Over the last two days we have driven down to Edinburgh through the Cairngorm Mountains and stopping overnight at Callandar.
Before leaving Ballater, we took a walk around the town which has quite a bit if history. Like other rural towns in the mountains, it opened up once the railway arrived. It was by train that Queen Victoria travelled to Balmoral. It was also the station from which the Tsar of Russia arrived, and was walked to Balmoral, some 8 miles away by the local population carrying torches. Today, it is obvious that the town supports the Royal Family with shops such as this one proudly displaying its Royal Warrant.
On leaving Ballater, we followed the River Dee upstream. It was very scenic and in a couple of places, we could see people fly-fishing in the river. Further, after Braemar, the river flowed through a broad valley and at the point we turned around, it ran through a very narrow gorge at Linn of Dee. It Iwas raining and cold (again), but we enjoyed the scenery.
We again, had quite a scenic crossing through the mountains and we aimed to have lunch in the little town of Pitlochry. Being a Bank Holiday weekend, everything was very busy. We decided against our first choice for lunch at the Pub & Brewery at Moulin because there was simply nowhere to park within 700 – 800 metres. Instead we ended up finding a parking spot at the very end of Pitlochry and eating lunch in a rather ordinary cafe. Some of that choice was not only determined by the availability of parking, but also by the fact that as soon as we left the car, the heavens opened with a torrential downpour and any place close by looked very attractive. It has now rained for some time on virtually every day that we gave been in Scotland.
After lunch, we continued on through intermittent rain until we reached our B&B in Callandar.
This morning, we had a quick visit to Stirling Castle in Stirling (obviously), which is surrounded by its rather quaint old town. There is a very interesting cemetery near the castle and some of graves / monuments tell quite a story. There are a number of graves of local soldiers killed in WW1 and one other very elaborate memorial to an 18 year old woman who was executed in the 1700’s because she refused to become a Catholic.
Outside the castle, there is a very grand statue of the namesake of my fellow Vietnam Veteran Robert Bruce. I must ask him if he is related.
Before arriving in Edinburgh, we made a stop to photograph the Firth of Forth railway bridge and then continued on into the city for lunch.
We spent some time this afternoon walking up the ‘Royal Mile’. This is the name given to the stretch of High Street that leads up the hill to Edinburgh Castle. There are quite historic places along the way, but it is very tourist oriented. There were quite a number of buskers and at first, when I saw a couple of women with a harp and fiddle I thought that I must be back in Ireland. however, true to form, there was a piper in a doorway who clearly showed that I was still in Scotland.
Coincidentally, the last time we were in Edinburgh, we decided to book some accommodation ahead as it was a bank holiday and we wanted to be sure of a place to stay. Here we are again on a bank holiday and we are staying in the same place!