Alice's Adventures in the Highlands

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Shakey
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Alice's Adventures in the Highlands

Postby Shakey » Sat Aug 30, 2014 6:35 am

of Scotland that is.

First let me introduce Alice; "Alice Goot" to give her full name (alles Gut! - see what I did there? :roll: ).

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This is our first proper multi-day trip since modifying her to cope better with my painful hips - Rox Speed racing bar risers, SW-Motech lowered pegs and a Touratech comfort seat (bought new from Germany for a lot less than through a UK supplier - go figure).

It was also the first proper run on my new Pilot Road 4 tyres which I recently finished running it. I cannot recommend these tyres highly enough compared to the standard equipment metzeller Z8s which were good. Tracking in bends is really confidence inspiring and wet weather grip is excellent!

I wanted to visit further out west than I had previously done so although the route takes in two high passes - Glenshee and The Lecht (both ski centres) - I didn't stop for photos. On my bucket list were Bannockburn Battlefield (700 years ago this year); Loch Lomond; Glen Coe; Fort William and Ben Nevis; The Great Glen and Loch Ness; Culloden Battlefield (where we equalised the score from Bannockburn to 1-1) and Aviemore.

Day 1 - Aberdeen (near Milltimber) to Dunblane via Bannockburn.
Day 2 - Dunblane to Ft William via Loch Lomond, Rannock Moor and Glen Coe.
Day 3 - Ft William to Inverness (Culloden) then back down och Ness to Drumnadrochit.
Day 4 - Drunadrochit to Home via Aviemore and the Lecht.

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I'm certainly no great travel writer or photographer so I hope you'll forgive the basic report and scant pictures that follow.
Last edited by Shakey on Sat Aug 30, 2014 8:25 am, edited 1 time in total.
Martin
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Shakey
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Re: Alice's Adventures in the Highlands

Postby Shakey » Sat Aug 30, 2014 6:52 am

Day 1.
It's Scotland and I've got a day off so therefore it's raining.
Never mind - just wait 10 minutes and it'll change.
The ride along the south bank of the River Dee to Balmoral castle soon dried up and judging by the Bobby on duty at the gate I guess Her Majesty is in residence for the summer as usual.
Forking left at Braemar (usually one of my favourite stops but too many coach parties today) the ascent to Glen Shee ski station was fast and swoopy - I think I need a camera fixed to the bike with a remote shutter button! I've never seen the Glen in sunshine before (see, I told you the weather would change) and the riding is good. Sadly, one of our bretheren lost his life the following day on the same road in an incident with a road roller. What the hell a road roller was doing up there is anybody's guess.

The next surprise was that my planned stop at the Spittal of Glenshee hotel for a cuppa and a warm-up had to be cancelled on account of said hotel being destroyed by fire! Oh well, press on then.

After Lunch in Blairgowrie, my next stop is the Bannockburn Battlefield visitor centre.

In 1314 (nearly a quarter past one), Robert the Bruce's forces gave the English a right old whoopin!
You'd think he'd look happier about it.....

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With the 700th anniversary this year, the visitor centre has been turned into a 3D video / armour suited battle master / get yer hands on this bit o ancient weaponry interactive experience which has to be booked in advance. Absolutely superb!!

Whilst nobody actually knows the exact location of the battle, this year's focus has seen small finds which appear to be horse bridle decorations right near the Burn (stream) where most of the English knights on horseback perished. The monument is beautifully done though.
The "Borestone" where Bruce planted his standard was found on this spot.

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Talking of Bores.................

Onward to Dunblane (lets not get started on gun control) and a wee Bed and Breakfast place Where I soon lowered the tone by parking at the front door :D

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I know what you're thinking but actually it was pretty cheap and probably the most uncomfortable bed I've ever not slept in :(
Last edited by Shakey on Sat Aug 30, 2014 8:29 am, edited 1 time in total.
Martin
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Shakey
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Re: Alice's Adventures in the Highlands

Postby Shakey » Sat Aug 30, 2014 7:22 am

Day 2.

With my head now firmly out of Work / Study Mode I realised that I had dropped a planning clanger. It turns out to be a "Bank Holiday weekend" which means that the roads are going to be chocka-block full of tourists! AAAAARRGH!

So the Wee Bonny Banks of Loch Lomond became the Muckle bloody traffic jam of Loch Lomond so at the first opportunity I turned left and headed into the hills away from the Loch and into Glen Douglas. Now I wish I'd been brave enough to take some pictures here because what started out as a singe track tarmac road in a beautiful, remote and quiet glen was suddenly coloured by the appearance of a very heavy duty fence alongside the road. It turns out I'd stumbled across (according to post trip googling) Europe's largest store of conventional military weapons!! They get trucked on a private road down to Loch Long (see bike picture above) for transport by sea.

The other thing Loch Long is noteable for is tourist twee-ness

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and Gulls (well it is a Sea loch)

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Re-joining the Main road

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carried me along through the approaches to Rannoch Moor and thence into GlenCoe which Is just stunning. I stopped at the visitor centre to catch a few pictures of the surrounding Munros.

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At this point, the heavens opened and my last 20 miles into Fort William were in torrential rain.

I'd loosley termed this trip "Caledonian Canal" as from this point I would follow the route of this canal through the great glen into Loch Ness and out again to Inverness; So my lodgings for the night were at the foot of the flight of Locks known as Neptune's Staircase at the utterly brilliant "Moorings" hotel (on the left of the photo).

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Ben Nevis was playing hard to get....

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Martin
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Shakey
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Re: Alice's Adventures in the Highlands

Postby Shakey » Sat Aug 30, 2014 7:49 am

Day 3.
The Ben has got his hat on..........

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Actually, you can't quite see the summit from this angle as it's a way behind what you can see and is hidden by perspective.

Before heading of up the great glen I took a 25 mile round trip detour to see a certain piece on 19th century architecture. Glenfinnan is famous for two things.

Thing 1. It's supposedly where Bonnie Prince Charlie landed and planted his standard to kick-off the Jacobite rebellion. The location is beautiful and a tourist clad monument exists at the head of Loch Shie;

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It's also where said prince hightailed it out of Scotland after a whooping at Culloden but more of that anon.
These days, this fundamental piece of Scottish history has been upstaged by something built in 1879 not half a mile inland from the monument;

There it is; in the distance....
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No? OK then; a bit closer....
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Recognise it yet?
OOhhh OK - It's a very warm morning and I'm in full ATGATT kit but I'll hike a bit closer for you..
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OK - this is the Glenfinnan Railway viaduct and it's famous for two reasons.
1. It appears on one of the Scottish Bank's £10 note
2. It's the viaduct the Hogwarts Express in filmed crossing in a couple of the Harry Potter films.

I kinda like british historical railway architecture but I have to say that this is a monstrosity! It's built from bulk concrete and for 1879 must have ben a pioneering project (£18,000 pounds worth). I wish they'd clad it with stone!

Moving on I chose the B-road route on the south side of the great glen and as a result didn't get many photo opportunities for Loch Ness. So my next stop was just beyond the glen and Inverness at Culloden battlefield.

Here's where the Jacobite rebellion was put down with extreme prejudice owing to tactical errors on the Jacobite's part. It is a very moving place with a tangible ambience and the mass graves of the Scots are particularly moving.

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In a thoughtful frame of mind I turned back towards Loch Ness; this time on the North Shore main road; to Drumnadrochit.
Another Planning error! the village is pleasant enough but it is totally devoted to all things Nessie!

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Enough said - I'll be passing through Drumnadrochit without stopping in future!
Martin
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Shakey
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Re: Alice's Adventures in the Highlands

Postby Shakey » Sat Aug 30, 2014 8:01 am

Day 4.
Time to go home. Up and over the Lecht Ski centre road via my favourite cafe stop at Corgarf. But first; my first visit to Aviemore. Aviemore is Scotland's answer to Tirolean skiing resorts and serves the slopes in the Cairngorm range of mountains. I need to refuel so Ill bimble into town and.........

Holy crap! what are all these Harleys doing here?!

Turns out they were leaving the tail end of the "Thunder in the Glens" rally and you couldn't move for denim clad clones.
I joined them briefly at the filling station queue and then got out of there (I like to ride in a group of at most two bikes).

En-route to Grantown on Spey I noticed a sign to the RSPB (Royal Society for the Protection of Birds) reserve at Loch Garten. This started sixty years ago and resulted in the reintroduction of the Osprey (Fish Eagle) to the Highlands. The family had flown off for winter leaving just the male bird but he was off chasing buzzards so my only photo of the day is the empty nest (left) and perch / camera (right) trees;

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From there, a very straightforward and sunny ride through the Glenlivet Estate and over the Lecht took me back home after 540 miles of the scenic superlative that is the Scottish Western Highlands.

Now to plan the next trip :D
Martin
Pas D'elle yeux rhone que nous!
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Charlesger
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Alices Adventures in the Highlands

Postby Charlesger » Wed Sep 11, 2019 4:41 pm

I was just wondering how you would compare it to alice in wonderland. What is the main diffrence, how do you feel about the illustrations, and would any one say they like it better than aiw?


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