By Edzell it was lunchtime and I stopped at the Tuck Inn for a bite to eat. It was quiet inside but soon to get busy as the throng from Tarfside arrived. I left with an ice-cream to lick along the way and crossed over the river. Then sailed past the turn-off to Arnhall farm just to make the long straight to North Water Bridge even longer. It was yet another fine day and I sat in the sun at North Water bridge for a bit. Then after miles of road walking I followed the track from Hillside into Montrose then through the town centre and out to the beach at Montrose Bay. I took my shoes and socks off and paddled my hot feet in the sea.
Montose Beach and Scurdie Ness Lighthouse.
All that was left was to check-in at Challenge Control in the Park Hotel. The hotel let me camp outside in their garden which was great news. The warm welcome when you get to Challenge Control is brilliant and really makes the end of the trip special. I put my tent up for the last time and walked into town for a curry. The Indian restaurant looks a bit Fawlty Towers as it has several letters missing from the sign outside. Inside I found Rob and Peter and joined them for dinner. The food was really good and afterwards I contentedly wandered back to the glampsite at the hotel.
The Park Hotel, Montrose.
Thursday May 24th. Montrose.
The next day passed very easily in Montrose and hanging out at the hotel. I went to the dinner which had warm and funny speeches and people received their awards for making ten or even twenty crossings. It was almost 2 am when I got back to my tent and the Challenge was over for another year.
Friday May 25th. Montrose - Newtonmore.
I travelled back by train to Newtonmore sharing part of the trip with Mike who was heading to Grantown on Spey. At Perth station I had a final wildlife experience as one of the station workers shooed a family of ducks out of the station and into the garden next door.
Duck walk, Perth Station.
Back at the platform I spoke to another challenger who I recognized from the blue T-shirt that we all received at the end. She told me that they she didn't want to go home, just to keep on walking and I think that sums up the Challenge for most of us (though a few days off first would be good ...).