After a pleasant nights stay and a wholesome Scottish fried breakfast we set off up hill from Inverbervie towards Aberdeen. Because of the new link road the NCN 1 meanders around a bit, but by coffee time we’d reached Stonehaven. The route then follows what Bry called ‘Slug Road’ – not sure if this is because it’s a bit of a slug (which it is) or because it means you go at the pace of a slug – which I did! Either way we eventually made it back to the coast and Aberdeen. A bit of sight-seeing at the mouth of the Dee produced lots of Eider, a small flock of female Goosander and an entertaining pod of Bottle-nosed Dolphin. The only other bird tick was a rather out-of-context Grasshopper Warbler near to our lunch stop. We’re staying in the Mercure Hotel – rather posh by our standards – and tonight eating at an award-winning Indian. I’ll let you know how that goes.
We set off from Bry’s with a respectably early start and cycled for an hour or so before our morning coffee stop. A relaxed start to this first day of the concluding section of the NCN 1, with cloudy but bright weather and a side wind for most of the day. A couple of k further on we joined the NCN 1 proper, a little to the north from where we’d started last time – only heading south. Quiet roads led us to Montrose and our lunchtime stop. We then crossed the picturesque North Esk river before visiting the National Nature Reserve at St Cyrus, where a family party of Peregrine provided a familiar sight. This was quickly followed by the most challenging climb of the day (‘possibly for the whole trip’ says Bry – we’ll see!) and a speedy descent, along the busy A92, into Johnshaven. Our chosen afternoon tea stop, The Hidden Tearoom, is unfortunately closed on Mondays 😦 so we pushed on to our final over-night destination, The Crown Hotel at Inverbervie. The last few miles being along a coastal track affording excellent views of a number of sea and shorebirds – bringing our overall trip list up to 87 species.
Yesterday, Neil and I took the opportunity of a training ride. In his case, honing his muscular physique after months of relentless and secret training – in my case draining the battery of any residual energy I’d stored up over the preceding weeks! We set off west in a brisk head-wind, had lunch in Kirriemuir and later in the afternoon enjoyed a spot of birding around Loch of Kinnordy – adding ten more species to the bird list. Years ago, when Jane and I were visiting Bry & Ann, on this same loch Jane found and I identified a White-winged Black Tern – pretty rare in Scotland then and still is. I pointed it out to the Warden, explaining the finer identification features, before she ‘laid claim’ to the record! It was ever thus. One thing I’m pretty sure of is that we won’t be seeing WWBT today!
The beginning of the end. We’re at the start of the final stage of our NCN (National Cycle Network) 1 sojourn from John O’Groats to Dover – completed in several stages. This last section is from Arbroath to the top end. Neil and I are on the train heading north to meet up with Bryan. In fact we’ve just passed through Berwick-on-Tweed, where our journey began back in 2017. We have a day to get the bikes and our kit sorted before we head off on Monday morning. 400+ miles later we should reach our final destination. The bird list for this trip is already one shy of the half-ton, with the combined trip list sitting at 126. We should add a few more before we finish!