Friday, 31 October 2014

UK 2014, not tonight

Had a great day, busy and fascinating. Going out to a Ceilidh tonight, no time to post. Will probably do 2 or 3 posts tomorrow.

Thursday, 30 October 2014

UK 2014, Celtic Crosses and Kingussie walk

We spent the morning trying to figure out how we are going to get to Glasgow on Saturday. There is work being done on the tracks this weekend so the train would take us to Perth, then bus us to Stirling, then train again to Glasgow and then still not at the hotel. It would take about 4 hours and cost about 20 pounds each. The bus involves two changes, would take 6 hours, and would cost slightly more than the train. We finally found a service that will drive us door to door and decided to take that even though it was the most expensive. We are lugging luggage and this seemed a stress free option.
Pam and I walked around a church near the house, on a mound directly opposite, across the river, from the Ruthven Barracks.
I was interested in the number of Cletic Crosses there were.
I have been interested in hooking a celtic knot rug and may use these as a starting off point.
I took pictures of about 10 but this is the last one I'll post.
Lunch at the Teapot Café and then I went for a walk. I started out walking the trail along the Gynack Burn (river).

Well signed walks.
Lovely paths through the woods
Beside a rushing, swirling river. The Gynack cuts through a deep gorge and has powered mills and
provided water to the town and a distillery.
When I reached the top of the Gynack Mill Trail I decided to walk the next loop around the golf course.
Part of the path follows the river through the golf course.
Stairs up out of the river valley and then a clear path through the bracken around the top golf holes.
Magnificent views from the top of the golf course.
and the path continued up
finally I saw Loch Gynack which I knew was the furthest point on this path.
Another path went up to the top, I didn't take it but turned back down the hill to Kingussie.
It was about 4pm when I started down, beginning to get quite dark in the wooded sections and
I really had to watch my footing with slippery rocks, roots and muddy places. I was glad I had
told Heather and Don where I was going, envisioning a twisted ankle.
I walked about three and a half miles in about 2 hours. Walking back through town I was hailed from an open door. Heather, Don and Pam were having a drink at The Tipsy Laird. That cider went down very well!
Heather and Don drank the local brew on tap, Pam and I  had the cider on tap.
Glenbogle train station sign in the bar. The bartender talked about the Monarch of the Glen cast drinking
there as the series was shot at an estate close by.

Wednesday, 29 October 2014

UK 2014, Eilean Donan Castle

Our little Clio

We were up early and walked to the West End garage and rented a little Clio, 2 door, gutless, cute little car. Off we drove. The guy who rented us the car warned us that the first 45 minutes was on a road that had not been built for the logging trucks that were using it, it was too narrow and had no shoulders. Don set out driving and we immediately found that the rental man was right about the trucks, it was exhausting, mentally shrinking the car as the trucks barrelled towards us. Soon the scenery made us forget the stress.
Frost on the top of the rental car when we picked it up this morning.
Magnificent house across the first loch, Loch Laggan.
Laggan Dam. This is a huge dam and plumes of water were pouring out of the tubes and
roaring down into the river below.
Mists over the river below the dam.
At times we were above the clouds that poured over the tops of the mountains
and down into the valleys.
The scenery was wonderful and we were tempted by one lay-by after another to stop and
take pictures.
The rain has given us flooding and all the rushing highland rivers are full. We look
up the mountains and see water rushing over flat rocks, trickling over rocky crevices,
dropping over waterfalls and oozing down mossy narrows.

We had a number of animals we were hoping to see, this holiday: stags, eagles, badgers, otters, hedgehogs and highland cows. We checked two off the list on this trip.
Red deer doe and fawns.
Magnificent male.
The older stag, rose and challenged the younger one. He gave the impression he was just indulging
the older one. They had a short tiff and then went back to grazing. Just keeping the tourists happy.
We drove through areas of beautiful gorse, heather and grasses turning brown. Every now and then there
were copses of evergreen trees and yellow leafed trees. It made for soft colours on the hills, muted until
lit by the sun, which happened occasionally as we drove home.
Heather picking Heather.
Really? Just for half a mile?

The second item to be checked off our list occurred as we drove along the first tidal loch. I was watching a v in the water that I thought might be a duck, getting closer I could see it was a head. When it dove there was a long sleek back - I had seen an otter. Heather saw it too. Just as we were commiserating with Don, as he was driving, we all three saw another one. First otter I have ever seen!
No pictures, it happened too fast.

Our first view of Eilean Donan Castle.
Eilan Donan Castle is at the intersection of three Lochs; Loch Duich, Loch Long and Loch Alsh. They are tidal so we were greeted by the smell of seaweed and the call of gulls (love it).
This is promoted as the most romantic castle in Scotland.
It is actually an old (16th century) castle that was demolished by the English and then the family/clan that owned it rebuilt it in 1912 to 1932, as a family home. It is open to the public and we viewed the dining hall, kitchen and bedrooms as they were in 1912 to 1932.
Views from the castle up the lochs are lovely in all 3 direction.

A castle resident.

Getting later and tides further out as we left.
We drove back through the magnificent mountains and lochs as the sun was going down. Don and I shared the driving but he got the last shift; in the dark, dealing with the logging trucks on the narrowest roads. Home by 6pm, whew!!
As we walked back through town we noticed that the second fish  and chip store, The Happy Haggis(?) was open. We ended up doing "Take away" from there. I had Scampi and Chips with curry sauce and green peas (as opposed to the grey ones).
Tired after a lovely day.

Tuesday, 28 October 2014

UK 2014, Kingussie and Ruthven Barracks

Heather, Don and I set out to find the tourist bureau in Kingussie and hopefully find out how to hire a car for a day. We wandered the streets of Kingussie with the local map in hand.
The oldest house in Kingussie,. It used to be part of the Folk Museum but now that the
museum has moved to a new facility it sits empty. It is right opposite the Iona Gallery
and, when it was the museum, provided a lot of traffic.
The door of an old church that had been taken over by the local council and now
seems to be attached to the local community leisure centre.
Heather found a little lane into an old cemetery. The church is no longer there. She was
thrilled to find a stone listing a Davidson.
The Bank of Scotland is in a lovely old building.
We had a cappuccino in Pam's Café and the two gentlemen working there were very helpful. One checked the next door garage for car rental and found that the one at the other end of the village does rent cars. They also told us how to get to Ruthven Barracks and told us (quite emotionally) that it was the last place that the Scottish Standard was flown.
We walked around town, booked the car for tomorrow,  then returned back to the house for lunch. We then set out, past the train station, on Ruthven Rd.
It has been raining here for at least a week and a half and the River Spey has burst its banks

Even the local Shinty pitch was flooded.
We walked over three bridges that normally crossed the river and creeks however now all the land, on both sides of the bridges and road joining them, was covered with swirling water. Past 3 confused horses with very little land to stand on, under the A9 and then saw this view:
This motivated us to keep walking as the barracks looked far more picturesque than we had anticipated.
We had been told at Pam's Café (now owned by Nikki) that all the rain would have filled the moat. Actually
the loch, river and moat had all merged.
We passed a field of lovely, shaggy, stocky horses. All very friendly, looking for food.
The setting is beautiful, surrounded by water, on a rise, in the centre of the valley with hills all
around and mountains in the distance.
The barracks were built by the Hanoverians (English) in response to the Jacobite (Scottish) uprisings.
This and 3 other barracks were supposed to "bring peace to the Highlands" and guarded major
military highways.
The 2 barrack buildings on either side of a parade ground were designed to hold 120 soldiers.
The Scottish attacked and were repelled but then the English surrendered the barracks after a siege.

They hoped that Bonnie Prince Charlie would join them there but, shortly after the capture of the barracks,
he sent word that "every man should find their own way as best they could", admitting defeat. The Scottish
burned the barracks and left it much as it is today.
A flock of swans on the loch.
Kayakers taking advantage of the high water.

As we left the wind had dropped, providing reflections in the floodwaters.
Back past the horses.

It was getting cold as the sun was setting behind the hills. We ran into a local photographer and talked light, photographs, golden eagles and how much he liked his time in Edmonton (go figure) as we snapped sunset pictures before heading home.