Day 66 & 67, Thursday 13th & Sat 15th April. Aberdeen to Balmedie.
It was a rough old night, the wind and the rain battered the tent so I tossed and turned all night struggling to get any sleep. By 7am I'd had enough so packed up and moved on. It was clearly the lack of sleep fogging my mind and the desire to get moving to warm up but I never considered my daily constitutional !!! until I'd been walking for 20 minutes and realised I was on the side of the road with high fences and no way to escape into the woods or the sand dunes !!! 😬 Imagine my sheer delighted when I rounded a corner to see a large industrial complex, with a gate guard, with his very own personal thunder box tucked in behind his guard hut...
My new best mate in the whole world, Barteck, a lovely Polish gent who very kindly allowed me use his throne for 10 minutes, what a diamond. We had a good chat about the work going on in the back ground, a brand new harbour which apparently will be able to dock large cruise ships. Barteck chuckled as he pointed out the sewage farm just over the road from the half built harbour, the stench is overwhelming when the wind is blowing in the wrong direction. That was a relief, I thought the stench was escaping from the badly fitting door to his personal cludgie... 😬 I bid my new mate farewell and headed off towards Aberdeen centre. Following my map, I left the main road through a nice big park and within 10 minutes I walked into Beirut !!! A huge estate which thankfully, being only 8am, was still in bed... I had no doubt that they buried their own dead in these parts and moving swiftly on, I made a mental note that when I do embark upon my first ever cruise, I'll be sure to check that a short stop in Aberdeen isn't on the Itinerary...
I am being facetious of course, I had been quite excited for some time to have a good look around Aberdeen, the architecture and particularly the stone masonry is well reputed. I wasn't disappointed, I sat in a coffee shop enjoying a brew while I searched online for a decent, cheap hotel for 2 nights. I found one on Crown Street which was handy, it was just over the road and it was also the street that the Masonic lodge was located on. The Jewel in the Crown hotel was lovely, a large room, the property had recently been completely overhauled so everything was brand new and only £35 per night, what a result.
I was supposed to be visiting a lodge that night but it had been cancelled, I was however offered a personal guided tour by a Past Provincial Grand Master and I have to say, I was completely blown away... what a building.
The home of The Lodge of Aberdeen No. 1 Ter, one of the oldest in Scotland dating back to 1670. The lodge, like all of these old lodges, had met in various places, often in pubs of cafes but this purpose built Masonic Centre, built just after 1911 is, in my opinion, one of the most impressive I've ever seen. A separate room for Craft & Chapter and the most exquisite Chapter crypt you will see anywhere.
As my guided tour was progressing through the building I noticed a number of guys preparing for a Royal Arch meeting so I just happened to mention that I was currently First Principle in my Chapter, The Round Table Chapter in Lincolnshire, following a few brief discussions, despite not being appropriately dressed, I was invited to join the meeting and witness a new member being exalted. A real treat indeed as the process for becoming a Royal Arch Mason in Scotland is quite different, there is another degree called the Excellent Masters Degree which must be taken first, which obviously I have not taken. No matter, I was made most welcome, I was privileged to retire with the candidate and join them in the crypt, a real eye opener I can tell you.
Another donation to the cause and off to bed knowing that I had a day off tomorrow so I could play at being tourist. With the rucksack safely stored in the hotel I had a good 6 hours to walk around the city taking in the architecture and the sights. Lots of statues in Aberdeen, I even found one dedicated to Mel Gibson, minus the blue face. Apparently, according to the plaque, he only used to paint his face blue on Saturdays, when Rangers were playing at home !! 🙄
And a fantastic statue to the Gordon Highlanders, referred to by Brother, Sir Winston Churchill as, 'the finest Regiment in the World', who would argue with him ?
I was due to be picked up sometime in the afternoon to drive north to a tiny place, not even a village, somewhere between Peterhead and Fraserburgh for a meeting. Sure enough, I got the call from Norman who picked me up, gave me a guided tour up the coast I was soon to be walking and treated me to dinner before we arrived, quite literally in the middle of knowhere, where we found the lodge and a very old Kirk. The Lodge Inversaintcairn No. 1278 were working a Third Degree Ceremony and they had a full house to enjoy the ceremony. I will say no more, if you know about Scottish Raising Ceremonies then you know, this one was expertly worked and I'm sure that the candidate will remember it for the rest of his life. The meeting was followed by a few beers and it was a long drive back to Aberdeen. Cheers Norman, you put in a long day to look after me and I'm very grateful mate. 😉🤝
I left Aberdeen past a large holiday complex with a massive fun fair, another surprise for me as I wouldn't have considered Aberdeen a holiday resort but it was, and has been for over 100 years.
I was soon out onto the coast and heading north, huge open beaches to myself, lots of time to get lost in my own thoughts. By about 9pm I'd had enough, just over 17 miles walked and the path I was on came to a golf course. Over the dunes so nice and quite away from the sea and the wind and the grass was so beautifully trimmed, it would have been a crime not to pitch up for the night, I was shattered...