Posted by: natsevs | November 1, 2010

Portessie to Rattray Head

I had possibly the worst night of the walk camping in Portessie, probably worse than waking up in a puddle. I woke at half 2 to gales and hammering rain with the side of my tent tapping against my head as the whole thing bent and shook in the wind. The rain let off just to come back worse 2 seconds later, over and over again. Around 4, I went out to check the pegs were all in and secure and froze, then got back into the tent and secured the ropes that are supposed to help keep the tent sturdy.
Huddled in a ball in the centre of the tent I got minimal sleep until 6am when I finally gave in. The whole tent was shaking and the peg ropes had all loosened adding to the instability. I packed my bag whilst the tent walls battered me then got out to put the tent down. I had to go on a search for the tent bag, finding it under a static caravan, then I rolled up the tent roughly and ran with all my gear to the laundry. In there, out of the wind, I packed away the tent and did a better job of organising my bag before heading out into the fray once more at half 8 to set off.
I could barely see through the rain being blown straight at my face. Quite painfully actually. I got onto the path and quite often stopped to just stand with my back to the assault for a brief respite. When I got to a golf course I hid in a bunker and came to the decision that I would most definitely be staying indoors that night.
The path came to a town which I made slow progress through the continued out on an old railway turned cyleway. That route was briefly interrupted by a trip through Portnackie. The rain started to let off slightly but the wind remained as strong as ever. The railway went right to Cullen then there was regular path out along the front, then along beaches with intermittent climbs over to the next bay.
The path then switched to go up on top of the cliff where there is a viewpoint of Findlater Castle. When I reached Sandend the rain had stopped so I had a sit on the steps before going down into the village. After walking on a bit, having lunch and walking almost out the village I realised my phone was missing. I had left it at the top of the steps and was lucky to find it still there when I walked back. I didn’t appreciate the detour though.
Accommodation searches had been fruitless so I wasn’t feeling too happy. There was a mixture of road and cycle path from Sandend, through Portsoy to Whitehills where I got onto a path towards Banff. I found a b&b with a double room available but even single occupancy price, it was a bit dear so I wasn’t keen. Not until I got to the campsite where the only visible tent had only poles left of it and the wind was still going. I rang back and took the room and was very glad to spend a night with stationary walls

My phone had decided to set an alarm for midnight. I have no idea why and I wasn’t best pleased. Otherwise though, I slept well and was down for breakfast at half 8. It was pretty big breakfast and I had to have a 10minute lie down when I got back to the room whilst I digested it a bit. I was setting off at 10 after paying, with £10 knocked off to give to the Mammal Society.
The day was much better weather wise so I was hopeful things might be improving as I headed along the road to Macduff. There was more road out of there and as I was making my way towards Gardenstown I realised I still had the key to the B&B room in my pocket. Luckily when I rang the woman was ok about it and said I could post it back. There was a steep valley to go into and back out of before turning off to Gardenstown where I was able to get an envelope and post the key back.
I was staying on the roads around the peninsular there and round to Pennan getting a little too warm in my coat but every time I stopped the wind reminded me why I was wearing it. The view going down to Pennan was quite impressive but unfortunately I then had a really steep climb back out. Steep enough to finally take my coat off. Once at the top a track took me past a few farms to a small road out past Dundary castle and Egypt, according to my map.
Finally I got to Rosehearty which was a strange place as it seems quite new but the houses have been made to look old. The campsite wasn’t fenced in at all and was right next to a park, plus it was empty and there wasn’t a warden on site so I opted to walk on and find a wild camping spot rather than pay for something even less secure. There was no gap between the beach and the road I was walking on but as I got beyond where the golf course ran on the other side there were grassy dunes that I could stop in. I stopped in the field among the dunes and was hidden from the road but not completely out of view from the adjacent field where the farmer was driving about. The sunset was a good one that evening though.

I’m pretty sure the farmer saw me the night before because in the morning I heard a gate go and was soon hearing the sound of hooves and loud sniffing nearby. Not long after, there were shadows across the tent that looked very much like cows. I popped my head out and saw a whole heard surrounding my tent which were obviously very curious. After scaring them off a few times as I packed away my bag and tent they got bored and left me alone. The sky was really clear again so it was quite chilly to start with but I soon warmed up as I got back onto the road over to Fraserurgh. My blister plasters had come off the previous evening and they were no longer hurting so I was hopeful that that was the end of those problems.
I made my way through Fraserburgh in the sunshine and round to the harbour. Going along the high street I was looking for a supermarket but there wasn’t one then on my way out, a few turned up over the road so I had to jump a fence and go over to get some food for the next day or so. Once back on track a road took me along behind the dunes with a golf course either side of me. The road took me over a river then I went onto a farm track that used to be a railway taking me past some massive farm buildings before reaching Inverallochy where I had my lunch sitting on a park bench. I went through the town to the golf course on the other side which had a path along the shoreline that dropped onto the beach after a while. I rounded a corner  and got back up to a path that took me along the top and behind the dunes.
The dune path took me to bridges over a river then made my way out over the dunes, which had become very wide apparently. I hit a flat area that I followed for a while before going over a second set of dunes and onto the deserted beach. The last bit of the day along here was a really nice walk in the sunshine. It was marred slightly by the noise of a couple of quad bikes destroying the dunes to my right. Soon the lighthouse I was heading to started to appear. It is out at sea on a rock and is well worth seeing. The lighthouse cottages are inland behind the dunes, so once I had got to the point of Rattray head, I came in on a track to the cottages which are now a B&B and hostel. I was staying in the hostel and was the only person there that evening so had a pretty relaxed evening teaching myself to make origami dogs amongst other things, in what is quite a cool place. The owner was a nice bloke too.


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