Friday 24th September
Route – M8, M9, A84, A85, A82
Left Edinburgh about 9:30 and headed west. Walked up the Devil’s Staircase on the north side, the path eventually ending up in Kinlochleven. Weather cold but clear. Up in 38 minutes, down in 29. (Glen Coe = the Glen of Coe / Glencoe – a village at the end of Glen Coe)
Camped at the Red Squirrel Campsite in Glencoe, a 10 minute walk to the Clachaig Inn. £8.50 a night with a few showers and toilets in old portacabins. Allows campfires and has access to the river which runs along the side of the campsite. thankfully no midges due to the cold.
Walked round the Glencoe Signal Rock followed by a pint in the Clachaig Inn. It was busy, but no real atmosphere.
Saturday 25th September
Route – A82, A9, A96
Woke to find ice on the tent. Heard it was minus 3 degrees C overnight, and car temperature outside alert was +3 degrees C at 10am.
Drove up to Urquhart Castle on the banks of Loch Ness. Allow at least 90 minutes to visit. Has a decent visitors centre with a video presentation of the history of the castle. Car park can become full during tourist season and this was the third attempt this year to visit the castle. Citylink busses to Inverness seem to stop at the castle. Good views up and down Loch Ness.
Then up to Fort George which is on the other side of Inverness. Allow at least 2.5 hours to visit as it’s quite a large place. Signs ask visitors to have minimum stuff with them as you are liable to be searched as it’s a live military barracks.
Stayed in the Inverness Tourist Hostel overnight. Although it’s website says it has a free car park it doesn’t. £11.50 a night, good city centre location, but above a noisy nightclub. Cheapest car park in Inverness is next door – £4 for 24 hours,
Spent most of the night in Johnny Foxes. Live band from 10:30pm which were good but didn’t seem to do requests.
Sunday 26th September
Route – A9, A96, A940, A941, A98
Dallas Dhu Historic Distillery – shut down in 1983 and passed to Historic Scotland which reopened it as a visitor attraction in 1988. It no longer produces whisky. Unlike other distilleries you can take photos throughout. Free sample of the Roderick Dhu blended whisky which ceased production in 1983.
Elgin Cathedral – allow 30 minutes. Nothing special
Spynie Palace – allow 45 minutes.
Stayed in the Banff Links Caravan Park – £5 a night and right on the beach. the park is owned and run by Aberdeen Council and has a couple fairly decent facilities blocks. Didn’t know where the pub was unfortunately. Rather noisy at night due to the sea.
Monday 27th September
Route – A98, A97, A920, A941, A95, B970, A9, B8019
Huntly Castle – Still has amazing engraving on the brick work. Very clear to see. Allow 30 minutes
Balvenie Castle – one of the only castles that has the full boundary wall still intact. Not the easiest to find due to the poor signage through the local village.
Glenfiddich Distillery – free! Allow 90 minutes. About 200 yards from Balvenie Castle. Short video presentation followed by a tour round the brewing and fermenting process. Photos are allowed for most of the trip unlike other distilleries. At the end of the tour sample the 12, 15 and 18 year old Glenfiddich whisky.
Cairngorm Funicular Railway – £9.25 for an 8 minute journey up a hill, and 8 minutes back down. Nothing to see at the top due to the low cloud cover. Wouldn’t bother again unless the weather was crystal clear.
Evening meal at the Old Mill in Pitlochery. Nice atmosphere and good food.
Camped at the Loch Tummel Caravan Park. About 10 meters away from Loch Tummel with a small beach. Good facilities.
Tuesday 28th September
Route – B8019, B8079, A9, M90, A912, A90
Killiecrankie Woodland National Trust property. 2 Mile walk, returning vie the main road. £2 for the car park. Saw a wild snake for the first time ever on the footpath. Walk back along the main road using a narrow footpath was rather scary though given the 60mph speed limit.
Pitlochry Hydro Electric Visitors Centre and Fish Ladder. Free! Saw a real live Bill Oddie making some tv program in the power station.
Lunch at McKays Hotel, Pitlochry
Elcho Castle – Near Perth. Building in excellent condition but down a farm track and through a farm.
Note for future trips – get a sat nav!