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Through Aberdeenshire to Beauly, the Black Isle

Home -> Europe -> Scotland -> Travelogue Scotland -> 14 to 16 May 2011

Saturday 14 May, through Aberdeenshire to Beauly, the Black Isle

Today we are not in a hurry, we already have a place to stay for the next nights because, as always when we are in Scotland, we go to our friends Iain and Cathy in Beauly tonight, only 170 kilometers away. If we were going directly, at least.
Banchory Balmedie HouseBut first we make an extensive walk through the small town of Banchory that seems rather deserted on this Saturday morning. It seems that the city has grown considerably in the last 10 years. Apart from the High Street there are a number of modern squares. When we leave the town we first drive to the northeast, towards the coast. At Balmedie we see this castle-like complex that turns out to be a retirement home with 26 hectares of garden around it. Nice place to get old.
Bomb shelters near Balmedie Coast at ColliestonWe try to drive as close to the coast as possible and occasionally we see hills where bunkers have been buried in the dunes. We did not know that they existed here, so far to the north.
On the west coast of Scotland we actually never saw them but the east coast was of course easier to approach for the Germans. We have no idea if there were any bombings so far north during the second world war.
Coast at ColliestonIn Collieston we take a walk along the long sandy beach. Until 200 years ago this was a prosperous fishing village but now there are mainly commuters who work in Aberdeen. And in the summer it is an ideal place for tourists. In order to better protect the natural harbor, former breakwaters were built and as a result the washed-up sand remained lying on the rocks and so a beautiful sandy beach was formed.
Slains Castle Lighthouse at BoddamDriving towards Cruden Bay we see in the distance the ruin of Slains Castle. It was built on the cliffs along the North Sea and there are plans to renovate it and make apartments in it. But because of the financial crisis, this project is still on hold.
Further along the coast, and we arrive at Boddam where this lighthouse is located. The east coast of Aberdeenshire is quite rough and consists mainly of high cliffs and rocks, sometimes up to 60 meters high. In the 17th and 18th century, when fishery was the main source of income, lighthouses were certainly not superfluous.
Gate at Turriff Gatelodge at TurriffFrom Boddam we finally drive west and stop in Turriff, a small town with a very unique history: the Templars had a base nearby, but a story from 1913 is better known: when a farmer refused to pay to the nationally introduced National Insurance, the sheriff seized a farmer's cow but could not sell it as everyone in the neighborhood supported the farmer. Eventually an outsider had to auction the cow, but during the protests of the local population the cow escaped. Of course a statue for the cow has been placed in the centre of the town.
It is still 150 kilometers to Beauly so now we really have to go into the right direction. Just after 6 o'clock we arrive there and we are warmly welcomed by Iain and Cathy who, besides beds, also have a warm meal ready for us. We also meet old acquaintances, Rachel and John, whom we encountered many times here before. We have not been here for almost 2 years so we have a lot to chat and before we go to bed we have heard most of the village gossip. It has become a bit of a ritual that we will stay here for a few days during every Scotland trip. Our second home.

Sunday 15 May 2011, to the Black Isle

Carbootsale Muir of OrdToday we do not do very much, that is so nice if you have a place that you can call home. And we have been in Scotland so many times and hope that we still come here more often so we are not in a hurry to see anything and everything. First we have breakfast and then coffee and tea with Iain and Cathy.
Together we go to the fair of Muir or Ord, a town that is a few kilometers away. It is fresh outside and after an hour we have seen it all.
Woods on the Black Isle Tombhill on the Black IsleIn the afternoon we drive to the Black Isle, a peninsula north of Inverness. Black refers here to the fertile black soil of the peninsula. But next to farmland there are also many forests and we make a few long walks where we encounter a prehistoric burial mound, proof that this area has been inhabited for a long time.
After a few hours we are back in the hotel where Teije helps Iain with resolving computer problems, that is something he has to do every year when we are visiting, the price for our stay.
There is a big company present and we have great fun after making renewed acquaintances with many of the guests because most come here more often. It is not just our second home, apparently!

Monday 16 May 2011, Shopping in Inverness

Inverness Castle Inverness CastleToday we go shopping in Inverness, the largest city in the Highlands and strategically located between the northeast and the northwest of Scotland. In the 11th century there was already a castle but the city was regularly plundered and there is not much left of the original one. The castle of the present day is used as a court and was built in the 19th century on a cliff overlooking the river Ness. The mouth of the river is nearby, so a monster could swim by.
A break at Inverness Sightseeing InvernessAs the capital of the Highlands it attracts many tourists and there are even several terraces in the city. It is fresh but dry and so we are looking for a terrace along the Ness river. But the tourist buses are not very full and we know the city pretty well so that we do not feel much for a bus tour, way too cold.
We walk through the city and visit some nice shops. Teije wants to buy some books in his favorite second-hand bookshop, which also houses a lunchroom. Every time he finds a pile of new, old books. I prefer to read Dutch myself.
Loo of the year 2011I am more often looking for toilets! The Scots seem to have awards for everything and that's how I end up at the Eastgate Shopping Center in this 5-star award-winning WC. It is a clean and spacious toilet but to give stars to it .... Strange guys, those Scots. But there is no village or town that has not won some award. In Fife even every village has a place name plate stating whether they have been rated as gold, silver or bronze. But that has more to do to promote tourism.
Unicorn and Eagle statue, InvernessOn the new Falcon square is a 12 meter high statue of a unicorn. The lion and the unicorn are symbols of the United Kingdom, with the lion representing England and the unicorn Scotland. The combination dates back to 1603 when King James VI of Scotland also became King James I of England. It goes without saying that the two animals can not really get along well.
In the background another restaurant where we like to sit outside when the weather permits.
New t-shirtIn addition to books, Teije has also bought some t-shirts, preferably with funny texts. This appealed to him: Good boys to heaven, bad boys go to Scotland!
After another short drive along Loch Ness (no, again we do not spot a monster) we drive back to Beauly through Drumnadrochit. Teije installs the new PC that we bought for Iain and restores the WiFi network so that I can be online again. Afterwards we have a chat with Iain, Cath, Rachel and John and this time we are not in bed that late.


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