Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Scotland - last days

After 5 days of severe stomach problems and with no more drugs left, I resorted to dear old mom's remedy of a days rest complete with chicken soup. By day seven the stomach is starting to get back in order but a bland diet is in order for a few days.

After a nights rest in the B&B in Inverness we were off back to Glasgow. We decided to follow the Scottish tourist route from Inverness to Braemar 'a land of superlatives'. It is the highest and most mountainous parish in the UK, with each of its 182,000 acres being more than 1000ft above sea level.

The area contains within its borders some 24 Munros, or mountains of over 3,000ft, with three over 4,000ft. Believe me the little rental car worked hard on these mountainous and in some areas very narrow roads. It has the highest 18-hole golf course in the country, and shares with Perthshire the Cairnwell Pass, at 2,100ft the highest through road in the country, which on the Braemar side passes through the Glenshee Ski Centre. Also in this area over 100 years ago Queen Victoria purchased Balmoral Castle as a summer residence which the Royal Family still uses today - in 1856 the original castle, deemed too small, was demolished and rebuilt. So I may not have seen Nessie but maybe I will see a Royal!

I highly recommend the Scottish Tourist drive as the scenery is spectacular and for those who like to hike there are lots of opportunities in this area. In 1996 when I visited Scotland with my mum I took her to Inverness - as I was driving the road to Braemar I realized we had followed this road at that time, I even recognized the little cafe where we had stopped for tea in 1996. Maybe my memory is not so bad after all.

Stop for coffee in a wonderful little village - homemade baked goods yummy (thank goodness my tummy is feeling better - so much for bland diet)

Coffee shop my mum and I visited in 1996


Notice the deserted buildings in these pictures - most likely deserted crofter homes. Crofter is term used, more particularly in the Highlands and islands of Scotland, to designate a tenant who rents and cultivates a small holding of land or croft. A croft is a small agricultural unit many crofts are on estates. A landlord may have many crofts on his estate. The rent paid by the tenant crofter, except in fairly rare circumstances, is only for the bare land of the croft, for the house and agricultural buildings, roads and fences are provided by the crofter himself. Since 1976 it has become more common for a crofter to acquire title to his croft, thus becoming an owner-occupier. The reason why these crofts are deserted is because up until 1886 crofters were subjected to unfairly being removed from their land. Since that time a number of Acts have been passed guaranteeing fair rents and allowing them to claim compensation for improvements should their tenancy come to an end.
It had snowed two night before we drove through this area
During some months of the year you can go on Balmoral Castle property for a tour (not actually in the castle just the grounds), but unfortunately not October as the royal family is in residence. However I was very excited as we came to the signs for Balmoral Castle - just a glimpse of Will and Kate would be very exciting. As we approached the castle grounds I realized there was no chance of a glimpse of the castle as you cannot view it from the road, the grounds are massive and completely fenced (not that I was contemplating trying to get on the grounds without an invitation) and you are not allowed to stop on the road beside the property. So I had to settle for seeing the Royal gates and the river where they fish between the road and the grounds - no pictures as I have not mastered driving and focusing a camera at the same time!

Off to the town of Braemar - maybe a Royal sighting in the village! No such luck but we did see one of the Royal butchers and I guess this is where they buy the Royal Haggis!

Don't think this is a Royal!

Royal view from village bridge

Braemar Village


Well there may have been no Royal sightings - but then again maybe I passed them on the highway but was concentrating too hard on driving!

Last day in Glasgow was time to do laundry and visit with family. Enjoyed my last night with Auntie Mary, cousin Pat with wife Debbie and daughter Hannah, cousin Joe, cousin Elaine with son Sandy, cousin Rosemary and daughter Roisan - thank you Rosemary for having everyone to your house for dinner.

Something I found out is that not only was Hannah my mother's name but also my grandmother's name and of course is now my dear little granddaughter's name.

I think my mum would be pleased that have taken the opportunity to visit and experience a good majority of her homeland with the area covered on this visit, plus on previous visits to Scotland I have been to St. Andrews, Perth ,Dundee, Aberdeen, Stirling andEdinburgh.

Thank you Rosemary for having me in your home and being my back up Sally SAT NAT (GPS in North America).

Off to Ireland!

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