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Through the Grampian Mountains to Huntly

Home -> Europe -> Scotland -> Travelogue Scotland -> 23 March 2004

Tuesday 23 March, through the Grampian Mountains to Huntly

It takes a few hours before we can say goodbye to Iain and Cathy. Every year it is hard to go away from this warm and welcoming place and these good friends. At last we leave the village honking loudly. To be honest: we have no idea where we are going. We watched the weather forecast to see if we can better go to the west or the east coast but the east seems to be a bit drier and sunnier. So the magnificient Applecross peninsula has to wait a bit for our next visit. When we take a turn at Carrbridge into the direction of Speybridge we see that on the Grampian Mountains has fallen much more snow in the last few days.
Lecht ski area Lecht ski areaThe roads bring us up and up into the mountains until we reach the Lecht ski area. The chairlift still runs and when we get out to take a pucture of it, snow and hail starts to fall. There is a firm wind and it hurts in our faces. Quicly we get inside the car.
When we drive on the road has become extremely slippery. In fact, we don't know if we have to wait or to gon on, but we are going down already and we can't stop anymore. The road has an inclination of 20 degrees and it sure looks very steep. Fortunately it is also very broad and has a few bumps. We have the car in second gear and the handbrakes on.
We can't remember much of the next minutes, maybe that is only good. At the end of the long straight road we are doing 70 kilometers an hour with a whistling engine. An upgoing hill slows us down a bit just before the next sharp turn and we have to open the windows to get rid of all the sweat that covers the 2windows, with the blower on maximum strength. When we finally come to a stop we see two cars appearing from behind and we have to speed up again. After a few minutes the weather looks nice again and the road is dry and clean as if it never has been differently. It has been a very exciting adventure but we don't want to do it again!
Dark skies Clear skiesAt the first opportunity to stop at a parking place we take a break but we never see the two cars again that were behind us. They were just after another without the means to brake, so maybe they have collided, we don't know. There weren't any exits. At least we are very glad we have left this slippery zone and watch the scenery changing from dark (to the left) into a sun-drenched landscape full of heather.
Oak Hall in BallaterWe drive on to Ballater where we see this castle, called Oak Hall. In this place we take a well deserved break, to recover from our adventure. It is amazing that we remember only a few details, in fact only that it was very exciting and frightening.
When we leave Ballater we have some cloudbursts and after a while we decide to to a little further to Aberdeen, to look for a hotel there. But after fifteen minutes the clouds are all gone and the sun shines again. The weather can change so fast Scotland! So we go on for a few more hours, it would be a waste of time to stop now.
Kildrummy CastleWe drive to the north again and pass a few castles, like Kildrummy Castle. The old castle is a ruin, at the moment closed. There is also a hotel with the same name, but that is a bit too expensive for us, more than € 100 per person per night).
HuntlyWe still don't know where we will spend the night when we drive into Huntly around 5 o'clock. It is a nice looking medieval town and we walk around a bit, searching for a pub to have a drink. In Huntly Hotel we check out the prices and since they are reasonable we check in for two nights. Now we have to make a new travel scheme since we hadn't planned this. But it doesn't matter, we are quite flexible and this area also needs a bit more attention from us.
Huntly Castle Huntly CastleSince it is still daylight we visit Huntly Castle (with a luxurious hotel with the same name behind it). It is a ruin but looks very characteristically a castle. Unfortunately it is closed now. Another place where a lot of ferocities took place.
Our hotelroom View from our room, HuntlyIn the hotel we get a big room with a splendid view: over the medieval square of Huntly. It is only a pity that cars are allowed and the square has been turned into a parking lot.
We eat a bit and then return to our room early. It has been an exiting and exhausting day. We still can't believe we have made it down that mountain in such a good way, without accidents. Strange, but in our dreams we see deep abysses and steep roads covered with ice...


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