Thursday, 23 May 2013

The FBW.

The Annandale Way adventure a couple of weeks back whetted my appetite for exploring more long distance paths, partly out of curiosity and partly for research purposes for future Mules adventures. A few days before the Annandale Way run I was reading a copy of Trail magazine which contained a leaflet detailing Scotland’s long distance footpaths and I found that there was one quite close to home – The Formartine and Buchan Way (FBW)

The FBW actually has two start points - one in Peterhead and one in Fraserburgh
I quite like doing long runs as “point to points” so the plan was to get the bus to Strichen with intention of running back to Dyce along the Formartine and Buchan Way, a distance of 31 miles.
I got off the bus at Strichen and climbed up on to the embankment to start my run. Looking across the village to the hillside I was astonished to see something looking like a white horse carved out on the hillside so I pulled out my camera and….disaster!....the battery was flat! So all of the pictures in this blog posting have been “borrowed” from random sources after all, it might be an extremely dull story without at least a few pictures!
The White Horse.
  The Formartine and Buchan way was opened in the early 1990s and runs along the route of the former railway line that was abandoned during the Beeching cuts in the 1960s. The footpath is flat gravel or earth track, easy running and, most importantly, well signposted. Over 31 miles there was barely a 1000ft of climbing. The route takes through railway cuttings, over embankments, road bridges and past old railway station buildings and structures left over from the golden age of the railways – I wonder how many hotels there are in Britain called “The Station hotel”?

The village of Maud is 5 miles on from Strichen and I reached it quite quickly, maybe too quickly given the distance that I still had to run but it felt easy. There is a railway museum in Maud (it was shut) and, in a clearing in the trees, something that looked like a train or an engine hiding under a tarpaulin. Unfortunately as I was relying on getting the train home from Dyce at the end of my run and it being a Sunday I was on a bit of a tight time schedule and so couldn’t investigate further.

Much of the route is on tracks like this (c random website on internet!)
The weather forecast had been for cool still misty conditions but as the temperature rose my running pace slackened and by about 22 miles the wheels had started to come off. By then I had already drunk 2 litres of water and had ran out of fluid and I was carrying the usual array of sweet carb filled snacks but found I couldn’t stomach them. Dehydration was making me feel nauseous and I needed salt. By the time I had reached Udny station I was considering giving up on the whole enterprise. I climbed up to the main road and wandered into the pub. A packet of crisps and a pint of coke later I felt a bit more lively and carried on although not quickly. I guess I have spent so many months worrying about staying warm and dry the change in conditions caught me by surprise – Simon reckoned it had got to a tropical 18 deg C in Aberdeen during the day. The primroses growing along the embankments made it really feel like summer had started – as did the cracking sunburn that I got for my efforts.

The pleasant rolling countryside eventually gave way to the busy roads, factory units, low flying helicopters and planes taking off from the airport. Quite an assault on the senses compared with the peace of the previous 30 miles filled with birdsong and the buzz of insects in the sunshine. There were some good wildlife watching opportunities too, the tally including deer and buzzards and a little shrew that shot across the path in front of me and proceeded to run round in frantic circles shrieking loudly – (why o why didn’t I check my camera battery before I set off?)
A shrew (c good ol' wikipedia...)
Given that both my fitness and nutrition strategy were really not up the task I felt reasonably pleased when my slow shuffle got me Dyce just in time for my train.
After the run my arms were more sore than my legs...


  1. Top marks for getting out and doing this on your own. Bottom marks for the camera battery. Always charge it up the night before or as you are prepping stuff. Your readership wants screaming shrew pics / movies.
    Nice "tan"!

  2. Carrying a camera you cant use is just extra weight too! The shrew was so cute and had beautiful velvet fur but I know they have very sharp teeth so i didnt touch him.
    Ive got very bad tan lines now...