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Bouncing and bumping to Castle Roy

6 days to the race, but first a walk to Castle Roy. Walking time. Let’s call it active rest for my legs. Rest they can use, I feel, when we walk out of Nethy Bridge this late morning and into the Abernethy National Nature Reserve.

On our way to Castle RoyThe path is rough. Tree Trunks everywhere. Rocks. Little bumps. Pretty normal for a trail through a forest, but today it looks like I am noticing them more. As if they are sticking out more.

But isn’t this what I like? Away from the tarmac, on an uneven surface? Having to focus on every step you take, not to trip. Yet, it just doesn’t feel good today. It doesn’t feel right. And I am not even running. I am just walking. It’s as if the bounce in my step is gone. Instead of running over this uneven surface, I am banging against every root, every rock.

Short walk

Little houses for elves near Nethy BridgeThe reason? My legs. A week of trail running in Scotland and too little yoga has made my muscles tired, hard. I am used to running, I am not used to running uphill. And although there is nothing I would rather do, my legs are asking me to take a rest. That’s why today’s walk is a relatively short one. A little less than 10 kilometers.

It’s the second walk we’re doing in the Cairngorms national park. Yesterday afternoon we visited the Scotland Loch Garten Nature reserve and had a small walk on the bank of Loch Garten and Loch Mallachie.

This morning we’re on our way to Castle Roy, starting out in Nethy Bridge. A start that makes us smile, because in and under lots of trees are tiny wooden houses for fairies. Some even with stairs up to them. Next to the houses are painted stones with little messages, like love, stay safe, have fun.

Making Sara cry

Murdo, a big Highlander Cow at Castle RoyAfter half an hour we reach Roy Castle, but it’s not the old stone wall that attracts our attention, it’s what stands next to it. Or rather who: Murdo, a big Highland cow, who is so cute, he makes Sara cry. The feelings are probably not mutual, because Murdo only raises his head for a moment, before he slings his big white tongue around another juicy bit of grass.

After sweet talking to him for a couple of minutes, we walk into the castle. It isn’t much more than a rectangular wall, enclosing a courtyard measuring roughly 25 meters by 15 with an archway in the middle of the north-eastern wall as entrance, and a little tower in the corner. Then again, the base of the castle is estimated to date back to the late 12th or early 13th century, so no wonder there is not much left of it.

Highland cow

We say goodbye to Murdo, the first Heilan’ Coowe see on this trip, and make our way back through the forest. Back to the Highland Shepherd Huts in Nethy Bridge we’re staying in. There we open our guidebook in search of a new walk for tomorrow.

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A day of walking

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