July 22 – Perthshire

AberfeldySleep-in today we slept late. The shop in Glengoulandie doesn’t open until 9am and we wanted to have a shower. When we had showered we packed the car and drove to Aberfeldy to continue on to Pitlochry and a few distilleries (Blair Athol and Edradour).

Our first stop was in Aberfeldy at their Distillery, our first real visit to a distillery. Lennarth bought a bottle of Aberfeldy and Patrik bought a pack containing three small bottles from Aberfeldy. We then drove to Blair Atholl distillery and looked in their shop. Lennarth bought a Blair Atholl and a Dailuaine. When we were ready we went into Pitlochry for lunch and bought some food. Patrik followed advice from Lennarth and bought some local beer to try in the evening.

Patrik alone at the bar in Edradour DistilleryAfter Pitlochry we drove to Edradour, this was really a tourist trap.. Big busses, small roads, but the distillery was fine. Patrik tried a 13 year old Edradour Sherry Cask in their bar. There was also a purchase of the same in the shop and a dram glass. When the shopping was done we headed north towards Blair Castle. Terese and Patrik went in while Gun and Lennarth went into the castle gardens. Terese found it exciting to go in a genuine castle and experience the atmosphere. Blair CastleIt was also great to get the chance to see and touch the furniture and other things from 15th century and onwards. When Blair Castle was done we drove to Ardverikie Estate, alias Glenbougle House from the tv series “Monarch of the Glenâ€?, on the way we stopped at Dalwhinne distillery even though we knew it was closed, just to have been there. We met a Swedish couple who had recently been at the distillery we were on our way to. They said we have an incredible journey in front of us.

LagganAfter Dalwhinne it was the winding roads in the Scottish highlands that was ahead of us. When we came closer to Laggan we started to wonder if we would find Ardverikie Estate, so we stopped and asked in a shop in Laggan. We got directions from a very helpful shop owner but before we could get the directions (which were complicated) he had to drive a relative an errand and left us and a local person alone in the shop, he came back within 5 minutes. We were informed that we would have to go 5km to reach the house , but we could take photos from the other side of the loch. It was the latter alternative we took. We stopped at a parking place exactly opposite the house but with a lot of trees in the way, so we climbed down to the lakeside to take some photos. After taking photos we continued towards Invermoriston, which lies on the west coast of Loch Ness, where Lennarth had earlier in the day telephoned the camping site to see if they had available pitches. When we reached the Loch Ness Caravan and Camping site it seems all the pitches were taken but the kind manager got us a caravan pitch with electricity at the same price as two tent pitches. The first pitch he showed us was gravel, which would have been ok, but then he found a pitch with grass which was much better. It sloped a little but we slept soundly.

July 21 – Edinburgh

Edinburgh CastleEven this day we were up with the rooster. We wanted to be at Edinburgh Castle as near to opening time as possible (9.30). We äte breakfast, did morning chores, parked the car outside the camping site and took the local bus into Edinburgh Town Centre. We went through Princes Street Gardens and up to Edinburgh Castle. We were pretty early at the castle and there was hardly any queue waiting to get in. We started the sightseeing tour through the castle in the shop which lay directly inside the castle walls. Mons Meg, the One ö’clock gun, little battlement, Chapel the Scottish Crown Jewels, the Great Hall and lastly a look in the castle itself. The Royal MileThis took us up to lunchtime. At lunchtime Patrik took The Whisky heretidge Centers Tour which he didn’t think very special as he had already read a lot about whisky in the book (given out by the Whisky Heretidge Center) Lennarth had previously given him. Even though he was smiling over the whisky taster glass he got on the tour his disappointment showed through. While Patrik was on the tour the others were in the Old Town and had a bite to eat, so Patrik had to contend himself with a Spicy chicken Panini when he came out. We went to St Giles Cathedral where Gun wanted to see the Thistle Chapel. After St Giles Patrik managed to convince the others to go in The Royal Miles whisky where Patrik bought three whiskies, a Dailuaine, a Mortlach and a Clynelish for £68.
Royal Mile Whiskies tastingThen it was time for coffee at a Starbucks a little way down The Royal Mile. Then we walked the rest of the Royal Mile before we turned for home. On the way to the busstation Terese wanted to take out money, but the £150 she wanted to take didn’t come out the machine. Panic. Had the money been withdrawn from the account. It would be a later problem, to contact the Swedish bank. When we reached the car at the camping site we were all very tired, but we pleasantly sat ourselves in the car and drove towards Perthshire over the Firth of Forth Road Bridge. We drove past Perth on the City Pass and landed quite unexpectedly in Pitlochry, Lennarth filled up the car with petrol and bought some bread for breakfast. Patrik ran away to take photos of Blair Athol distillery. Here is where we are going tomorrow. We drive on to find a camping site. It doesn’t look too good as it seems all the Scots drive out to the Scottish highlands over the weekend, so all the camping sites are fully booked. Suddently we find ourselves on a lot of small roads up in the highlands on a road which actually just stops, but so long we don’t drive, we choose another road which takes us towards Aberfeldy which seems to be the nearest alternative for camping.

GlengoulandieHalfway we come across the village of Glengoulandie which consists of two houses and a camping site they have a pitch for us but only if we only stay one night. Of course that is what we would do. A little pleasant camping site right in the Scottish highlands, Lennarth was in seventh heaven. Later we noticed there was even a deer, they even had peacocks. A very enjoyable stop over it turned out to be.

July 20 – Arriving in Great Britain

We awoke quite early on the boat, but we had gone to bed early. As usual Lennarth was up first. After showering and getting ready we ate a simple breakfast in the café on the boat. One orange juice and a cheese roll. By 11.00 CET, i.e 10am we docked at Newcastle, it took some time to disembark from the boat.

Alnwick CastleWe chose a fast road out of Newcastle and were quickly on our way towards Alnwick.. We intended to look at the castle (which appears in both Robin Hood and in Harry Potter) but after some discussions we decided that there wouldn’t be enough time and we all wanted to see Rosslyn Chapel (last stop for the day) so we chose to stop in Alnwick, eat a quick lunch and look at the castle from a distance. It cost money to get close up. We gave up the idea to look at Alnwick Gardens, Gun and Lennarth will try to look at other gardens during the trip.

Melrose AbbeyAfter a quick look at the castle we continued towards Melrose Abbey, on the way we drove past two border abbeys, Kelso Abbey and Dryburgh Abbey. Melrose Abbey was a fantastic experience that something so old could still be standing. At Melrose Abbey we paid in order to get a closer look. Patrik borrowed a small tape recorder and if you followed the instructions you had a tour around the church.. We also climbed up in the tower and took some photos of Melrose and the surrounding area.

Rosslyn ChapelAs we were content with the visit we got in the car and drove towards Roslin and Rosslyn Chapel, by Peebles. During this part of the journey both Terese and Patrik’s eyes were becoming quite heavy so we took ourselves fortywinks . We were awakened to help Lennarth find Rosslyn Chapel.

Rosslyn Chapel: Same stairs as in The Da Vinci Code MovieWhen we came to Rosslyn Chapel we were just too late for the last tour of the church, so for half price we got to go in. This visit made it cheaper than Melrose Abbey and a lot more to see so we joined the tour which was very good, many funny comments from the guide. Gun and Lennarth went off to explore on their own. After the round trip the mandatory questions came up for discussion as what did or did not agree with the Da Vinci code. There was no David Star and no rose line either, but the stairs used in the film exists so Patrik posed proudly while Terese took photos.

When we had completed the visit they closed and we went back to the town Roslin and took a coffee-break at a restaurant/hotel/pub which we saw on the way to the church. Lennarth and Gun took a coffee, Patrik took a Guinness and Terese at last got a Magners (Bulmers) that she had been longing for since she had been in Ireland.

First night in ScotlandWhen all the glasses and cups were emptied it was time to look for camping site. We started towards Mortonhall which has a camping site, it was very nice but a little expensive but it was near to Edinburgh. This would be where we pitched our tents for the night.. The girl gave us lots of information about how we could get to Edinburgh by bus the next day. We pitched the tent down in the corner of the camping site where we had been allocated. Out came the cooking utensils as we hadn’t had a proper meal all day. Patrik managed to get connected to internet with his wireless computer, it turned out it was the camping sites connection but you had to have a code to log in. During the trip we discovered that Scotland is full of wireless connection points, approx. 5 per town. During the evening we discussed our itinerary and came to the conclusion that it would have to be changed. We would arrive on Islay on Sunday and not all of the distilleries would be open, this did not please Patrik, so we made the relevant changes so that in the afternoon of day 3 we would not drive to Kennakreig but to Perthshire.

Now we are going to absorb all of todays impressions. It will be Edinburgh tomorrow.

July 17 – Leaving Sweden

On the boat to ScotlandIt starts today. We are going to Scotland! We got up just after 5 o’clock so we would have time to get ready before getting in the car to travel to Gothenburg and the boat. During the journey Patrik got the chance to play with Lennarth’s newly purchased computer toy. A GPS-receiver for the AutoRoute programme, it lets one use the computer as a GPS. It worked so and so as it lost contact with the satellite. To make sure the computers battery could be recharged Lennarth had bought a transformer so the battery could be charged through the cigarette lighter contact. At 10o’clock we drove on the boat, then we wandered around looking for our cabin which was a little difficult to find. When we found our cabin we went and took an early lunch and then it was down to the Tax-free shop. Patrik met a few Scots in front of the Whisky section and started up a conversation. They thought the Whisky was expensive in the tax-free shop, which after a little calculation showed that they weren’t completely right, they calculated Swedish crowns to £1 = 10 Sek. When we had been in the tax-free enough times we went to the pub. Lennarth and Terese took a cola, Patrik took a Guinness and Gun tried a San Fransisco and an Irish coffee. Lennart sang along with the singsong. When we got tired of listening to the old music we went down to our cabins and retired for the night.