So where was I? Ok yeah, up really late last night and then up in time for our 8 am group breakfast. We never really had a group breakfast yet. We were staying in two different houses and our house had pretty much all the food but everybody was on slightly different schedules and some people (don't understand this one, how can one live?) don't seem to eat breakfast. But 8 am came. And went. A few more people trickle in. Amber and Ellie show up in their bathrobes and slippers. I wasn't there for this, but I suspect that their possession of such objects had something to do with a hotel in Aberdeen.
Getting ready for group picture.
Then much closer to 9 am than 8 am, Kevin shows up with most of the rest of the CRRU staff. At least in time to get those who were catching a bus in Banff off. Hmm, no promised breakfast then. Must make note to add that to my strongly worded letter to Earthwatch. But to be fair, they were doing exactly the same things that were running the rest of us ragged, as well as organizing everything and doing a lot of their normal jobs, so ok I guess I can let this one slide then.
But they need to go. We line up for a group photo, and then we say good bye to Simona, Duncan, and Richard as they are packed into the cruiser and disappear down the street. Sad, everybody really is going home. The rest of us have slightly different travel plans. I had in my mind that I would try to leave around 10 or so. I had what I thought would be about 35 miles to Peterhead that day. I knew the first part of it was pretty hilly and I was already pretty exhausted from not sleeping for many days.
The group and CRRU staff.
Ellie, Amber, and Soo were staying over that evening, so they went to do a bit of reorganization to move into the other house. I had some packing to do and things to get ready. I did do some packing the night before. Ok, maybe I just did what I should have done days ago. The first day, I sort of just ended up tipping my two bags onto the floor and bed and spent the next week just kind of rummaging around those piles. But now I had to figure out how to get everything back in there again because piles like that always expand to be 10% larger somehow than they were originally. Might have to bunji some shoes to my rack to save a bit of room in the bag.
Bike packed and ready to go.
All packed then, I wheel my bike over to the office and park it there. I'll go check my email quickly and see where everybody is at. Surely everybody will be back soon from taking people to the bus and I can say my good byes and head off. I also wander down to the bakery to pick up another pie and a turnover and a few other things to hold me for my ride. Everything looks really nice.
Misty morning in Gardenstown.
Macaroni and cheese pie.
By the time I get back, nobody is in the office, so they must have all headed back to #2 then. I leave my bike there and see who is over there. Still nobody back yet and everybody else is deep in conversation around the kitchen table. I sit down, join in and think, I really should go soon. Eventually they are all back. Soo starts some breakfast and I think, ok, I haven't eaten yet, I'll stay for that. And chat and it is getting past noon now. Might be a good time to go, but I am enjoying it and don't really want to go and don't want to make a big show out of leaving and feeling a bit lazy. But it is a ways to go today.
Eventually Amber gets everybody moving, gotta say good bye to Kerry. We head out to the patio, and linger out there, and the movement stalls. I do kind of hate saying good bye and am tempted a few times to just sneak off to head off all the sadness and the rest of that. But Amber gets everybody moving again and we head over to the office for me to pick up my bike and head off. Good byes then, sad to leave. Yeah Ellie, I'll make sure we seriously look at the Philippines in our travels around the world. And then I'm on the bike and head off.
No time to be sad though, the hill makes it easy to come to Gardenstown but really difficult to leave. A week of not riding and the weight of all the things I packed probably makes it harder. I do make it all the way, although I have to put my foot down for a second where I lose my balance at Dale's stall corner. That part is really super steep. Once I'm up the hill and out of Gardenstown, I don't really have a planned route. I just intended to follow the coast a bit, probably duck off onto the smaller roads if traffic gets too ugly and just see where I end up.
At the top of the hill outside Gardenstown.
Hill before Pennan.
Pennan is just over the next hill. It is at the bottom of a steep hill, much like Gardenstown. From a distance, it doesn't seem as exciting and special as Gardenstown. I almost skip it, having seen it from the sea a few times and can see a bit of it from above. But I really did like Local Hero and it does seem a bit silly to come this close and not go see it. I compromise and leave my bike towards the top of the hill. It probably weighs about as much as I do now, so I will have about half the weight to carry back up the hill. In retrospect, it wasn't all that exciting, but oh well, I did it. You know, even the phone booth isn't original. It was brought and taken away by the film crew and one was only officially put there due to popular demand later on. But still, I'll have to watch the film again soon. I asked at the B&B that night, the guy had a whole shelf of DVDs. He said he used to have Local Hero but thought it was boring and sold it on EBay. I guess there is no accounting for taste then.
The famous Pennan phone booth.
It was hard work going over the rest of the hills to Fraserburgh. Most of the way was very up and down, lots of 10-20% grades. It was awfully pretty though. I did discover later why it was so much harder than I thought it should be, the next day when I discovered the crack in my rear rim and how it made the wheel rub against the mud guard. Might have lost about 10-20% of my energy on that one.
Lots of hills.
I pass through Rosehearty. It is funny going through somewhere that you have only previously seen from the sea and coming into the harbor. Well, a lot of this coast is like that, we hadn't been this way on land but we did cover all of it the day before in the boat. In Fraserburgh, I start thinking about lunch. I had a few snacks on the way and a late breakfast, but it is getting on like 3 now and I could really use something. The lighthouse museum looks interesting, so I divert over that way. I notice a cafe through their back window and that seems perfect. I've seen quite a few lighthouses, especially the ones on the Great Lakes, and I do have sort of a thing for lighthouses. It seems worth a little bit of time and five pounds.
Outside of Rosehearty.
Fog horn at Fraserburgh.
New lighthouse and old lighthouse at Fraserburgh.
I have a few minutes to look around before my tour starts. A personal tour at that, since I'm the only one there at the time. The tour takes you outside past the new lighthouse and through the old one that was finally decommissioned just a few years before. It is interesting to see, although the pressure of being the only person the guy has to talk to makes it slightly unnerving. And I didn't have a chance to look through the museum first so he has to go over a lot of the things that I should have already seen. I think I frustrated him a little bit. But I paid my five pounds, I want the works. We chat a little too, why I'm there, what I've been doing. I tell him I was at the Cetacean Research place that week. Oh, there were five minkes in the bay this morning. Wow, yeah, we spent a few hours yesterday following four of them around.
But back in the museum, the optics are pretty cool. Amazing that a 200 watt bulb, a room lamp really, can be focused with all that glass to shine for 10-20 miles. They are all really pretty too. In the cafe, they are not serving much but a pot of tea and a bit of beans on toast does me fine. Time to get on my way again.
Inside lighthouse museum.
View of Fraserburgh from the old lighthouse.
About where we saw minke whales yesterday.
Now swimming, I do regret a little bit not going that day I went to Troop Head instead. But I had to do it for the gannets. I intended to find a nice place to swim either today or tomorrow. Today was probably better because I knew I would be a bit rushed tomorrow and I wasn't on as nice coastlines tomorrow. Or at least the way the roads go, it was harder to get to them without going way out of the way. But I was feeling a bit run down today, it was late, a little cold, and blah blah blah. So, I think, ok, I'll just go see the beach at Fraserburgh Bay and see what it looks like. If there are other people swimming, ok, I'll do it then.
So what happens, just a few minutes before I get there, the sun starts coming out and it warms up a bit. I get to the beach and it looks amazing. There are grassy dunes behind and a lovely sandy beach all the way around the bay. Sigh, I guess I can't wuss out now. I stash the bike in a dune, get all the stuff out and change and head down to the beach. Ok, it wasn't my longest swim ever, but I did it and I'm glad I did and now I can concentrate on getting to Peterhead. What to do with all the sandy stuff though, my sandals are covered. I guess tie them to the back and hope a lot of that drops off.
Beach at Fraserburgh Bay.
Going for a swim.
But it is rather late now, I need to make time. I called the B&B guy and said I might be there by 6 or 7, which might be optimistic at the pace I've been going today. I can stick to the country roads through a lot of the rest of it. At one point, a bike commuter passes me. Yeah, that's pretty cool, the guy sped by and said he was going to work. At Crimond, there really isn't a reasonable way to avoid the A90, so I speed along that until there are some quieter roads I can get to instead.
Then something goes terribly wrong. At St Fergus, I was only a few miles away from Peterhead but I must have taken a wrong turn and was getting a bit lazy about looking at the map. So when I stumble across the Formartine and Buchan Way rail track and it says it is six miles on that to Peterhead, I feel a bit deflated. Damn, I lost about five miles there somewhere. But at least it is straight, well marked and I can't go wrong after that. But six miles on a gravel road when you are tired is a little miserable. And the weather is a bit funny too. It seems to be just on the edge of rain, or at least a light sprinkle, and everything is really foggy and weird looking. I want to hurry to not get caught in the rain but it isn't easy going fast on gravel.
On country roads.
Result of my wrong turn, 6 more miles to go.
Back on the rail track through the mist.
Finally, I make it to Peterhead and after a few false starts, I find the B&B. I had marked it and could figure out how to get there from the way I intended, but since I was coming from another direction, I was all turned around then. The guy seemed nice enough. I was 30 minutes later than my longest estimate but he was there and was fine with me bringing the bike and everything into the room. It was a pretty big room, so there was lots of room.
I asked about dinner, if there was a good place to eat. He said, well, not really. It isn't that type of town. There is a Chinese takeaway next door and there are lots of other Chinese takeaways in town, or there is a hotel where you can pay 20 quid and leave hungry. Nothing seemed that appealing then but I did have enough leftover bakery stuff from this morning that I made it through.
B&B in Peterhead.
Still I went for an exploratory walk of Peterhead. I didn't really think there would be that much there. Considering Aberdeen and it being much bigger and there wasn't much there, well Peterhead had even less going for it. It was all foggy and seemed really bleak and walking around it for an hour or so, I didn't really find anything interesting to look at. But been there, seen it, can check it off my list now. The room has a tv in it and I zone out watching Team America and fall asleep at the end. Tired after a day that was supposed to be 35 miles but was more like 43. And my mud guard was rubbing all the way.