This time our visit to Scotland was for those used to the drier climes of thirtysixdegreessouth, very moist to say the least! Scotland’s vibrant green must come from somewhere and this time we discovered where!
Having said that the lovely misty pastel colours of the highlands when rain showers were sweeping through are simply beautiful.
And to be fair the rain didn’t really stop us! We enjoyed a touristy hop on hop off bus ride in Edinburgh, observing the deconstruction of the immense scaffolding for the Edinburgh Tattoo outside the Castle. So much more elaborate than when we saw it 20 or more years ago. Also the anti greyhound abuse protest outside the Scottish Parliament reminded us that 36degreessoouth and 56degreesnorth are not so far apart!
The ex Royal Yacht Britannia is really worth a visit. It’s like looking at a time capsule in naval history and in the royals’ history. Just as a taster here’s a look at the bridge and the flag cabinet and the contrast between the royals’ sitting room and the state dining room and the crew quarters is, I guess, unsurprising. However from everything we read and saw it was place where the family and crew had worked out a good working relationship that was as informal as it could be outside of any official functions.
Having never visited Aberdeen before we were interested to see what the Granite City was like – it was a very wet day so the greyness of the granite did look even greyer, but a lot of the buildings were quite elegant and the couple of museums we sheltered in were very good. The maritime museum is especially excellent – great interactive exhibitions and the information about the north sea oil rigs fascinating.
Onward to Royal Deeside! This area, along the River Dee is famous for its association with Queen Victoria and the castle at Balmoral where the Queen spends her summer holidays. She was there when we there, but we didn’t see her, even when we visited the local church she attends and the distillery not far from the castle, Enjoyed a tour of the distillery and an explanation of whisky varieties (not sure that is the correct terminology!) and some tastings. Don’t think I’m a convert though!!
Didn’t see any royals on our walk around Loch Muich (pronounced Mick) which is on the Balmoral estate. Did start to see some autumn colours though. The building was built by Queen Victoria as a picnic pavilion – looks not much used now!
The railway line Queen Victoria used to get to Balmoral is disused now and much of it has been turned into the Deeside Walk, we did a couple of stretches – it’s fairly easy walking and a great use of an old rail bed. I can think of some good ex railway lines near 36degreessouth that could be used like this.
Our really wet experience was in western Scotland not far from Oban, it was really soggy. Evidently the remnants of the two big hurricanes had worked their way up the Atlantic and were then dumping on us! We did a little walking but it was in full rain gear and I have to say not 100% pleasant! We did try to stick to forest trails (like the spelling on the log?) or minor roads rather than slipping and sliding on walking trails. Couldn’t get the ferry to Iona because of the weather so that’s still on my bucket list!
Some entertainment was provided by the fact that the hydro electrical station a few hundred metres from our accommodation had been on fire the day we arrived and took several days to put out. As well as being able to observe progress from the comfort of the couch, it provided one of us with lots opportunities to find out first hand about fire fighting at 56degreesnorth!!
We were also super fortunate to be close to the lovely Kilchrenan Inn which does great coffee, has fantastic meals and good wine! So we didn’t suffer from the weather’s effects too greatly!!