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Going back to Beauly and a tour through Speyside

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Tuesday 05 June, going back to Beauly and a tour through Speyside

After the beautiful sunny day yesterday, today it changes all the time with occasional showers and a lot of degrees less on the thermometer. The hotel is now packed with a large group of elderly people who have breakfast at the same time and it takes a while before we get our usual holiday breakfasts: fried eggs on toast for Elisabeth and scrambled eggs for me. We rarely eat breakfast at home, but in the holidays we always make up for that.
Because we have driven most of the roads in the north here, we can quickly descend to the south. We go to Wick to refuel gas and still the engine turns off now and then and we have to wait 5 minutes before we can switch to lpg. We now also use 1 litre lpg for 7.5 km. according to the counter, very very inefficient.
Harbour of Lateronwheel Harbour of LateronwheelBut I would not be myself if I did not pay attention to the map! After Lybster there are still a number of white roads on the map that we have not explored (I mark roads we have been to with a black permanent marker), like the one leading to the little harbor of Latheronwheel. Again there is a story from the time of the Clearances to be told: the village was founded in 1835 to give former farmers a new life as a fisherman. We can not imagine that there were once 50 herring cutters in this harbor.
Church towerIn Helmsdale we stop to look at the minerals and fossil store. The museum next door is closed. Between Brora and Helmsdale there is a fault line where many fossils have been found and those are also for sale in the store. However, the prices are abnormally high. We used to visit regularly Idar-Oberstein, which is the world trade center for minerals, and there the prices are much more reasonable.
Deserted tower Deserted towerAround Brora are still a large number of roads that we (especially I, I admit) want to drive and at a deserted shed with a funny little tower we stop for our lunch picnic. Fortunately, the weather is dry and not very cold anymore. Unfortunately, there is no one in the neighborhood whom we can ask what the function of the turret has been, perhaps a warehouse of some sort?
Clynelish Distillery BroraBehind Brora we drive past the Clynelish Distillery, where a smoky single malt is made. About 3.4 million liters per year and with that a fairly large distillery. I like to drink a whiskey from time to time but I do not know this one yet.
Flooded road, Brora Flooded road, BroraAlong one of the many roads behind Brora where fanatically new and large houses are being built, I suddenly see a road that I think I recognize. We drive in and indeed, this is the road where we a few years ago were but then on the other side of the part of the road that is flooded by the river Brora. Even then the road had been flooded and apparently there is no reason to do anything about it. There is a walkway for cyclists and walkers but it is to deep to cross it by car.
Gatelodge at Newton PointWe decide to make a small detour via Bonar Bridge and take a few side roads. In front of the hamlet of Whiteface there is a dead-end road and a sign pointing to Newton Point. On the map we see that it runs up to the Dornoch Firth. But halfway we suddenly see this gate lodge, a gatekeeper's house that indicates that there is probably a castle behind it. That is another good argument for my idea that we really have to drive all roads here, no matter how short they are, because you never know what kind of beuatiful things you encounter. Unfortunately we do not get to see a glimpse of the castle itself.
Dornoch FirthAfter a while we reach the end of the road near Dornoch Firth and on the narrow path we suddenly get a car behind us. At the end of the pass there is a fairly monumental building and probably it is the owner of the house. When we turn at the house and drive back we get another car behind us, another with a woman behind the wheel, surely the lady of the house. So suddenly it becomes very busy on this a super-small road!
The weather is deteriorating now and from Bonar Bridge we drive directly to Beauly where we are again warmly welcomed, although they are surprised to see us: oh, would you not come back tomorrow? But fortunately there is still a room available for us and after a short period of rest we spend the rest of the evening in the pub where it is cozy and warm.

Wednesday 06 June 2007, a tour through Speyside

We are well rested and we have no idea what we are going to do. Iain still has to pick up his jeep from Lossiemouth, so we offer him to drive there and then we'll continue to drive around there. It is a bit gray outside but not very cold.
Gate lodge at StonewellsIn Lossiemouth we first have to eat an ice cream that according to Iain is the tastiest in all of Scotland. After the first scope the saleswoman says, however, that there is an even better taste and Teije gets a second bowl of ice cream served up. It is indeed good, but I remember much better...
After we have dropped Iain at the garage we drive further to the east, as much as possible along the coast. Here, too, there are beautiful beaches and yes, also castles. We see two funny gate lodges, but not the castle itself.
Ecological pigs farm Ecological pigs farmWe do however find a few pig farms that take good care of their animals: each pig has its own terrain and a house. Mothers with youngsters clearly have a larger area and everything looks well cared for. Only the males are crammed together, but after all they have only one goal in their lives. Well, 2, because at the end of it they are also eaten.
Rocky beach, Spey Bay BirdAt Spey Bay the beach is not as sandy as the map suggest, in reality there are mainly sharp rocks. We continue along the coast and stop near Sandend where there should be a castle somewhere: Castle Findlater. A bird tries to lure us away on the walk and flies for two kilometers ahead of us. It is a very tricky path and so we find Findlater a lot later than expected.
Ruins of castle Findlater Ouch, plants that stingOnly a narrow footpath gives access to the cliff on which the remainder of the Findlater castle now stands. On the one hand of course a very strategic place, on the other you think: why put a castle here? In the turbulent Middle Ages, however, it was important to protect your clan against others because clan wars were almost daily routine. Meanwhile, Teije is fighting his own war in the distance with the very thorny thistles that cover the country here (and a little later with all the ice in his stomach, fortunately there are enough bushes in the neighborhood!).
Belltower, DufftownThrough Keith and Huntly (beautiful town, we have stayed there once) we drive to the west again. At Dufftown our navigation gets confused when we want to drive to Balvenie Castle. According to the navigation system, we are almost on top of it at a certain moment, but we do not see anything in the environment at all. We will probably drive past it next time.
Glen RinnesWe are now in the middle of Spey Side, the area where most of Scotlands whiskey distilleries are. In Dufftown we already see four referrals: Glenfiddich, Glenlivet, Balvenie and Aberlour (but there are a few more). The rivers that flow from the mountains in the Grampian Mountains provide the fresh water that is used for the Scottish water of life. Many of these distilleries were created because the fame of the illegally fired whiskey from this region became known in the rest of the kingdom and a few tried to take advantage of it by starting a legal distillery.
The old bridge of Livet Pausing at the waterThe river Livet is best known because of the whiskey with its name. We stop at the old 16th century bridge of Livet which consists of 3 arches. Next to the parking lot are a few nice houses, of which one is for sale. We speculate that the residents are tired of the inconvenience caused by tourists like us who stop to take pictures.
Gate lodge at Bridge of AvonAt Bridge of Avon we see our next gatekeeper's house, maybe it belongs to Ballindalloch castle. That must be very nice, but it is almost evening so we will visit it another time. We now first go back to Beauly because we know that other Dutch people arrive today, who are members of our Scotland forum and it seems nice to meet them in Scotland itself.
Near Advie Near AdvieBut on the way our attention is distracted by the beautiful vistas and buildings that resemble castles. For this little castle near Advie we drive for miles, just to get a good view of the building. In the end we are near the entrance gate and a small old car drives on the terrain. We fantasize that the owner has so many debts because of his spacious house that he has an office job and must drive in an old decrepit car to save money. Well it happens that we are willing to take over his castle for a small price ...
ChurchA little further we see a nice building from the car but it is busy on the road and we do not see it well. We drive back and forth twice because there is not really a parking place and a lot of traffic. When we finally can stop it turns out to be an old church that also could have stood in Normandy, probably roman style. We do not know much about building styles, but we usually recognize a beautiful building when we see it. And when we see a turret, we are very happy.
It takes a while before we are back in Beauly but when we walk into the pub we see that Wilma and Luuk have already arrived. From Iain and Cathy we knew they would come and we saw them once before, at the first meeting of our Scotland Forum last year. Because we share Scotland as a big passion, we have a lot to chat and it is great fun. But Cathy tells us at some point that dinner is served first.
We get good food again tonight: pork with a lot of fat on it. We think of the animal-friendly pig farms that we have seen today and Cathy tells that this pig has also been bought from a farmer who gives his animals a lot of space. She prefers to buy meat there because there is always so much bacon. Well, for us they could have left the fat parts behind and we explain that our stomachs are not used to so much fat... Usually we are a few pounds heavier after we leave here, but that also means we are well taken care of and that Iain and Cathy are good cooks. And we appreciate that, except for the greasiness.
After dinner we spend a nice time in the pub. Great if you can feel at home in a place like this!


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