Tuesday, 26 August 2014

Scottish Holiday – Day Three – Friday at Achnagairn


This is day three off our Scottish holiday and it was largely spent moving from one of the lodges into the main house at Achnagairn, saying hello to some of my nephew’s relatives as they arrived, meeting some of his future bride’s relatives and waiting around in nearby Beauly for a doctor’s appointment (long story!).  When I was first told of the location of Achnagairn – near Beauly – I said ‘The main thing I remember about Beauly from my trips through it are the wonderful lichens on the trees.  Nothing has changed.  The grounds of the mansion had some fantastic examples.


 Because of a mix-up over my tablets one type of tablet did not make it to Achnagairn with us.  As a result we had to visit a doctor in Beauly because it was a controlled medicine and the pharmacist couldn’t just dispense it on my doctor’s say-so!   The advantage of this was a visit to one of the top 50 delicatessens in the country (according to the Independent newspaper).  Not only did we acquire some cheese for midnight snacks but we also had coffee and a cake there.    


 Here are a few shots of Achnagairn House, the main body of which dates from 1812.  We will start with the view from our bedroom window.  



I wish that woman ironing her wedding dress would get out of the way.  Thank you!



I’m not sure whether GB is showing Partner-who-loves-tea his country estate or vice versa but they both seem quite at home.
 

Let's take a quick tour.


This is the ballroom. 




It was built later than the rest of the house and dates from 1912.  The ballroom was a 21st birthday present from the then owner to his daughter.  I have always wanted a window seat and the series of window seats along the balcony of the ballroom are fantastic.  I could stretch out there with a book and an occasional glance out of the window and be happy for hours on end.



  
Well, Louisa and Alister are preparing the evening meal so I’ll sign off now.  Tomorrow was Gaz’s wedding day.  (Can you say ‘tomorrow was’???)   Fortunately the sun shone on all concerned but you will have to wait to see that….


Monday, 25 August 2014

Scotland - Day Two, Thursday



We only had about seventy miles to go between Bankfoot and Achnagairn, the mansion where the wedding was taking place.   But rather than go up the motorway-like A9 we settled on a ‘slight’ diversion which doubled the mileage.  We left Bankfoot in bright sunshine.  It always makes the scenery so much more attractive.


 



Before long we passed the Staredem standing stones near Waterloo.  This pair of stones sit in the middle of a field in the parish of Auchtergaven.  


They don’t appear ever to have formed part of a circle, being as they are orientated SW-NE, and about 5m apart. 



The NE stone is particularly interesting, as it has an inscribed cross on it, supposedly carved by a passing missionary.  The NE stone is 1.4m tall and the SW stone is 1.3m tall.

This is the Birnam Hotel where Jo has stayed a few times on her way up to the Western Isles to meet up with me and have a brief holiday.   



A small garden nearby is dedicated to Beatrix Potter. 



It was during a family holiday at Birnam that Beatrix Potter first wrote what was to become the famous Peter Rabbit stories.  We didn't know about this garden when we were there; I only found out about it afterwards on a site called,appropriately, undiscovered Scotland.


 We passed through Dunkeld where this gateway leads to the ruins of Dunkeld Abbey.

Everywhere we went there were signs of people’s views on the forthcoming referendum on Scottish independence from the rest of the UK.   We didn’t see many ‘No’s.


The Meikleour Beech Hedge, four miles south of Blairgowrie is the longest hedge in Britain and the highest of its kind in the world.


Recognised by the Guinness Book of Records as the highest hedge in the world, the Meikleour Beech Hedge was planted in 1745 and is one third of a mile long (530 m) and 100 ft (30 m) high.  It is thought the men who planted it were called to fight in the Jacobite Rebellion and none of them returned alive. In tribute the trees were allowed to grow and the hedge acts as a living landmark to them.  The hedge is cut and re-measured every 10 years, a complex operation that takes four men approximately six weeks to complete.

We went up the A93 to Glenshee.   The A93 road, part of General Wade's military road from Perth to Fort George, runs North from Glenshee into Glen Beag, where it crosses the Cairnwell Pass, at 2200 feet above sea level the highest public road in the UK.   The road climbing to the summit is now wide and straight but until the late 1960s included two notorious hair-pin bends with a 1 in 3 (33%) gradient known as the Devil's Elbow. One of the most spectacular roads in Scotland, this was a favourite subject for postcards.


We stopped off in upper Glen Clunie which links the high pass of the Cairnwell with the lowland plain of lower Glen Clunie and the wooded glens of Deeside.    



Partner-who-loves-tea could not resist having a paddle. 


Stunningly set in splendid isolation on a barren moorland, Corgarff Castle’s medieval tower house, built in the mid-16th century, is surrounded by a distinctive star-shaped perimeter wall of 18th century date.    It has reconstructed barrack-rooms which show something of the atmosphere of barrack life here in 1750, when redcoats from were stationed here.


The original castle was built around 1550 by a branch of Clan Forbes. It was typical of contemporary small houses of the gentry throughout the country. Its nucleus was the tall tower house. Above a basement for storage was the family’s main living room, the hall. Their private chambers were above. Around the tower house, within a stout stone courtyard wall, there would have been other buildings, including a stable, bakehouse and brewhouse. The latter have all gone, but the lofty tower still stands.


From the mid-18th century the tower was turned into soldiers’ barracks, through to 1831, when the army abandoned it.  For those 95 years, the redcoats of Pulteney’s 13th Foot patrolled Strathdon from thebold tower, hunting down Jacobite sympathisers. Latterly they helped the excisemen stamp out the illegal production and smuggling of whisky.

The first reference to the castle at Corgarff spills onto the pages of history in the winter of 1571. That November, Adam Gordon came with his men to Corgarff. He was laird of Auchindoun Castle, in Glen Fiddich, over the mountains to the north, and his plan was to capture Forbes of Towie. The Forbeses and Gordons were often feuding. The laird of Corgarff was away, but Margaret, his wife, was at home and refused them entry. And so the assailants savagely set fire to the castle, burning Margaret, her family and servants to death in the process. In all, 27 people perished. The tragedy is remembered in the old ballad ‘Edom o Gordon’ which runs to 34 verses of 17th Century Scots so I won’t repeat it here!!!.

In addition we passed Braemar Castle and Invercauld and at Braemar had a brief chat with Invercauld's very English factor. 



And at dinner time we arrived at Achnagairn House where the wedding was to be held on Saturday.


Washington rang the bell...

We stayed In one of the mansion's lodges on the first night and moved into the mansion itself on Day three.


Saturday, 23 August 2014

Scotland Day One – the evening - Bankfoot, Perthshire



As we were finishing our dinners it became apparent that something was afoot.  Tables were being moved and people were producing musical instruments.  It turned out Wednesday Night is Folk Music night at the Bankfoot Inn.   
 


Anyone is invited to bring along an instrument or a song and the rest of us joined in with the tunes we knew.  The variety of instruments was enormous - there were nine musicians and most had at least two instruments.  There were also some men and women who sang solo pieces a cappellaThe evening started with a Buddy Holly number so I felt quite at home singing along.  The quality of the pictures is not brilliant because I didn't want to use flash as it might have disturbed the musicians.  Relying on the light from the lamps made for very slow shutter speeds.







 Partner-who-loves-tea listening to one of her favourite songs -  The Fields of Gold.

 







Then it was off to bed up the winding staircase of this 18th Century coaching inn.  


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