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  • Chris Jones

Day 68. Sunday 16th April. Balmedie to Cruden Bay.

Obviously, I didn't pitch my tent on the green on Mr Trumps golf course, that would have disrespectful to the ground keepers. The greens were immaculate and they would rightly have been very upset if I'd spiked my tent into the beautifully manicured grass, instead I pitched up on the Tee and just lifted the tent onto the green for the video clip... very childish I know !!! I've been told many times, before and after my stay that there were roaming guards on the course but I never saw any, I did strip out early though and was on my way walking up through the course by 7am.

At the northern end of the course I cut through the dunes and got down onto the beach. After a steady couple of hours plod up the beach, I arrived at the mouth of the river Ythan at Newburgh so had to turn inland to find a bridge to get over the water. I had my music playing in my ears but as I was walking I kept hearing these strange noises, I couldn't work out what it was until I stopped, turned off my music and waited for the noise to happen again. I was amazed when I noticed what had been causing the noises, on the other side of the river was a huge colony of seals basking in the early morning sun. I stood for a while to take it all in and as I stood watching them, individual seals slipped into the water and came across to see me, an amazing experience as they were following me in the water as I continued to walk up the rivers edge.

Strange creatures seals, they look so awkward when on the land, almost like they are slobbing about trying to move around but in the water of course, they move so gracefully and effortlessly. I've heard lots of winging from people as I walk round, seals are protected so can go on breeding in abundance with no real threat and as they get braver they are seen travelling up the rivers to catch their fish. Are they a threat to the numbers of fish in our seas and rivers or are we the real threat, the way we trawl and dredge the seas, I don't know but the seals are definitely not very popular.

I walked up into Newburgh, being Sunday morning I wanted to see if there was a nice little church to sit in for a bit but first, a cafe, I was Hank !!! The Trellis cafe wasn't open until 9.30 but Lorna brought me out a coffee while I waited the 20 minutes until opening time, the wife of a Freemason in Aberdeen, I was treated to a lovely breakfast with more coffee, cheers Lorna, great food and a lovely place you've created there. I had to hang around for an hour but I did find a lovely little church to visit, Holyrood Chapel, sadly, another little church about to be sold off by the Church of Scotland.

Further up the coast at Collieston, I met a lovely couple climbing down the cliff, they'd been walking their dog and were just getting back to their car to drive back to Cruden Bay, where I was heading. I politely declined their offer of a lift but I did accept their very kind offer of a bed when I was to return Cruden Bay on Thursday night. The walk to Cruden was beautiful but brutal, probably the toughest stretch so far.

I'd walked 18 miles when I eventually stumbled into Cruden Bay, I was hanging !!! I'd been offered a bed by another one of the Widows Sons, Masonic Bikers who lived up in Peterhead but was going to pick me up. Just for ease, so Kev could find me I thought it best to wait in the first pub I found... the first pint never touched the sides.... 🥵 a quick stop at the Lodge in Peterhead where a welcoming committee were there to meet me and show me around.

Visit done and back to Kevs for Fish 'n' chips and a few pints before I crashed on the sofa bed in Kevs very impressive bar. Note to self, 'do I need my own bar' ?? Possibly not the daftest idea I've ever had... I'll ask the boss.. 🫣

Cheers Kev, fed watered and a hot shower, I slept like a log and cheers for the lift back down to Aberdeen to catch the train. Sadly, I was having to nip back to Lincolnshire for a funeral. John Brett, an old friend, a former Sapper who had also worked in my school for many years as an instructor had sadly passed away and I couldn't not travel back for his funeral. It also meant I could visit my own mother Lodge and watch Aaron being Initiated, it was amazing being present in my own lodge with no work to do, just sit back and enjoy the ceremony. I was very proud of the team, they performed an excellent Initiation for Aaron.

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