Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Scotland Day 6 - Castle, Whisky, Gorge, Waterfalls, Loch Tay

We were sad to leave the Boat Hotel, but at least the drive through the rest of the Cairngorms was picturesque enough to alleviate some of the pain. Our first destination was Blair Castle, which is a giant white washed castle with some pretty amazing grounds. We were still fondly remembering Eilean Donan though so instead of going inside this castle, we just got tickets for the gardens and had a stroll around. This worked out well, especially when we came across these:
Highland cow! The best part about Blair Castle.
That's my favorite picture, but there were actually 5 or 6 of the cows scattered around. They are as adorable as can be, with their shaggy bangs and dopey personalities. The walled garden was worth a look as well, except for the vicious swans standing guard over their babies (I stayed far far away).

Another brief stop was made at Killiecrankie Gorge as it was on our way to Edradour. We didn't spend a lot of time there, but did walk down to get a view of Soldier's Leap, where the story has it a solder jumped across the River Garry while being pursued.

A was clearly distracted by the thought of whisky though so he hurried us along to "Scotland's smallest distillery" which turned out to be informative and charming (though it didn't change my mind about how foul the actual drink is).
This is worth a lot of money. Don't ask me why.
Wee car!
After a tour and tasting (and a souvenir whisky glass each) we went to Pitlochry to have a look around. I'd heard a lot about the fish ladder from the guidebook, so we set off on foot to find it. But before we got there, we met this guy and his dogs:
He pointed us in the right direction and so we managed to find it, but didn't see any salmon swimming upstream (though others claimed they had seen some large ones just a little before we got there). Pitlochry's main street was attractive and lined with shops selling tourist stuff. But soon our parking time was up, and we decided to go to the Falls of Acharn for a walk before dinner. It's a lovely, one hour circular walk (but be warned, it is quite steep uphill for half of it). The best place to get a view of the waterfall is actually through the Hermit's Cave (so don't just poke your head in and then walk past it like I did).
Waterfalls are always better in real life
Acharn is conveniently located next to Kenmore, a beautiful village on Loch Tay. A had gotten a recommendation for the Kenmore Hotel (and our tour arranger Nigel also mentioned that it's one of his favorite places) so we decided to have dinner there. You can see from the picture below how lovely it would be to have a drink in the sun. Unfortunately for us, it wasn't really sunny so after a quick huddle outside with some drinks, we headed into the much cozier pub area for dinner.
This picture makes the weather look better than it was
I ordered a burger and A had fish and chips, and he definitely fared better than me, so it was a good thing we were sharing! My dad and A's mom had mussels which they both really enjoyed again, and my mom had a bowl of cullen skink, which is basically a very rich seafood chowder.
Burger not worth speaking of
Thank goodness for fish and chips
I believe there was another sticky toffee pudding for dessert here, which was delightfully nut-free, making it perfect for me. I clearly needed a walk after all that food, so my parents and I headed off for a small jaunt on the banks of Loch Tay.
Spot the crannog
As we piled into the car and drove away from Kenmore, the sun broke through the clouds, which almost made us turn back around to see Loch Tay in the dazzling sunshine, but alas, I knew we had some miles to go before we reached Hatton Grange B&B so we continued on, wishing our timing was slightly better.

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