After a good night's sleep and a hearty breakfast (I didn't partake of the haggis and the fried food) we assembled at the front of the hotel at 9.30 a.m., for our first excursion of the weekend. Keith, our driver for the weekend, did a quick head count (there were only 26 of us on the coach including a four year old boy called Andrew who was an absolute joy) then we set off for the railway station at Aviemore, where the Strathspey Railway
is based. For those who don't know, Aviemore is a small town on the edge of the Cairngorms. I've put together a little slide show of photos taken at the station. If you look carefully on the last two you will see me on the footplate of the train through the steam!
We boarded the steam train which took us to Boat of Garten, a peaceful Highland village set amongst heather clad hills and native woodland. Lying adjacent to the mighty River Spey in the Cairngorms National Park, Boat of Garten lies in an area of outstanding natural beauty, centrally located in the Highlands of Scotland.
Here's MWM and I on the train.
then onto Broomhill
, which was the location of Glenbogle
, used in the filming of the TV series 'Monarch Of The Glen'
After our train ride we were supposed to have a free afternoon back in Carrbridge but because the weather was drizzly Keith (the coach driver) decided to take us for a drive round and stopped off at Speyside Heather Centre
at Skye of Curr, Dulnain Bridge, which was just beautiful. We had a pot of tea here, along with a sandwich for me and a 'clootie dumpling' with fresh cream for MWM. A 'clootie dumpling' is a traditional Scottish fruit pudding or cake. The clootie was often made on a special occasion, especially a birthday and wrapped coins would be placed in the uncooked mixture then individually wrapped in organic unbleached muslin. The clootie would then be 'skelped' or smacked by each person in the family to form it into a nice round shape in the cloot (the muslin wrap), the person whose birthday it was being the last to skelp it. The dumpling was then simmered gently in the cloot, resulting in a moist, rich treat for that special occasion. Suffice to say he enjoyed it. They had all sorts of things for sale not just plants, there was also a lovely little wildlife sanctuary in the centre where we stopped for a while looking at the birds.
After an hour of looking round we set off to Grantown-on-Spey, a traditional Highland town on the River Spey 14 miles from Aviemore on the northern edge of the Cairngorms National Park, where we spent a happy hour in the bar of a local hostelry! We boarded the coach again for the ten mile journey back to our hotel, where we had a short rest before getting ready for dinner, which was a Scottish buffet that evening as it was a Ceilidh (pronounced Kayleigh). The formality of a Ceilidh can vary - some mix modern pop music with a Scottish country dancing band and dress codes range from compulsory highland dress to informal. This one consised of a young man playing the bagpipes and a young girl dancing, plus a traditional Ceilidh band and the MC dressed in the tradition kilt.
Join me next time for our next excursion in the Scottish Highlands.