After a couple of days' rest to be on the safe side for Doogs, we were ready to move on. Well, sort of- with absolutely no let up in the weather, it was getting harder to feel enthusiastic. My intended route east was blocked by rivers in spate with little likelihood of them going down enough to cross safely any time soon.
Enter my friend Vyv, an indomitable Long Rider who doesn't consider a little drop of rain (or even a month's rainfall in one day which we were to experience) to be any kind of barrier to having a great time.
Together with Vyv and her Fell pony Micky, we rode together into Speyside and through Rothiemurchus and Abernethy estates and on to Grantown on Spey. And we DID have a great time, just the boost the boys and I were needing!
Despite the weather (rivers bursting banks all over Moray and Speyside) this is a fantastic area to ride in. An excellent network of tracks through attractive forestry (much of it Scots pine, so much lovelier than Sitka), hill tracks and the disused railway track of the Speyside Way, we rode through together as far as Grantown. We can vouch for the excellent drying room at Glenmore Lodge!
Vyv isn't ultra-keen on camping (& certainly not in the rain) so we had a few nights' b & b in various (excellent) establishments. Hmmm, could get used to that...
This is a fine area for riding, with good grazing possibilities for horses (though I'm not sure the boys fully appreciated being put up next to the slaughterhouse in Grantown.) I DARED Vyv to ask directions to the slaughterhouse from the first passerby we met as we rode into town, just to enjoy the stunned reaction.
High point (in more ways than one) had to be the Ryvoan Pass (pictured) but the whole area is delightful. I especially enjoyed meeting a couple on Nethy Bridge whom I'd first met when I was riding through the Bowmont Valley in the Cheviots a couple of months ago - they couldn't believe I was still plodding (or should that be wading) on.
It's certainly somewhere I intend to come back to explore some more. At this rate, I'm going to need more than one measly lifetime (and so are Doogs and Yeoman).
Vyv came along at precisely the right time - although I do enjoy riding alone, it's also great to have company sometimes. And as Granny always said, an ounce of help is worth a cartload of sympathy- and Vyv is nothing if not experienced and practical, (as well as entertaining).
After parting company, the boys and I headed east along the Speyside Way. I HAD intended riding northwards and along the Moray coast, but the flood devestation experienced in that area over the last day or two suggested that might be heading for trouble.
So instead, a reroute and we were off to the land of distilleries, excellent!!