Saturday, July 21, 2007
Scotland - Sydney
-The river at Dunkeld (north of Perth)
-Window in old church at Dunkeld
-Belinda has cup of tea (with new cardy)
-Amazing Scottish landscapes (Ben Nevis to Cairngorms)
- (For Sal) a Dunbar grave at Corgarff (between Inverness & Aberdeen))
-The River Feugh at Banchory (west of Aberdeen)
-Whisky bottle at picnic spot, Banchory
-Belinda and castles (Crathies, Dunotter)
-View from our window in Edinburgh (city skyline)
-Graveyard in Edinburgh
-Chris and E. Castle
-Belinda and E. graffiti
-Belinda in gorgeous E. hotel room
Day 1 - Drive from Gloucester, and in spite of dire English warnings about the distance, take only 4 hours to reach Scottish border (Gretna Green - enough said), another four hours to bypass Glasgow and head NE towards Perth. We end up in charming twin villages (Dunkeld/Birnam), divided by the river ...
it's pretty, old-fashioned and very civilised. We stay at the Royal Dunkeld, eat steak & guinness pie, and baked cod, and drink wine by the river in endless twilight (the sun sets about 9pm, but it's still light until 11pm). Kippers for breakfast - yum! I buy cardy in gorgeous knitwear shop.
Day 2 - Drive into the highlands - oh my god - the scenery - it's such a cliche... The driving is a pleasure - the roads are good and well-signposted, there's little traffic - a relief after crowded England. We drive through Glencoe and Ben Nevis national park, there are pockets of wall-to-wall B&Bs (Loch Ness - a good place to avoid!), but on the whole the tourism is low-key, and there are no crowds this early in the summer. North of Inverness we find a great riverside spot with a pub, but they are booked out - bummer - we go on to the next village (Maryburgh) and find a B&B in a tucked away spot, with a garden restaurant nearby. The restaurant promises 'black pudding salad', which sounds intriguing, but is disappointingly almost bereft of black pudding. I am appeased when there's a big slice of it on my breakfast plate next morning!
Day 3 - Why have we not been drinking lots of whisky? The nip we bought on the first evening was 3 quid each ($7.50), so we'd better buy it by the bottle - at 20 pounds ($50) for a 10 yo single malt it's much better value! We don't have time unfortunately to go further north or west, so head SE via Nairn and Culloden through the Cairngorm National Park. It's very different to the highlands - but equally dramatic, wild and windswept with amazing heather colours. We stop near Cock Bridge - there is a striking sculpture with a view over Corgarff Casle - and have morning tea of oatcakes, kippers and whisky (double-yum!). Just down the road at Corgarff is a beautiful cemetery - we can't resist a photo stop. Find our overnight stop (not too big, not too small, not too touristy!) at Banchory, where we buy v. good fish & chips and eat (with whisky!) overlooking the River Dee.
Day 4 - Oh no - our last day! We want to get to Edinburgh in time for a brief look around, and have to be at the airport at midday tomorrow, but first, Chris has promised me some castles! We visit Crathes castle, dating from 16th century - it's well-preserved and furnished, and the knowledgeable guides bring its history to life. Then to Stonehaven, and Dunotter Castle - the opposite extreme, it's a ruin on a craggy clifftop, very atmospheric and romantic.
Then to Edinburgh, arriving around 3pm, we start the search for a B&B - what a treasure hunt! After two hours of dead-ends and door-to-door enquiries, we are lucky to find the best room in the city - large elegant room in elegant corner terrace, with panoramic view of the city. It's already almost 6pm, but we still have several hours of daylight to explore, so we bus into the city and walk around the old town (Castle, Royal Mile) - so this is where all the tourists are! Walk back via old cemetery and Princes Park to the new town where we find some good pub grub (grilled salmon), then home to enjoy our skyline and the last of our whisky with oatcakes.
Now we're home, what can I say? It was totally gorgeous, and only enhanced by the odd whisky nip! Chris thought he was exhausted with travelling, but just a few hours in Scotland woke him up. Our new slogan for Scottish tourism - When you're tired of travelling, come home to Scotland!
Arrived home on saturday 14th to shocking cold (to think we had been telling the Scots that our winter was no colder than their summer - not true at all right now!). Then the additional shock of going back to work with jetlag! but it was worth it - what fun we had, can't wait to do it again!