By Sgt Samantha Scott.
ABF The Soldiers’ Charity is celebrating 75 years of supporting soldiers, veterans and their families in times of need. As members of the Aberdeen Detachment of 205 (Scottish) Field Hospital, we cycled 40 miles from Aberdeen to Peterhead via Maud on ‘The Formartine & Buchan Way’.
On the morning of Saturday, September 14 a rainbow brightened up the sky with accompanying rain as we loaded the wagons with our bikes and kit. Resplendent in our ABF t-shirts and padded shorts, we set off to the start point at Dyce. It was a case of all the gear and no idea, well for some of the five of us anyway! Eck Stewart, the Scottish Liaison Officer from ABF, came to the start point to see us off. The rain had stopped, and we got on our bikes and headed for Udny Station.
The Formartine and Buchan way is a beautiful cycle route on a former railway line from Aberdeen to Peterhead and Fraserburgh. Over a bridge and with fields on either side the weather was perfect; not too hot or too cold. We were able to cycle side by side in pairs for most parts, before we had to weave through the first obstacle of gates, which SSgt Karen Hill was not a fan of. We had cycled our first nine miles to Udny in good spirits to swap drivers and onto Ellon.
We made it in good time to Ellon for oversized pancakes and coffee. Despite eating a lot, we managed to complete the seven miles to Auchnagatt along the riverside for another change of driver and onward the four and a half miles to Maud where we stopped for a spot of lunch.
The Old Café Mart is a lovely community café with a lot of history with the farm animal mart. We finished the last of the homemade lentil soup and some sandwiches, and another espresso for Pte Paul Shepherd. A lovely group of elderly couples asked us about the cycle and charity and were kind enough to give us a donation. Another driver change and we left Maud for the six miles to Mintlaw.
A few more stops along the way and a last change of drivers and we arrived in Peterhead for one last group photo. Attempting to use the timers on our phones turned into a total disaster! And, with LCpl Lynn Catto having no charge on her phone and SSgt Karen Hill forgetting hers, we only had three of us to take some photos en route.
Much to SSgt Karen Hill’s delight there were no more gates to weave and wobble through, and we headed to the harbour for one final photo and some bubbly to celebrate another charity cycle completed. All in all it was a great day out with good company and a good wee route. Bikes back on the wagon and we were off to the barracks to get cleaned up.
A huge thank you to Eck Stewart from ABF for supplying the t-shirts and banners and joining us at the start. Thank you to Capt Mick Whyte for organising the event. Who knows what he has planned for next year?