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.


  1. what a beautiful country Scotland is, and the age of so many buildings! nothing here, of course, is 500 years old. who's getting married? somehow I missed that. best wishes to all.
    BTW I'm glad to see you're doing well, at least I presume you are with this trip. lovely Jo's feet in such clear water! our river running through Muncie is named White River, but its color is brown.

    1. It was my nephew - GB's son - Gaz or Gareth.
      The rivers in the Highlands are so clean and clear except where they run through peat which turns them brown. The water in one of our stays was quite brown but nothing like GB's when he first moved the Western Isles.

  2. The most fantastic of your photos is of the Hedge, so old and redolent of history. What a story. You had a nice destination for the wedding.

  3. It looks as if Jo is standing among a stream filled with gold nuggets. And I love that Washington rang the bell! Did you know that in our family, we've always felt it was good luck to have a teddy bear in the car? My parents had years and years and miles and miles of trouble free driving with a bear in their glove box. We have one too. I never named him but maybe I'll call him Pensby! Makes him sound quite aristocratic, don't you think? ;) xoxox

    1. Oooh I love the name Pensby for a bear!

    2. I'm sure any bear would be honoured to be called Pensby! I'm now thinking of naming my nameless bear, Pensby.

    3. Brilliant name, DeeDee.

  4. How lovely it all is -- and how wise to travel the byways and see the land!

  5. Each and every photo is stunning! I feel like I'm on tour with you! I love that little cottage with the picket fence near the road. It really says "Scotland" to me. So much history and the beautiful castles. Their age make this country seem like a baby! Ashland will celebrate 200yrs next year...just a drop in the bucket compared to these sights! Oh how lovely is the place where the wedding was. It must have been so fun to stay there! Thank you for the postcard I received today! I was so excited! Made my day!

  6. Thanks for allowing me to enjoy Scotland with you and Jo! I would have done the same as Jo, I would have "paddled" in that clear water too, but I bet it was cold.
    Glad I have made it to the Mansion with you! Now, can't wait to see what happen next!

  7. Thank You for a grand Tour

  8. You were lucky with the weather and made the most of it. A grand set.

  9. This was a combination of what I like most in a blog post - great pictures and a lot to learn and think about. Thank you!

  10. Well you've put me to shame CJ. I haven't travelled some of those roads for thirty years or so. I shall remedy that over the next few years.

  11. I am so glad that you took a "slight" diversion on the route to the castle...what lovely countryside sure are making me feel quite excited about visiting Scotland.
    That hedge is incredible and all the lovely castles and historical stuff along the way, thank you CJ for taking me along.

  12. I'm glad you got fine weather for your journey north & so many lovely views & interesting places :)

  13. Blue sky in Scotland. Now that's something! Beautiful.


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