I didn’t quite get to the blog during the Scottish tour, but I did keep a regular journal. I present you with the Scottish Supplemental pages… much as I recorded them. Forgive the breathless quality–I was hiking a lot, you see.
We arrived in Edinburgh about 2pm and drove straight up to Perth! We stayed in a small room with the tiniest bed! But we went down, heard a band, had a pint, and ate some Haggis. We were very Scottish.
Left Perth and drove to the outskirts of Inverness. We stayed at a Holiday Inn (how embarrassing!) But it was a good day. We stopped in a little town of Stonehaven—it is on the North Sea. Such a lovely little sea village; we bought scones and then went hiking 2 miles to the ruins of an old castle—Donneter (my spelling might be off here). We walked up the bluffs and along the rim—it was SO windy!! The castle once held the Scottish Regalia, and was the site of religious persecution, too. The ruins were so wonderful, and we took many photos of it. I was glad we packed the scone—we ate it on the way back and then continued north to Inverness where we had a waitress who didn’t speak English well and kept saying “What?” over and over. We bought some provisions for the trek north, and went to bed early.
We left Inverness and headed up the East coast. We stopped at a castle called Dunrobin—the first tower was built in 1100, and it has been added to ever since. Part of it is a museum and the Countess still has apartments there, though she is in her 90s. Queen Victoria once slept there and we saw the bed that was hand-made for the occasion. We saw a great falconry show—though the little owl was getting blown all around since it was windy. His name was Plop. Guess why? We had a warning as he flew over our heads, but no one got messy. He then ate a mouse the size of his head. Nifty. Afterwards, I was freezing because of the rain so I went to the tea room for a scone. Mark went to the museum, which was so neat—wish I would have gone. The tea room was in the servants kitchen, though, and still had the brass bell pulls. We left the castle and drove up to Wick, WAY up north. We were threatened by 100 mile an hour winds (well, actually these were south of us), and ash from the volcanic eruption in Iceland. The town of Wick lost power while we were there, but we had tea by gas-power (and no need for light, as it does not get dark till past 11pm…and light at 4am. THAT far north!!) We talked with our guest-house hosts John and Phyllis for hours and got all the good info on the area. We also saw a rainbow in town—Mark suggested Slovenian gold might be at the end of it [another of those family jokes].
We left our hosts and traveled on the north road—which is one lane (you have to pull off if someone is coming the other way). The scenery speaks for itself, though photos don’t do it justice. There is NOTHING up there, in the highlands. Makes you wonder why the English took it from the highlanders. We passed John-O-Groats and Durness (highest points on the Scottish mainland). We also stopped at a hippy/gypsy village in Durness to by chocolate from the cocoa mountain artisans. We kept moving and got really tired of driving, so we didn’t do any sight seeing. We drove right to Ullapool and got a room. Then we ate dinner and played pool in the local pub. Ullapool is a fishing village and they do lobster and crab catching. We saw the ferry and bought sweaters at the woolen mill. Then we went south, intending to stay in Blair Atholl because I got it confused with another town (Pitlochry). Blair Atholl does have a truly lovely watermill tea house that we stopped at the next day (went there three years ago as well). We went on to sleep the night at ButtonBoss hotel in Pitlochry, down the road. What a nice place! We ate at the Fern Cottage and then played chess until bed time in the ButtonBoss lounge. (No one ever wins–somehow this double-alpha family always ends in a draw).
We love Perthshire–and Pitlochry. We shopped, we did laundry, we enjoyed scenery. HUGE Scottish breakfasts: meat with a side of meat. Really. Haggis, black pudding, bacon, sausage and eggs. That is all meat. Mark was so happy. We took a nice walk in Blair Atholl, and the watermill there still grinds its own flour to make bread. Such a great place…Hot buttered scones!!
We had a leisure day and then gathered our things for the trip to Ben Lawers, past Aberfeldy, where we stayed before at Machium Farm cottages. A nice drive. VERY narrow roads. For dinner we had fabulous food—chicken stuffed with haggis and wrapped in bacon, served over black pudding with whiskey-cream sauce. There was one piece of cauliflower on the side. That counts for veggies up here. Mark had curry, and we schemed about owning our own BandB.
We left Ben Lawers and went back to Pitlochry to stay at the ButtonBoss again. Loved it there. We saw a 5000 year old Yew tree today, too, which was very impressive; it was geriatric when Jesus was born! Used to measure 56 feet, but people abused it over the years. Neat place, in a little graveyard. That evening we walked to the dam and fish-ladder. And unlike the states, they let you go anywhere without a bunch of hoopla because they expect you not to be stupid and fall over the dam. We ate dinner that night at Victoria’s—I am writing a review of them for TripAdvisor; they were lovely. We spoke a while to the owner, Angus, then off to play chess again (for a draw).
The next day, we took a walk through town and then drove south to Edinburgh. And the trip sadly drew to its close. For Mark. For me, it was beginning a-fresh–back to work!