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Around Nairn

Home -> Europe -> Scotland -> Travelogue Scotland -> 11 & 12 September 2018

Tuesday 11 September, around Nairn

The Henry Phipps Institute, BeaulyThe weather forecast predicts a lot of rain, especially in the west. It seems that every year three times as much rain falls on the west coast of Scotland than in the east, so we go two days in a row to the east.
But after our homemade breakfast we first make a long walk through the southwest of the village of Beauly that lies on the Beauly Firth where the Beauly River runs into the sea. The name Beauly would come from the French Beau Lieu (beautiful place) and would have been said by Mary, Queen of Scotland, in 1564 during a visit but in reality probably thought up by the French monks who founded a priory here in 1230.
Boath House, Auldearn Drumduan mill, near AuldearnTo get to the east, we drive from Inverness on the A96, a mostly two-lane road to Aberdeen. The country is much flatter here than in the north and west and the roads are much busier. There are also many more villages and towns and therefore also castles, country houses and other nice buildings. Like Boath House, a country house that is now a luxury hotel, the fate of more of this type of buildings. Like castles, they are expensive monuments to maintain and this way some money is earned. You have to pay a few hundred euros to stay here for a night.
Gatelodge from Moray Estate Front gate of Moray EstateAlong a small country road we come across a gatelodge (or gatekeeper's house) which is scaffolded and a sign indicates that it is the headquarters of Moray Estates, an estate of the Count of Moray and his family. This estate is not the only one that they own but here the family has been living since the 16th century. When I see such a gatelodge I am always very curious about the castle behind it, but usually you do not get to see it and the sign 'private, no entry' does not help. But in reality the castle is a bit disappointing and I find the gatelodge much cozier, more romantic and more fun. Behind it should be Darnaway Castle somewhere and you can find an image of it on the internet.
Muthu Newton hotel in NairnIn Nairn we drive past the back of the Muthu Newton hotel, another castle/mansion that is now in use as a hotel with 63 spacious bedrooms. It was built in the 17th century as a family home but that must have been a big family, although it was then not as large as it is now. Charlie Chaplin stayed here regularly with his family and at an additional cost you can rent the Chaplin Suite. I also read a story somewhere that he reserved the whole hotel once in its entirety but I have no idea whether that is true.
The sea at Nairn The sea at NairnNear the golf course in Nairn we see a view that reminds us of Greece: trees with a beach (which is just invisible behind the hill) in the foreground and a blue sea and clear blue sky in the background with hills in the distance. Only in terms of temperature there is at least 20 degrees difference and there is a chilly wind which makes the picture much more attractive than it really is.
Minigolf in Nairn Nairns fishwifeTo our surprise it appears that we have never been to the sea side of Nairn and we drive as much as possible along the coast, to the harbor and a little further to a park with a minigolf course and at the sea a restaurant where we drink a cup of coffee in the sun. We ask for a small cup but we get a large mug, the smallest they have. I prefer a small cup but worse is that the coffee in the UK is usually very weak, just water with a vague taste of coffee. Luckily I have always nescafe (coffee powder) with me so that I can make it stronger.
At the harbor is also a statue of the Nairn Fishwife, in homage to the fishermen wives who stayed at home but played an important role in the local community.
Dallas Dhu distilleryWe drive further to the east and now take small roads south of the A96 where we encounter more and more whisky distilleries. I'm not a whisky fan, but we are here in Speyside, an area full of well-known and lesser-known distilleries. They are recognizable by the special turrets or chimneys. Except in Edinburgh, we have never visited a distillery from the inside while there are visitor centers everywhere. Teije occasionally likes a whisky but he always has to drive so he can't take samples.
A gatelodge near ForresWe are still a bit south of Forres, according to Teije on a not yet explored road when we see this gatelodge. But we both know for sure that we have previously seen and photographed it. Behind it is a care home but no castle. He should take better care of that map and keep it updated because we have been here before! How many roads will we have to drive twice because Teije does not do his job well enough? But I do not mind that with such nice houses along the road.
Park with memorial monuments at Califer View of Findhorn bayAlong a narrow road at the hamlet Califer is a sign that points to a viewpoint and when we walk there it looks like a remembrance park with mementos for deceased people. It is not entirely clear whether it is a real cemetery or just a memorial site. There are some stones and there are some flowers.
From the hill we can see Findhorn bay in the north and the Moray Firth behind it.
Pheasants on the road at Pluscarden Gatelodge at Pluscarden abbeyIt strikes me that we have seen little wildlife this year, only a few salmon at the Falls of Shin and now a few pheasants on the road but otherwise nothing, not even deer. According to a local 'expert' that is because of the dry summer, all animals are still on the hills and only come to the plains below when the weather is wetter. We have no idea if that is correct, but if there are more water sources at higher places, it could be true.
The Pluscarden abbey Cemetery at Pluscarden abbeyAt the end of Wednesday afternoon we pass the Pluscarden abbey, founded in 1230 by King Alexander II for a rather unknown order, the Valliscaulians. Later the Benedictines took over but after the Reformation it became private property. It was not until 1948 that it was again in possession of the Bendictian order and it is now inhabited again and being restored by monks. A part of the abbey is open to the public and you can make beautiful walks. Or a few days in retreat, there are special rooms for that.
In the evening we retreat to Iain and Cathy's lounge and have a simple meal (macaroni with cheese tonight), but they can make even out of that a top meal and again we eat a plate too much, just because it is so tasty. It is a good thing that we will leave in a few days!


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