A Travellerspoint blog

Scotland

The Last Two Days

Rothiemurchus and Edinburgh


View Joe and Susan's 25th on ORWAT's travel map.

Hello friends,
I have time for only a very quick update. Yesterday was a very full (and epic) day of mountain biking on some of the trails in the Rothiemurchus Estate that is part of the Cairngorms National Park. At the end of the 17-18 mile day, I discovered that I had come down with a cold-- one that I've been feeling coming on for the last several days. I felt pretty miserable, so rested before we went off to get something to eat. So, no blog writing.

This morning, we caught a train from Aviemore to Edinburgh. We arrived at our hotel just after our tour guide did. We had just about enough time to drop our bags in our room before we set off on a long, but informative, tour of Edinburgh.

We are now back at the hotel, but have about ten minutes before it's time for dinner. Yikes. I'm going to need a vacation after all of this traveling.

I'm including a few photos below. Unfortunately, the Rothiemurchus and Edinburgh photos were uploaded in one order, but assembled on the blog in a completely mixed up order (and I can't figure out how to change that, in a quick and easy way). But, you may be interested in knowing:
Photo #1: It's Edinburgh Castle, but if you look very closely at the lower part of the photo, you may be able to make out the large tent in which an Elvis impersonator is performing.
Next to the "Thistle do Nicely" photo: The ruins of the Loch an Eilein Castle in the Rothimurchus Estate.
For Outlander fans, a photo of "The World's End," a pub on the Royal Mile mentioned in Book 3.
For Harry Potter fans, the grave stone for "Thomas Riddell," who may have served as inspiration for J.K. Rowling, who wrote Harry Potter in a cafe not far away from this particular Edinburgh cemetery.

Slainte! And we are looking forward to seeing you!
Susan

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Posted by ORWAT 10:50 Archived in Scotland Tagged edinburgh aviemore cairngorms rothiemurchus Comments (0)

The End of the Speyside Way: Grantown to Aviemore

Lots of Walking, An Adorable Train, and a Bit of Vindication

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View Joe and Susan's 25th on ORWAT's travel map.

Hello Friends,

We began our day with a delicious breakfast at the Strathallan Guest House in Grantown on Spey. Then, we loaded up our suitcases (which would be transported to our next b&b by someone else) and the backpack that we would carry for our big day of walking to finish the Speyside Way.

The first leg of the trip was the walk from Grantown to Nethy Bridge, about 6 miles.
Gate Count: 21
Slug Count: 1

This was a fairly easy walk, along the disused rail line-- a little greener, and a little softer than the earlier part of the trail that we walked. Although mostly cloudy, we experienced no rain.

We stopped for lunch in a small town called Nethy Bridge, just before noon. We ate at the delightful Nethy House Cafe.

We started the second leg of the day at 1:00, walking from Nethy Bridge to Boat of Garten, about 5 miles. We rolled into Boat just around 3:00. Our best and fastest walk of the trip! This was a nice part of the walk, with more trail-like conditions. We walked through some nice forest area, including a little field of Christmas trees. It rained a bit, but other than that, was quite pleasant.
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Our plan was that once we arrived in Boat, we would look into the adorable steam engine train that we had seen advertised. We learned that the next train for Aviemore was scheduled for just after 4:00. So, we took a few minutes to check out the very small town and then popped into the Boat Hotel and Pub for a pint and to celebrate the near finish of our big walk. While we were at the pub, we bumped into one of the Speyside walkers we had met at the hotel in Ballindalloch. She agreed that the trail mileage is woefully understated. She had done one of the other big walks and found that the mileage was right on track.

We took the adorable train from Boat of Garten to Aviemore and arrived in Aviemore around 4:45. Aviemore is sort of like the North Conway of the Scottish Highlands-- more touristy, more shops, and a range of outdoor activities on offer. We found our b&b for tonight and tomorrow night, settled in and then found a restaurant for dinner.

Here we are at the end of the Way:
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Unfortunately, there is no "You've Finished!" or "Congratulations, You're Done!" Sign. May we'll put that in the suggestion box, if we find one.

And, now it's time for bed. We are exhausted!

Slainte,
Susan

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Posted by ORWAT 12:25 Archived in Scotland Tagged boat of on bridge way garten aviemore speyside grantown spey nethy Comments (0)

The Speyside Way, Day 3: Ballindalloch to Grantown on Spey

Supposedly 12 miles, But Really 15 or 16, and Counting Slugs

rain
View Joe and Susan's 25th on ORWAT's travel map.

Happy Fourth of July everyone!

We celebrated the big holiday (obviously, not a holiday here) by reveling in traditional Scottish weather-- rain and wind. We've been here for over two weeks, so we really shouldn't complain that the weather took so long to find us. But still, it wasn't the best day to deal with rain and wind, as this was the day for the most challenging of our Speyside hikes. By itself, the hike is not all that horrible, but it was a rather difficult day for us (especially me) for a few reasons:
1. We hiked 17 miles yesterday.
2. The rain and wind made everything a real drag.
3. The Scots seem not to have any accurate way of counting miles. We noticed this yesterday as well. Today's example: Our map indicated that the hike from Ballindalloch to Grantown on Spey would be about 12 miles. Not even close. It was more like 15 or 16, according to Joe's Apple watch. And my very tired legs and feet.

We started the day with a nice breakfast at our hotel in Ballindalloch. One of the women who works at the hotel then gave us a lift to the start of the trail, a little over a mile away.

Today's hike started back at the disused railroad bed, but we didn't stay there very long. Before we knew it, we were climbing and climbing and then going down a steep, grassy (and wet and slippery) hill, then back up another hill, then walking a long not very pleasant old logging road, then back to the disused rail line, and finally into the woods that seemed to go on forever. Much of the day was spent on hiking trails, and that was a little more pleasant than yesterday. Except when it was pouring rain.

To entertain ourselves, we counted slugs. Total at the end of the hike: 20.

We should have counted strange gates, the purpose of which seemed mostly to interfere with our ability to proceed at a reasonable pace. Grrrr.

But, along the way, we saw plenty of sheep, birds, kine (cows), bunnies, a few deer, and, of course, slugs. And, almost no people.

We finally made it to our b&b in Grantown on Spey. The b&b, The Strathallan Guest House, is a lovely place with lots of nice touches-- all in its highland splendor. We had dinner at a nice little restaurant not too far (alas, I can hobble only so far) and now we are enjoying a wee dram of some Highland Park that we picked up in Kirkwall, before we pack up in preparation for tomorrow's walk toward Aviemore.

Here are a few photos that we were able to take when it wasn't raining too hard:
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Posted by ORWAT 13:21 Archived in Scotland Tagged ballindalloch speyside_way grantown_on_spey Comments (0)

The Speyside Way, Day 2: Craigellachie to Ballindalloch

I May Never Walk Again

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View Joe and Susan's 25th on ORWAT's travel map.

Hello friends,
Today started with a lovely breakfast at the b&b. Joseph went all out for the full Scottish breakfast. Lots of meat. He was happy.

Before leaving adorable little Craigellachie, we visited the Telford Bridge. According to TripAdvisor, it's the #1 and #2 thing to do in Craigellachie:
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Then, we headed for Aberlour, about a two mile walk. At Aberlour, we talked with the very nice people at the Visitor Center and then we wandered around town a bit, visiting the gift shop at the Aberlour Distillery (10:00 am seemed a little early for a tour) and then grabbed some lunch items at the Spey Larder for later.

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Then, the long march to Ballindalloch began. It should have been about 10 miles from Aberlour, but somehow managed to be about 13 or 14. I won't go into the details, but there was a wrong turn or two (that I did not make). The Speyside Way is not known as a particularly scenic, but we found a few mysterious distilleries (no visitors), some lovely flowers, a few bridges, some sheep, and some old railroad stations (the trail follows an old, disused railway line):
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We are now at the hotel in Ballindallloch. We had dinner and a whisky. Now it's time to fall asleep and hope that we can move in the morning!

Slainte!
Susan

Posted by ORWAT 13:08 Archived in Scotland Tagged way speyside aberlour Comments (1)

The Speyside Trail, Day 1: Cooperage and Dufftown Spur

We Had a Barrel of Fun

semi-overcast
View Joe and Susan's 25th on ORWAT's travel map.

Hello friends,
Today began with a lovely breakfast at our b&b and then Joseph and I headed for the 9:30 am tour of the Speyside Cooperage-- where they make many of the barrels in which the "water of life" rests and matures for lots of distilleries. Joseph and I enjoyed the tour a great deal-- very informative. We had, as Joseph insists on reporting, a "barrel of fun."

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Then, we went in search of The Speyside Trail. We didn't intend on walking much of the trail today. Instead, we walked the "Dufftown Spur," off of the Speyside Trail, in order to take a tour at the Glenfiddich distillery.

As promised, the Trail was not especially scenic, although it was pleasant:
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Our walk took us about five miles. As we entered Dufftown, we had a nice lunch at an adorable cafe in an old railway car. Then, before going to the Glenfiddich Visitor Center, we walked to the Balvenie Castle, although we didn't have time to go through it.

Our Glenfiddich tour was the "Deconstructed Tour." This included many of the pieces of the regular tour, but added on a warehouse visit and then a visit to a special room where we could taste four different Glenfiddich whiskies and THEN, blend our own. We were able to take home a small bottle of our own making. Very fun and exciting (although figuring out the alcohol content of each personal bottle took a great deal of math, or "maths" as the Scottish would say)!
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Finally, it was time to start winding down for the day. We went in search of our taxi (we book this whole adventure through a company that would take care of all of these little pieces for us). But, the taxi was nowhere to be seen. After a long wait, Joseph tried to use his phone to call. Still, no luck. Joseph went to the gift shop to ask for help, and one of the young women there was able to help us out. Thank goodness.

Our tour at Glenfiddich was a very good one. It was not nearly as corporate and full of in your face branding clues as Macallan. Before the tours, I probably would have reached for a Macallan before a Glenfiddich. That has now changed. Both of us also liked the fact that Glenfiddich is still owned and operated by the family that started the whole enterprise.

This evening, we had a lovely dinner at the Copper Dog, the pub attached to the Craigellachie Hotel. Then, we went upstairs to their whisky bar. I had a Glenfarclas and Joe, a Caol Ila. I liked the Glenfarclas better.

Now it's time for sleep. We have a long walk tomorrow (12 miles) to Ballindalloch, and we are hoping to stop along the way, at least to the Aberlour Distillery and the Walker Shortbread Factory Store.

Slainte
Susan

Posted by ORWAT 14:40 Archived in Scotland Tagged way trail speyside cooperage glenfiddich Comments (0)

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