Photo: Just one of the views from the former railroad grade that has now turned into a hiking and biking trail. It is an easy stroll between the two small river towns of Ballater and Aboyne.
It isn't the most exciting of walks you can do but the path is not a bad one and the scenery, what there is of it, isn't bad. Having the river for company a lot of the way helps out a lot. Nicolas is a talker and I found that we were able to chat about a fair bit quite easily. Now and then Jeroen would chime in but he was far less involved in the conversation perhaps because his english isn't as strong as Nicolas' but he could also be shy. We strolled down the former railroad track pausing a couple times for breaks and in fairly short order we found ourselves approaching the flooded areas of the path that are near Aboyne. We found our way to the outfitters where my companions wanted to check out some of the Paramo clothing for themselves and family members. I also took a good long look at some of the clothing as I had been hearing good things about items like the Qito rain jacket for a long time. The outfitters knew all about the Challenge and as we browsed they fed us tea. I would not be surprised if other Challengers pass through here and end up spending some money like all of us would end up doing. By the time we walked out of the store my Belgium companions had both purchased Paramo clothing and I was on the fence and tethering towards buying a Qito jacket it was mid-afternoon. We worked our way over to the Boat Inn which is a serious hotel and got ourselves rooms. Though the rooms are on the pricy side, especially for one person, they are well appointed coming with a kitchenette. I know other Challengers camped out not far from the hotel and I am also aware of a few Challengers who stayed in other guest houses in the area. I think we were the only ones though at the Boat Inn.
After a relaxing shower and a fine meal at the restaurant and a few congenial drinks shared with my new Belgium hiking buddies we went off to our respective rooms for a fairly early night's bedtime as the rains continued to come down in fits and starts.
Location: Aboyne (The Boat Inn)
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