Scotland – 5 – Heading Down
Our shortest hop between sites to date and the beginning of our return journey back to Cornwall. We headed south. Bonar Bridge to Grantown-on-Spey-on-Spey took us back down the A9 across the Cromarty Firth onto the Black Isle then across the Moray Firth. Grantown-on-Spey site was the opposite to Bonar Bridge in that it was in the town, a large site with cabins, mobile homes and pitches for tents, caravans, motorhomes. It had 2 lots of facilities for the site and we were on a “super pitch” with satellite TV and the loan of a satellite box to pick up numerous channels – which we barely watched. I’m not a Wimbledon fan and I have to admit and was annoyed that the BBC had it on both BBC1 and BBC2 most of the afternoon/early evening. One channel fair enough, but not both. A moot point as we weren’t wanting to watch much TV anyway – a filler when cooking dinner. Grantown-on-Spey is a really nice site and within 10minute walk to the town centre.
We were in Grantown-on-Spey for my birthday and although the day was overcast we headed over the top along the Cockbridge/Tomintoul Road (usually heard during the winter road reports as being shut due to snow) to Balmoral Castle – the summer holiday spot for Her Majesty the Queen and family. I enjoyed our visit which is mainly in the grounds as the only room they open is the Ballroom which is the largest room in the castle. The castle closes to the public at the end of July as HRH goest to Balmoral in August. After the castle we drove into Ballanter the nearest town to Balmoral where many of the shops hold Royal Warrants.
In the evening we walked the short way to town. Neil had made reservations at The Wee Puffin. We had a lovely meal. It was only a small place with about 25 covers and it was a good job Neil had booked as they turned away as many people as they could seat.
The following day we went for a tour of the Cragganmore Distillery. This is a small distillery not too far from Grantown-on-Spey. There were just 5 of us on the “3 drink” tour. The other 3 participants were an American family who had been sat on the table next to us in The Wee Puffin. It was a really interesting tour and I’m glad we did a small distillery rather than a large one. Our tasting took place in a beautiful old room with furnishings from when the distillery was originally started. We tried 3 whiskies, well I didn’t really as I don’t like whisky, and Neil was driving. Chris our guide explained the tasting notes to us and for those of us not drinking, which happened to be all of us, we had little bottles to take our whisky away. A great idea, particularly for the drivers.
I have a new favourite castle. Yes already. Ballindalloch Castle was in the same village as the distillery. In fact the distillery was the estates own. Again really friendly and knowledgeable staff so happy to share their personal stories of the castle. This is still a family home and the grounds are fabulous. I loved the flower arches, more than 20 of them, the rose rock garden and the mown lawns were fabulous. My favourite though was the walled garden. It was quite large and beautiful with a water fountain in the middle. The scents as you walked around were heady. Roses mainly but so many scented flowers and beautiful trees which I thought were olive and was surprised they would survive but a gardener working in the garden told me they were ornamental pears, often mistaken for olive trees. I’ve started a list of things I would like in my forever home – turrets (big here in Scottish castles/houses), a walled garden and a craft room.
We only had three nights at Grantown-on-Spey and all too soon is was time to head south again.