The Itinerary

The Itinerary

Saturday, May 9, 2015

May 6, Edinburgh to Grantown on Spey

Wednesday, May 6 - Day 92 - Edinburgh to Grantown-on-Spey 

Once again, Dick is up early and is forced to watch BBC with news of Thursday’s election. This is worse than a US election because you do not know the issues or parties involved.

After breakfast, we load up (it is misting rain again) and follow the ring/loop road to the Firth of Forth bridge and head north. We see the work on the new bridge that is suppose to open in 2016, but right now they are working on the supports for the cables; no road work yet. Soon it is clearing and we make good time as we head for the Scottish Highlands. The morning is spent enjoying the scenery and a walk around a cute little village to stretch our legs and exercise the credit card...Carolyn finds two fleece vests on we drive, generally, toward Balmoral Castle.

In and out of light rain, we head up and over some hills that are 2,000' MSL and at that summit is a ski run. There does not appear to be any place to stay nearby so it must be just for day tripper use. This is wild and barren country. Several of the roads we take are one lane with passing spots every several hundred yards. The drivers that we meet seem to know the game and there is no difficulty. Many bridges are very old and one lane also. We stop at one to read the plaque that explains it is a military road bridge built in the 1740s. It is still in use with no limitations as to weight but there has to be a width limit and it is definitely one way. The sign also lists other bridges that were built by the military in the area. Some of the bridges like this have signs to indicate who has the right of way but they are also, in many cases, hump backed to the point you can’t see the other side. So, you proceed with caution and hope the other fellow does also. There is also an interesting old church and graveyard beside the bridge...Carolyn is a sucker for these.

We have lunch in a hotel for a smooth 18GBP and that is no deal for two brie and cranberry pannini sandwiches and drinks. Food is ridiculous here! The village is on the River Dee and has a fancy resort even though the hotel is old.

Next we arrive at Balmoral Castle which is open, at least the grounds and the ballroom, to the public from April through June. At the ticket house (everything has a ticket in the UK) we determine that the walking involved would be too much for what can be seen so we elect to move on. We do get to meet the royal squirrel! Across the road is a Church of Scotland Kirk that was attended by Queen Victoria and is now attended by the royal family when they are at Balmoral. It is interesting and the two pounds "donation" to get in, is worth the price of admission.

Now we are heading to our stop for the next two nights, Grantown on Spey. The GPS puts us on a five mile section of one lane road (with passing spots) that takes us up and over from Balmoral to the North. It is an interesting drive and the views are spectacular with snow capped mountains in the distance and wide, high, barren valleys all around. Of course, we see many castles and manor homes during the day also. Even with some sleet, snow, a little rain and a lot of cold it is a very pleasant drive!

We arrive at the WillowBank Guest House in Grantown-on-Spey, an 1858 coaching inn, set about six feet off the main road through town and just down from the village center. We are met by the couple who own it, people from Belgium with strong accents, but they are very accommodating and arrange for us to have dinner at a local hotel. That experience is OK and the fish and chips are fine but the price is way high, nearly 50GBP! We do get serenaded though. The room is small and clean but there is no place to work so Dick goes into the parlor/office of the inn and works on this blog and posts expenses to Quicken. Sometime after 9:30PM we call it a day, get our showers and settle into comfortable beds under plenty of cover as it is in the 40s outside and the hot water radiators do not do a particularly good job as they seem to be either too hot or too cold.

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