For our trip around the Cairngorms we decided to park ourselves in Blairgowrie for three days and got ourselves a little cottage in Kirkton of Lethendy – how lovely does that sound? It was obviously the Smithy’s cottage (as that’s what it’s called) and it was really quaint.
We were able to luxuriate in front of an open fire
And it’s been a few days since we had a home cooked meal (when we stayed with Judith and Robert), so Mark had a lovely time doing some cooking. The apple pie came from one of the many bakeries we visited.
We think that the vegetables we’ve eaten here are so much better than those we get at home, especially the brussel sprouts.
Blairgowrie is a very pleasant town, and on a lovely day such as this one, the walk by the river with a little weir and some lovely old buildings here and there was a delight. Just to digress on to the clothes, I am wearing another tunisian crochet jacket (see my yellow one here) – the Anais jacket from Stitch Diva Studio.
There was also a beautiful little walk through a wooded area, with delightful signs like these bats.
Although we had already slipped into the Cairngorms by visiting Aberfeldy and Pitlochry (see previous post) we began the trip proper by driving to Braemar, which has to be one of the prettiest drives we have ever undertaken. We saw snow on the mountains in the distance and passed through glens and farmland, with lambs aplenty.
Braemar is a delightful little village which is ringed by mountains. It is a hop and a skip to Balmoral, but we didn’t give the Queen any of our money, so no photos were taken. From Balmoral we went to Ballater, which is famous for its spring water, which is bottled (in plastic bottles) and is supposed to be curative. It has a beautiful old railway station, the Old Royal Station, which is its main tourist attraction, but which burned down in 2016. It has been rebuilt quite well, and the town itself is very sweet, with a couple of beautiful hotels built, I think, in the Scottish baronial style.
Just out of town is a castle which from a distance looks as if it is covered in peeling pebble dash! It’s just a small one, but the surrounding low, castellated wall was quite interesting. Defenders would have been able to see the whites of their attackers eyes from here!
This little structure is in the grounds and I much prefer it to the castle. I fancy one of these at home!
A drive north through the mountains is a wonderful rollercoaster of a road, which is fairly treacherous as it’s single lane and we frequently rounded bends to find someone coming straight at us. This road is the first to be closed when the snow comes apparently, so it’s pretty high. The road leads to Tomintoul (pronounced tom-in-towel) which is yet another pretty, stone-built village. Apart from the history and the prettiness this is yet another village from which hikers fan out across the countryside.
We continued the drive through Ballindalloch, and truly, these villages are beginning to blur as they are all full of these lovely little buildings, such as these.
We passed through Nethy Bridge, another popular destination for hikers and tourists. It’s on the River Nethy and sits in the middle of an ancient Caledonian pine forest, a marvellous spot for some quiet contemplation.
There is an osprey centre at Loch Garten, and another beautiful open forest of Scots pine, which is very well known for bird watchers to see the nests and watch the birds feed their young. We’ve both seen this before so we pushed on because our next stop was one I was very much looking forward to. We were meeting my Instagram friend Janet from @sewdalriada. It is always special to meet Instagram friends in real life, and Janet is certainly no exception. She has her sewing room in an old telephone exchange in her garden, and it’s a joy inside and out.
Janet’s posts often feature her husband (Mr D) and Frank, her adorable little dog. I was thrilled to be able to give Frank a cuddle – just look at that face!
We had the loveliest catch up, drinking tea, eating delicious cakes, and chatting about everything, including sewing. Janet gave me a spurtle for stirring porridge, which was immediately claimed by Mark and he tells me that it’s far superior to a spoon and he now only stirs his porridge clockwise because, according to the label, this keeps the devil away!
We had one more day in our little cottage and spent the day walking and relaxing. The walks around the cottage were easy, although hilly, and the views over farmland were spectacular.
We tramped through woods carpeted with bluebells and generally had a lovely time until we got back to base when I realised that the Me Made May badge that Judith had given me had fallen off my jacket. We had to redo the entire walk retracing our steps to see if we could find it – about twelve kilometres were walked all up. Needle in a haystack job? Well yes, except that Mark found it! I was so relieved and happy. I now check it obsessively as I hate to lose anything that is a gift.
Next we are headed to the Upper West Coast of Scotland, from where we’ll begin our homeward journey towards London.