Tuesday 23 July 2019
Well a Nautical Nomad blog with a difference this time, as it is a mixture of a land-based trip together with an element of sea travel by way of CalMac ferries on my way to my favorite island Barra. A very much last-minute trip with a frenetic afternoon yesterday struggling to get ferries and hotels booked up for this week as the western isles are popular with the Barra Fest, or Fais Bharraigh happening this weekend. This is a festival of traditional Music ,held on the edge of the Atlantic Ocean on Tangasdale Machair looking out towards Canada.
So, the reason for the last-minute arrangements, was that originally, Jamie (my Son) had scheduled in this week for a bike trip north, stopping at Glenmore Lodge near Aviemore and going as far as Ullapool. As things turned out and because of an important contract we have for servicing delivery vehicles for a very large supermarket company and a significant increase in the amount, and geographical spread of the work, Jamie thought it better to remain in Dundee. Therefore, why waste the accommodation already booked and the extremely nice weather forecast, hence the reason for the rearranging that went on at the last moment, yesterday.
So, day one of my trip to the Outer Hebrides and last minute catching up at the office and looking out on quite heavy skies before I head North. What has happened to the nice weather forecast?
I started traveling at 09.30 still under very ominous dark skies, but before long the Sun made an appearance leading up to a very warm day, and by the time I reached Dunkeld the temperature was 70F ( 20c, for those who can’t remember doubling it and adding 30 ) I decided to stop at Dunkeld for some belated breakfast. There is a lovely Square in Dunkeld with a fountain supposedly donated by the tenants of the Duke of Athol in his honor, which means that he no doubt erected it there himself using their money.
Anyway, most of the buildings in the square date back to around 1689 when the town was all but destroyed during a battle between the Jacobite Army and the clan Cameron who were government supporters and religious zealots. This happened several weeks after the battle of Killiecrankie which took place a few miles north of Dunkeld coincidently on the 27July 1689 a few days from now ( plus 330 years). The battle of Dunkeld was indecisive but as the leader of the Jacobites , John Graham of Claverhouse had been killed t the point of victory a few weeks before at Killiecrankie, the uprising petered out shortly after.
So, after finding the only parking space available in the square I took some photos then went in search of sustenance, finding a nice-looking café in the road leading to the 11 th century Abby which sits on the banks of the river Tay. I was surprised to find the place empty but when I looked at the menu, I realized the possible reason for that situation as the prices were extremely high, with a sandwich costing just under £8 and a tea just under £3. It is a pity that some establishments in popular places charge such high prices. I decided I would not encourage this and left, but not before, very politely explaining why. As a tour operator I am used to seeking out the places that clients will receive value for money and not simple taking people to places where food or goods are overly expensive in the expectation that commissions will be received.
Leaving the square, I went up to the main street and tried another restaurant to find the same situation there and once again left. There was a café next door to that one and the prices seemed reasonable, so I ordered a Bacon roll, pot of tea and finished up with a scone with butter and jam all for under £8, the price of only a sandwich in either of the other cafes. So, beware if stopping for refreshment in Dunkeld.
Suitably refreshed I was back on the road, the A9 to be precise but no sooner had I crossed the bridge over the River Tay built by Thomas Telford in 1809 and started on my way up the A9 than I decided to veer off and stop at the hermitage. This involved a half mile walk to the waterfall and viewpoint. The viewpoint dedicated to Ossian, a hermit who at one time lived in the area in a cave. Great walk and some nice photos.
Back to the car and once again on my way up the A9, the main artery up the spine of Scotland to the North. This originally a military road, built after the 1719 Jacobite uprising by General Wade. The same General Wade that is featured in the “British” national anthem. “God Save The Queen” where he is encouraged to “crush the rebellious Scots”. Nice to have a Union of equals, isn’t it? Although Wade is given the credit for building this Military road, it was a Major Cofield who was actually in charge of the works.
So next stop Killiecrankie, about another 15 miles up the A9. I was going have to get a move on as by this time it was into early afternoon and I had only came about 50 miles , but I had not been to Killiecrankie for a number of years and it had played an important part of Scottish history. The visitor Centre was closed, and a notice told me that it was only open at the weekend, disgraceful and all down to the National Trust for Scotland who own the Center. I will be writing to them as it is almost as if they are trying to suppress Scotland History, oops I forgot, the president of NTS is Neil Oliver who has a habit of twisting history to favor the union on his TV shows, perhaps this explains this weird situation.
So, onward and I decided to stick to the back roads, the old A9 which passed the 1689 battle site and indeed the stone that marks the place where John Graham of Culverhouse (Bonnie Dundee) fell, mortally wounded. Had he not been killed that day this country would have been a different place today and I am sure he would have led his Jacobite army south to once again defeat the forces of William of Orange and probably Scotland would never have joined the Union in 1707.
So, heading north with a stop for photos at the Dalwhinny distillery before continuing through Newtonmore and Kingusie before finally turning off just short of Aviemore and heading through Column bridge and by loch Morlich, arriving at Glen more lodge.
Glen More Lodge is a Centre or outdoor sports offering many courses on activities such as mountaineering, navigation, orienteering and waterborne sports. It is a comfortable sporting hostelry offering a good standard of basic accommodation with breakfast for a reasonable amount. It is situated a half a mile from Loch Morlich where many of the water bourn sports take place and a few miles from Cairn Gorm where there is a ski Centre.
After I checked in, I donned my small rucksack and headed towards loch Morlich in very hot conditions, but to a point, sheltered by the trees which form one of the few remaining natural forests in Scotland, consisting mainly of Scots Pine.
Loch Morlich has one of the few beaches bordering an inland Loch and as you can imagine it was very busy today. After a visit to the beach and a further walk through the woods, perhaps about 4 miles in total I made my way back to the lodge.
A very welcome shower and a visit back down to the Loch shore for a bite to eat, this time by car. Back to the lodge and a nice pint of Stella, good Belgian beer.
So tomorrow I
head for Oban, quite a drive, overnight in the Alexandra hotel and then the
boat to Barra on Thursday. Let’s hope the weather keeps up.