My feet are screaming. And I’ve not put any weight on them yet – I’m still in bed. This does not bode well. Luckily the forecast is good for the rest of the trip and I can just amble at whatever pace is comfortable rather than be lured into pushing harder to get through nasty weather.
Breakfast at the B&B is incredible. There’s cereal and fruit and cooked stuff as you’d expect, but then there’s cold meats, cheese, pastries, biscuits, cake, yoghurts, tea AND coffee. This is all for me. And all for £7. My hosts are Italian and working on the principle that they therefore probably know how to make coffee, I try some – the first in over a year. It’s fine. Biscuits are stashed in a napkin, and anything else I think I can safely carry is squirreled away for today’s lunch. I pay the bill – now up to £51 for bed, breakfast, 3 course evening meal and beer. This could be the best £51 I’ve spent all fortnight. It’s still an odd place though.
A rabbit greets me as I leave the breakfast room to pick up my pack and make my exit. This rabbit is clutched in the jobs of the family dog and doesn’t look too happy. Admittedly, this is largely because it is dead. The track shows evidence of scattered leporine body parts all along it.
The track takes me past a ruined building and into farmers’ fields. I drop down to the Quharrity Burn trying to find the path marked on the map across the stream and onto the road. I fail. The place is a fortress of barbed wire and doesn’t reflect the map that well (according to some people, this means I should probably call Mountain Rescue for advice). I stick with the burn for another kilometre and find an easy way across and through an open field to the road. Piece of cake.
Ahead of me a deer leaps a fence and with every field of livestock I pass, cows follow me. Bizarrely horses shy away. As do the bunnies – but then I’m probably carrying the stench of death as far as they’re concerned. Roads bring me to Prosen Bridge and nearby is a nice open wood with a convenient fallen tree for a rest. A sequence of left-right-left-right turns takes me through little country lanes to the B957. I cross this and all of a sudden the traffic increases. It’s too much, I have to stop. A side lane provides respite from the lorries and the chance for a brew up. Sods law that a lane with only a couple of buildings down it yields 2 occasions when I have to suddenly scurry to the edge to avoid becoming part of the track surface.
I eventually make it into Forfar and roll into Tescos for provisions. Beer goes in the shopping bag, along with tomorrow’s lunch. Two giant bags of Mackies ridge cut crisps go in too – I’ve become a bit addicted to these. Most importantly, a birthday card for Mrs Hillplodder which I write leaning on Postman Pat’s van outside. I buy so much shopping that it won’t all go in the pack, and it’s left swinging from my trekking pole as I lurch through Forfar. I make my final call to Challenge Control, then set about the small matter of the walk to the campsite. This is a long plod and I’m glad to get there. It’s even nicer to see a fellow Challenger in the shape of Ian Wood. I pitch nearby, mind you we seem to be the only tents on the whole site anyway.
Foresterseat has to have the best ablutions block of any campsite I’ve ever been to (with the possible exception of Fisherground in Eskdale). It’s spotless, it’s well organised, the showers have places to hang your stuff without it getting wet. I can thoroughly recommend it. I cook my penultimate dehydrated meal, lighten my load by drinking one of the beers and as the rain comes, retire to my tent, saying goodbyes to Ian as he’s off early tomorrow in his quest for Arbroath.