After three long days of driving, I was looking forward to something a bit more relaxing. I asked the hotel manager for a late check out and spent the morning exploring the grounds of the castle.
The estate had its own ruined castle (abandoned when the owners realised it would be easier to build a new one than continue to maintain a medieval structure)…..
……and its own loch.
At noon I drove north east up the Great Glen, a long, deep valley formed millions of years ago when the tectonic plate carrying north Scotland crashed into the rest of the British Isles. The glen had many long, deep lochs, but the most famous by far is Loch Less.
I couldn’t see the monster but I could imagine how on a dark day people could mistake the waves on the loch as something living. I did though meet some new friends.
From Loch Ness I reached Inverness, the biggest city in the highlands, before taking the scenic road around the edges of the Cairngorms National Park (more about this in a later post) towards the east and Aberdeen.
On leaving the Cairngorms, the countryside became flatter and greener – almost like parts of England. Consequently, this part of Scotland receives many fewer visitors than the west coast – but as you will see in tomorrow’s post, it still has a lot to offer. My route took me along the pretty river Spey.
This is whisky country, and every few miles I passed distilleries that you could visit. I was tempted to drop in to learn how whisky is made, but since I was driving and since I am only a small teddy with a limited capacity for alcohol, I decided to leave this for another day. I finally arrived in Tarves, a tiny village to the west of Aberdeen, where I had arranged to stay with my old friends, a family of Scottish teddies.
We hadn’t seen each other for a long time. We had an excellent dinner of local meat, washed down with red wine and then whisky, and exchanged seven years’ worth of stories.