The Itinerary

The Itinerary

Sunday, May 10, 2015

May 7, Granton-on-Spey

Thursday, May 7- Day 93 - Granton-on-Spey 

The heat in our room here at the WillowBank Guest House is of the circulating hot water type and that means it is slow to heat and slow to cool down; perfect if you like a room toasty but less so if you like a cool room and don’t mind a cold one until you have to get up. Which brings us to Dick having to get up for certain reasons at 5:30AM. It is bright daylight out and COLD! Once up in this frosty air there is no going back to bed so get dressed!

Now, where to find coffee? The inn is dead quiet and the coffee maker in the breakfast area is cold. Not wanting to presume to make coffee for the whole house, Dick grabs his thermos travel mug and heads for the car. Temperature gauge tells him it is 35F and while the car warms up, he checks on the GPS to see where the nearest Starbucks happens to be! Oh, wishful thinking! It is in Inverness some 35 miles in a straight line and an hour plus driving time. OK, plan B. Local coffee shop or bakery? Downvillage (there is no downtown here) he finds a bakery and a live coffee pot where he fills his mug and buys a fruit scone. Back in the car, he enjoys a cup of very poor coffee and the scone which is marginally better than the coffee! "Beggars cannot be......." and all that! Why can’t anybody make a good cup of strong, flavorful coffee in this world other than Dick and Starbucks?!!

Back to the WillowBank. We have asked for breakfast at 8:30 so Carolyn needs to be up by 8AM. Reluctantly she moves and shows signs of life and we do make our date with breakfast on time. One problem with the WillowBank is that breakfast is served from 8-9AM; a little late for an early start and a little early if you want to sleep in. Breakfast is good and Dick enjoys scrambled eggs with a generous portion of locally smoked salmon cooked into them.

The weather looks iffy but the scenery is great as we head out for our first stop, Culloden Moor, where the clans were devastated in battle during the 1745 Rising. On our drive we run in and out of sleet, rain and sunshine. Ah, Scotland! Cawdor Castle is on our way so we plan to make a stop and the weather is fine when we arrive but we find that there are way to many stairs, etc. for us so we must pass, but still enjoy the lovely drive down a tree lined drive and then past the Castle (in the trees) on the way back out to the highway, The Castle still has a lot of well maintained grounds around it.  On to Culloden through some spectacular country side!

At Culloden Battlefield we find an excellent, new visitor center, film and museum. We get a reasonable feel for what led up to this 1745 confrontation and certainly its result and aftermath. There is not much to see here as the field of combat is an open moor with only one stone cottage that dates from the time of the battle. The museum and film, plus just seeing where it happened is the reason for the visit. It is cold and windy as Dick walks out on the moor but he does not stay long. Carolyn stays in the museum area and visits with one of the docents as she helps school children try out various toys from the day.

We adjourn to the café in the visitor center and get a light lunch and a pin for our little traveling companion before heading on into Inverness and down along the shore of Loch Ness. The weather is improving little by little and we stop several places along the loch to look for its famous inhabitant and to take photos. No Nessie but we do see Urquhart Castle but, again, decline to take the tour due to the stairs involved.

We travel on along the Loch Ness to Fort Augustus and check out the locks on the Caledonian Canal and watch them lower a boat to Lock Ness. Then we drive along the canal and Loch Lochy until we can turn left and back northeast toward Granton-on-Spey driving along beautiful Loch Laggan. This is wild and wooly Highlands country but very pretty as long as you are not trying to earn a living from it. At Ruthven, we locate the ruins of Ruthven Barracks and Dick treks up to them for a look. These impressive ruins result from the burning, in 1745, of the barracks built in the 1720s to house British soldiers who were part of the occupation forces at the time. All that is left are the stone walls of the buildings but you can see clearly how they were built and get a feel for a soldier’s life 270 plus years ago.

Back to Grantown and what is for dinner? We don’t want to go back to the Garth Hotel of last night. The Chinese place is strictly take away but we do find a Turkish (in Grantown?) doner kabob place that has tables. It is clean and our chicken kabob is good but they are doing no business while we are there. However, the fish and chips take away place across the street has a steady stream of customers. The couple seems nice, the food is good and inexpensive and we hope they make a go of it but tonight is not promising.

By now it is getting on toward 8PM and we return to our lodgings where we work on the blog and get ready for bed. Tomorrow we head for the Orkney Islands.




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