Scotland 1988
 
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Mavis M Green
Scotland 1988
1930s Stourbridge Map
Still, still with Thee
 

 

 

Diary of a Trip to Scotland in 1988

by Mavis Green

July 23rd.

Left Maisemore 6.30.a.m. Overtaken on M6 about Alton Towers, by Reliant in the fast lane doing about 80.m.p.h.! Stopped at Motorway station at Burton-in-Kendal at 10.30.a.m. for brunch. 12.12. Crossed the border – we’ve arrived in Scotland! 12.55. Stopped Beattock summit for lunch- lost milk! Joan ate it? 2.15. Stopped Hamilton – loo and ice creams. Packed out! 4.0 Arrived Comrie – house very comfortable and well laid out. Smashing modern kitchen. Went into Comrie to investigate the area. Bought fish & chips for supper. Very miserable drizzly rain but an interesting village with a babbling river and fascinating hump-back bridge near the cottage.

July 24th.

Woke to a very dull morning but it improved with keeping. John went to the local Church of Scotland service which he said was very well attended (150 people). Nice church, organ, music and friendly people. Walked down to meet him and get papers. Sunshine and showers by now. Lovely view of the river and mountains from the bridge. Back for lunch, then off about 1.45.p.m.. Drove to Loch Earn and went by rural South Road – narrow road with passing places – to Lochearnhead – on up Glen Ogle. Stopped at viewpoint to see mountains. Streams rushing down or springing straight over the top in spectacular waterfalls. On to Killin. Stopped to see the Falls of Dochart and take pictures. Rain bucketed down so M & J sheltered in a woollen shop – T in toilet, and J chased back to car – he was 4 trees away! Drove up Loch Tay, but no views because of torrential rain. Cut across Strath Appin and on to Tummel Bridge, passing a deer farm with plenty of deer, with and without antlers. Weather started to improve slowly! Went up Loch Tummel to join the Pitlochry road. Found Pitlochry very busy – you would not have thought it was a Sunday. Stopped at Dunkeld for a meal (very good service with young waiters). Saw five rabbits gambolling in a sloping field. Glorious sunny views of mountains around. Returned via Strath Bran and the Sma’ Glen – wonderful scenery with sun shining on mountain faces. Best part of the day weather-wise. Arrived home at 8.p.m. to welcome cup of tea.

July 25th.

Woke once more to a wet morning. Very, very windy and most unpleasant. Had to get supplies in so off we went about 10.30.a.m. Decided to try to find a super-market with a handy car park. Drove to Perth and found a Tesco. So windy we could hardly stand! Trees and branches down everywhere. Went out of Perth to find a pub lunch and stopped at Glencarse (a very picturesque Episcopal Church here) and had a good curried chicken dish, followed by ice-cream. Then, much refreshed, on to Dundee to see the “beautiful silvery Tay” (brown, seething soup!) and the rail bridge in a gale-force wind. A train teetered across slowly whilst J, T & J battled their way along the sea wall. Decided to head for home, calling in at Glamis Castle (“Queen Mum” not there, to Tony’s disappointment!) Weather improving by now – blue skies and occasional rain spells. Had a very interesting guided tour of open rooms of the castle – a most beautiful set of vestments in the exhibition room – and after a browse in the gift shop for cards – John – book - Mavis - teaspoon, - we had a welcome cup of tea in the refreshment room which used to be the vast kitchen, with ovens all round the walls. Drove home and the weather closed in again and rain welcomed us back. A pleasant encounter with the cottage owner, Paul James who told us a bit about the cottage’s history. So ends Monday with T.V. for a while.

July 26th

Raining first things again, but not so windy. Packed a lunch bag and set off about 11.30 a.m. Stopped at St. Fillans for groceries and envelopes, then up Loch Earn to Lochearnhead, up Glen Ogle again and then to Crianlarich, a railway junction, one line to Oban and the other to Fort William. We then headed for Tyndrum and branched off to Bridge of Orchy, passed Loch Tulla, and stopped for lunch at a spectacular view-point on the Black Mount. A coach-load of Spaniards jumped out and jostled to have their photos taken with the view as a background – all right as long as they didn’t step back too far! Over Rannoch Moor – very bleak and windy with occasional heavy showers, and on to Glencoe – very awesome and beautiful with waterfalls rushing down the slopes, and boiling rivers. Stopped briefly at the National Trust Centre and walked over a small wooden bridge with the river running head over heels down a narrow gorge. Down to Glencoe village and visited the Episcopal Church – St. Mary the Virgin - a lovely small church with a beautiful embroidered pulpit fall dated at 16th/17th century. Met the Rector and his wife and introduced ourselves. Had cups of tea and biscuits in the Church Hall. Raining hard again as we left for Ballachulish and across the new bridge, up Loch Linnhe to Fort William. The clouds disappeared quite well from Ben Nevis. It was sunshine and showers weather now. Once more a pleasant evening as we passed through Spean Bridge and headed up Glen Spean, past Loch Laggan where we stopped to photograph the dam. Stopped again at Dalwhinnie for another snack meal. Tony inspected a war memorial and bought Joan a bouquet of heather and Scottish bluebells. John had to get petrol to enable us to inspect the plumbing (£3 for a wee!) Then homeward bound over Drumochter Pass and down the new A9. Passed Blair Castle at Blair Atholl and managed to photograph it from a convenient lay-by. By-passed Pitlochry and turned once more into Strath Bran at Dunkeld. On through the lovely Sma’ Glen – a second treat – and home again. We had hoped for fish and chips, but found the shop closed¸ so “les Ladies” got busy and soon had a hot meal on the table. 210 miles in all!

July 27th.

Much brighter first thing, but rain arrived as usual later. Letter arrived about Findhorn accommodation at last! Hooray! What a relief! Now we can enjoy the rest of the week here. Set out at 10.45.a.m. with packed lunch etc. to Lochearnhead and photographed highland cattle in a field. On then to Callander (land of Dr. Finlay’s casebook) “Tannochbrae” – round a back road and on to Loch Katrine. Heavy rain storms here, but managed to walk part way to view the Loch. Saw steamer about to sail off down the loch. Had snack lunch here and then on over the Trossachs to Aberfoyle, on to Drymen and Balloch, up Loch Lomond, where extensive road improvements were in progress, so making viewing a little difficult. Rain still poured down. Stopped at Ardlui for ice creams, then up Glen Falloch to Crianlarich, and in Glen Dochart photographed a large herd of highland cattle . Back down Glen Ogle and home, by which time rain had stopped. After a meal, Tony and Joan walked to find the fish farm and ended up doing a six-mile hike back home. John and Mavis enjoyed a concert of Highland music and stories in the Comrie Public Hall.

July 28th.

Dry when we woke up, but soon started to rain again (just for a change!) Left for Crieff about 10.30.a.m. and went via the South Comrie Road which brought us to the bottom end of the town. Looked round shops etc. for about an hour, but still wet, so went to the Visitors’ Centre where we first of all had an excellent lunch. John persuaded Tony to be initiated into Scottish food – haggis, neeps and tatties. He survived and said he enjoyed it. After looking round the gift shop we watched paper-weights being made – very interesting. Afterwards we visited the Stuart Crystal Works where we watched decanters and vases being blown into moulds and afterwards being etched and sand-blasted. Joan bought a pretty little specimen vase. Still pouring with rain so we went for a short drive from Crieff to Muthill, and past the Gleneagles golf courses to Auchterarder, then back to Crieff and eventually to Comrie via pleasant side roads. We had a very welcome cup of tea with Aberdeen “butteries”. Still raining – one of the wettest days we’ve had. The owner of the cottage, Paul James called and we had a pleasant chat with him. If we come again, he recommends that we contact him direct – it’s cheaper!

July 29th.

“Hooray!” We woke to blue skies and sunshine which has continued all day! Marvellous! We decided to visit Edinburgh, so made an earlier start – 9.30.a.m. saw us getting ready for the off. At last we have been able to take pictures of the cottage and surroundings. Mavis saw a fleeting glimpse of a deer streaking across the road near the cottage and up into the woodlands behind. The other three didn’t really believe it, but M is sticking to her guns! We went to Edinburgh via Crieff, Auchterarder, Gleneagles and down Glen Eagles, which was very picturesque. It was so clear that the landscape rolled away into the distance. Then on to Dunfermline, down Glendevon, and on to the Forth Bridge. Good view of the railway bridge too. Stopped at cafeteria for coffee and to view the bridge. On into Edinburgh and parked near Prince’s Street and went down Waverley Steps to the station where we had a snack lunch before walking back into Prince’s Street gardens where we saw the floral clock etc. Very warm sunshine – no coats for a change. Back to the car and toured round the old buildings and eventually went down the Royal Mile. We tried to park at the castle but with the tattoo imminent, no luck, so we drove the arena and out again. We parked near Holyrood House and viewed the exterior and bought a guide to read. Then it was time to do battle with the traffic once more and head for home. Over the Forth Bridge again, and came back through Kirkcaldy and Glenrothes. Stopped outside Ladybank for tea and biscuits and then over the Tay Bridge and through Dundee. So home via Perth, Crieff and Comrie. Home by 6.p.m. After a “breakfast” meal we started to get packed up ready to move off to Findhorn in the morning. A good ending to the first week’s holiday.

THE SECOND WEEK

July 30th.

Left Comrie 9.30.a.m. in pouring rain. Through Crieff and on to Perth to pick up the A.9. Straight up the A.9 in very murky weather and fairly heavy traffic and stopped for lunch etc. at a picnic area just before Newtonmore. Branched off the A.9 and went through Grantown-on-Spey and over the Dava Moor to Forres, and then to Findhorn. Found bungalow easily and quite impressed – so different from Victoria Cottage at Comrie. After settling in and a fish supper we walked along the beach and back through the camping site into the village and then along the village street. Called at the Culbin Hotel for a drink before going home. Marvellous sunset, so hope it’s a good omen for tomorrow.

July 31st.

Woke to a lovely blue sky and sunshine. Magnificent panorama of mountains and seascape. After breakfast went to the 9.30.a.m. service at St. John’s Episcopal Church in Forres. Very good atmosphere. Young curate with sense of humour. Afterwards we walked about the town, bought papers and viewed the floral gardens. Back to Findhorn for lunch and afterwards we walked out along the beach and dunes. Went for a drive after tea/supper to Hopeman where we walked round the harbour, and most unusual, a hymn-singing group consisting mostly of men!. Drove on to Lossiemouth and back to Findhorn through Elgin.

August 1st.

Rabbits! Heavy rain in the night, but woke to a dry but dull morning, but improving. After breakfast we went into Forres to stock up on groceries and came back for coffee. J&M went to local shops for postcards etc. and then back for a quick lunch before setting off for '‘whisky country'. Through Elgin and Glenriach distillery – Queen Anne brand – on to Rothes and the Glen Grant distillery, Craigellachie and the White Horse brand and then to the distillery capital – Dufftown where we we saw four distilleries – Convalmore, Glenfiddich, Allte-a-Bhanne and Glenlivet, which was also at Tomnavoulin. We went on to Tomintoul where we saw snow on the mountains. We saw the whisky shop there where there were a hundred or more different brands of whisky on sale. From Tomintoul we took a very steep mountain road called the Lecht. We saw a deserted ski-lift on the way. Very dramatic scenery all the way. Stopped for tea. Raining pretty heavily now and decided to go to see Balmoral Castle. Down to Crathie over an extremely humpy bridge over the River Don, but no view of the castle there. Drove towards Braemar and turned back after a while and got a good glimpse of the castle through the trees as we drove towards Ballater. Stopped for petrol at a quaint pub/petrol station with a porch supported by painted, lopped tree-trunks. Then we headed home via Rhynie and the Cabrach, Dufftown and Rothes. Stopped to take pictures of highland cattle in hotel grounds, and on to Elgin and so to Findhorn. Another day of changes of scenery and surprises. Arrived back to sunshine once more. P.S. Two more distilleries at Dufftown seen on the way back – Mortlach and Longmorn.

Aug. 2nd.

Bright sunny morning with a keen wind. T&J went to shop for papers and heard about a seal. Soon afterwards we saw it bobbing up and down on its way out to sea. After breakfast, T&J went for a walk along the beach. J went into Forres etc. and M went a walk round the village and to shops. For general exercise of the arms, M bought a Yo-Yo. Great stuff! After lunch we went into Forres and climbed Nelson’s Tower and viewed the landscape. Down into the town once more. Tried to get a P.C. of the Tower but not successful. Drove out towards Inverness and then turned off the main road and went past Brodie Castle and on to Dyke, then down twisting lanes to the Culbin Forest. Unable to get to the shore. Returned to a lay-by where J T & M followed a path to the River Findhorn and met a Scottie dog with a thyroid problem. Joan said it was going to be a Dobermann but the Scottie came over the horizon. Back to the bungalow and the weather turned cold. After tea we had a game of scrabble during which we saw a large eagle-like bird hovering and diving for fish. Was it an Osprey or a Fish-Eagle ? Tony and Joan won the Scrabble – our turn next time!

Aug. 3rd.

Weather dull but clear when we woke and decided to take a trip round the Loch Ness area. During breakfast we saw oyster-catchers on the shore. We packed some food etc. and set off at 9.30.a.m.. Stopped in Forres for John to buy a jacket he had had his eye on and got it at a sale price too! On to Inverness and out round Loch Ness by the southern road amongst some moorland scenery and several small lochs. Stopped by a babbling stream where John collected some peaty water. Stopped for lunch before we joined the main road at Fort Augustus where we stopped to see the locks on the Caledonian Canal. There were five locks and quite a lot of craft waiting to go through them. It drizzled a light rain on and off. There was quite an interesting exhibition of local craft and the history of the canal and area to look at. Next we went to Drumnadrochit where we had tea and shortbread in a nice little café. Very welcome! After this we branched north over the moors (1 in 7) and over to Beauly, Muir of Ord, Conon Bridge and finally to Dingwall.. We walked about the town and bought some Scottish Mutton Pies and a “Plain Loaf” – good Scottish food! We came back to Inverness over the new bridges of Cromarty Firth and Kessock, both very imposing. We parked the car beside the River Ness where a fisherman was standing right in the middle of the water. Climbed to the Castle and looked around. Afterwards took a walk round the shopping area. Back to the car for a snack meal and then returned to Findhorn after a very varied day. We did not see the monster but we saw a Loch Ness stoat!

Aug. 4th.

Dull and dry when we woke. T, J & J went into Forres for shopping but M Shopped locally and prepared lunch. After lunch we split up and M went for a long walk round the village and beach whilst T & J walked the other way along the beach. John went once more into Forres to collect photo’s.. Very warm and bright sunshine. Hardly any breeze. All arrived back to a very warm bungalow. Threw open windows and drew curtains to cool things down. All refreshed with “Cornetto’s”. After supper tried to contact Paul at Low Fell regarding future accommodation and succeeded eventually. Quite a warm evening still.

Aug. 5th.

Heavy rain during the night, so John said. Morning dull but warm and very windy. T & J spent morning around Findhorn. M & J went to Forres to do final ‘shop’. Purchased haggis for T & J. After lunch a man came to mend windows. J, T & J went for a drive in the direction of Lochindorb. Stopped at a bridge over the Dorbeck Burn where the water looked like Guinness, froth and all! Then up to Randolph’s Leap. Parked at the side of the road and took walk through the woods to a deep gorge of foaming brown water and large boulders. J saw a dipper . On to Lochindorb. J &T saw a red squirrel running through the woods. Lochindorb very barren, set 1000 ft. up on heather-covered hills and very windy. Waves causing surf on the loch. Back down the mountains and heading home, stopping alongside the River Spey for refreshments and then back by minor roads to Forres. Back at the bungalow M had tea nearly ready. Packing has to be done – on the trail home tomorrow via Newcastle.

Aug. 6th.

Up early to finish packing. During breakfast saw a stoat chasing a wagtail in the front garden before running out of the front gate.  Left Findhorn 8.15.a.m.. Travelled via Perth and Edinburgh. Traffic hold-up at Dalkeith. On over very undulating Roman road (A.68) to Wylam and Joan’s relatives. On to Low Fell to Paul & Betty. Spent an evening catching up on family news.

Aug. 7th.

Left Low Fell 9.15.a.m. Picked up J & T at Wylam and started for home 10-ish. Followed the Alston road from Hawick to Penrith – very hilly and twisty. Made an unsuccessful detour in search of lunch at Carnforth, so ate warm rolls. Very hot and sticky weather. Joined the M.6 and so to Worcestershire where we had a very welcome high tea at the Little Chef at Hartlebury.

On to South Cerney. Final hold-up by traffic diversion of Gloucester traffic on to Cheltenham road at Stratton. Home via Seven Springs.

Arrived at 10.p.m. Pretty creased!

© The Estate of William John Green, 2004