marked, but we saw no bikers today. We reached a picnic table at the highest point of our route, but the weather was a bit damp and it was unsheltered, so we decided to carry on down the track to find a lunch spot.
After a while we turned down a forest trail which was muddy in spots and which also went down quite steeply. After it levelled out, we found a dry spot and sat at the edge of the trail to have lunch. Our route after lunch involved a lot of walking on another small road, but we were pleased when we emerged from the forest and found we could see the North Sea as a faint grey line on the horizon. We finally reached Fochabers at about 4 pm and found our B&B.
After showers we headed out to dinner. But first we had to get more cash, to pay for bus fares tomorrow. We tried the machine at the Clydesdale Bank, which had a symbol matching the symbols on our card, but it turned us down. The other machine down the road had a hand-written “Not Working” sign taped to it. So we were out of luck for getting cash in Fochabers. Luckily we had enough money to pay the B&B, but that was all. So we went over to the Gordon Arms for dinner, and asked them if they would give us cash back on the credit card. They wouldn’t, which meant our only hope was a cash machine in Buckie tomorrow. At least we would be there when the bank was open, if there was really a problem with our card.