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The Travel Journal of Jacqui and Lars

 

Scotland - 26 May, 2004

 

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Location Latitude Longitude Elevation

Travel Distance

Start Pitlochry (Pine Trees Hotel) N5642.398' W00344.545' 133 meters .
Grampian Mountains . . . .
-  Devils' Elbow . . . .
Balmoral . . .  
Finish Huntly (The Castle Hotel) N5727.599' W00246.805' 131 meters 170 km

Total (BMW 330CiC)

4,307 km

Total (other):

1,055 km

Total:

5,362 km

 

Weather: In the morning cloudy, cool and windy.  In the afternoon, clearing with occasional sun.  In the evening, clear, sunny and warm.  Cool overnight.

 

 

After another very filling breakfast at the Pine Trees Hotel (one of the best on our trip in Scotland), we are ready for our day's drive up to Speyside, where we will be staying at Huntly.  We have a bit of a slow start, even accounting for the extra cups of coffee and tea over breakfast, and only gat away just before 11 AM.  On our way out of town we make a quick stop at the supermarket to get some additional food for a picnic lunch.

 

The route we take today goes over the Grampian mountains, and it is certainly a very scenic drive.  The road winds up and into the sloping mountains, sometimes forming steep walls on each side of us as we drive up the long valleys.  Along the way, eagle eyes Jacqui spots two separate herds of deer, high up on the edges of the ridges above us.  It was quite a sight to see these large wild(?) herds grazing out there.

 

For lunch, we pulled off the road at Devil's Elbow, a high mountain pass.  While it was a bit brisk in the wind that gusted down the valley, we had a great view and spot.  We made up our sandwiches and enjoyed the view.  The more energetic climbed high up the valley wall.

 

Driving on from lunch, our next stop was at Balmoral, the holiday home of the Queen in Scotland.  We paid our admissions and walked through the expansive, well kept green grounds up to the castle.  I was pleasantly surprised to see that it was not a very grand place.  Of pretty modest size (for the Queen of what was once the empire that spanned the globe), it was very tastefully done.  It reflected the style of the Royal Yacht that we had just visited.

 

We have a quick look around the one or two rooms that we are allowed to see inside and then make our way over to the stables, where we see some exhibits and their horses being washed and groomed.  They are certainly taken care of well.

 

From Balmoral, we stopped by Royal Lochnagar Distillery, but they charged a high fee for a tour and would not even give out a wee dram for tasting.  And they did not even act very friendly.  Oh, well.  Just glad that we had been to Islay, with our great experiences there.

 

Now on again.  From here, it takes us a bit more than an hour to get to Huntly and our next hotel for the next two nights.  What an entrance we make to the hotel here.  From the small town, we drive through some large, stone gates, down a narrow path to the (old) Huntly Castle (good thing we were not staying there - no roof or toilets), across a narrow bridge and then up a very long, thin drive to the hotel, former residence of the Duke of Gordon.

 

We check into our rooms and then we head out for a quick look around the old ruins of the Huntly Castle.  We decide to walk down the lengthy drive way, back over the bridge and up to the ruins.  A very interesting place to visit, especially bathed in the warm evening sun that was no shining in full force.  The castle was in ruins because one of the former owners had made the unwise choice a few centuries ago to back the wrong side in one of the many religious struggles (that seem to carry on to today in one form or another).  He did not repent and he lost his family, his belongings, his castle and his head.

 

After meandering around the ruin and reading the various display boards (and in the case of Jacqui, climbing some of the walls), we sit down on the many carved stones scattered around and have a wee dram from our flask.  But soon we must be heading back to the hotel - it is dinner time.  We have decided to be lazy and to have dinner in the hotel tonight.

 

After a quick change, we all meet back down in the bar for another refreshing drink.  The manager of the hotel, a friendly gentleman whose whole family seems to work at the hotel and who has been all over the world, is kind enough to entertain master Carl.  Over our drinks we make our selection from the dinner menu.  In the meantime we have also been entertained by the bartender (son of the manager), who has big ears and a witty mouth.  We stay in the bar and are only summoned to the dining room when our food is ready to be served.

 

After another enjoyable dinner, we once again retire to the bar for another round of drinks and some more games (this time cards, so it is not as noisy) before heading back up to our rooms for the night.

 

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