Tuesday, 11 June 2013

A Highland Fling


"By yon bonnie banks and by yon bonnie braes,
Where the sun shines bright on Loch Lomond."
Just one hour from our local airport and we were in Edinburgh - Scotland's capital.
The skyline dominated by both the castle and Arthur's Seat. Arthur's Seat being the remains of a very ancient volcano rising 250m (822ft) above the city.
The Scott Memorial - built in 1840 following Sir Walter Scott's death in 1832. A competition was held to design the monument and one entrant entered under the name of John Morvo - the name of a medieval architect who designed Melrose Abbey. Morvo was in fact George Meikle Kemp, a 45 year old self-taught architect. Kemp had feared his lack of experience would disqualify him, but the design was popular with the judges and Kemp was awarded the contract to construct the monument. Bill Bryson described it as looking like a "gothic rocket ship". No time to climb the tower - our destination - the "Highlands" where we planned to take some interesting railway journeys as many of you had guessed.
This pretty packhorse bridge straddles the River Dulnain in Carrbridge diagonally across the road from our hotel in the Cairgorms. The river water is an amber colour due to the peat. It makes the water extremely soft which leaves your hair silky and smooth eliminating the need to use hair conditioner.
This plaque was badly scratched but it does show how the packhorse bridge was used. It was erected 300 years ago because there was no point at which the river could be crossed when it was in full spate. This caused distress and hardship to the locals, and burials at the Church across the river often had to be delayed. Here you can see a coffin being taken over the bridge.
It's all rather lovely and peaceful with the river gently flowing by, and the sun shinning brightly high up in the blue sky.

66 comments:

  1. How wonderful! I'm longing for a trip back up to Scotland and have just emerged from Pinterest updating my Scotland and Elliot Clan boards. I could be tempted by plane next time, so much quicker. x

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    1. Flying up to Scotland certainly reduces the journey. It is also really interesting flying all the way up familiar countryside especially if it is a clear day. You can pick out landmarks such as Morecambe Bay, The Lake District, The Long Mynd, and see the Forth railway bridge - I would throughly recommend it.

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  2. Edinburgh looks so beautiful and so green. I bet the architecture looks amazing with the backdrop of the Scottish countryside around it. I always image traveling around Scotland on a train. Looking forward to more of your journeys there.

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    1. The trip was really beautifu - the weather was perfect and the train journeys had memorable scenery. Will show more in the next few days.

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  3. A gothic rocket ship, that's indeed a bit what the memorial looks like. Love that picture with the adorable bridge. It looks so thin and fragile, as if it could fall down just by looking at it. And then that blue blue sky!!!! It's been all grey here for some days again, so every blue sky, even just on a photo, is like a huge relief to me, like an escape from prison. Thank you Rosemary!
    Marian

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    1. Every time we returned back to the hotel we had to take a look at the bridge it mesmerised us. We really did not expect that we would be so lucky with the weather. I think that Scotland had better weather than England - it was hot, bright and sunny all the time with no need for coats.

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  4. We were just saying we must go to Scotland! Neither the Mr or I have ever visited and I feel we need to put that right very soon. Loved the travel posters in your previous post. M x

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    1. Dear Jane - you must put that right, you will love it. It is surprising how many English people have never visited. We flew up from Bristol on Easy Jet - a very quick flight. If we go by car we always leave very early in the morning e.g. 4.00am and it is surprising how quickly you can get up to the Highlands at that time of day.

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  5. Dear Rosemary - I do like the Scott Memorial; it reminds me of a structure that might be featured on the cover of a Goth sci-fi book, so retro it's almost futuristic!

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    1. The Scott memorial really dominates that particular part of Edinburgh. It is much higher than it looks on my photo - over 200 feet tall with 287 steps to the top. We should really have climbed it as the view must be fantastic, but time was short.

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  6. Flying was a good way to get to Scotland quickly, Rosemary, before going on to the Cairngorms!
    Is that your Clan tartan in the collage? The pack horse bridge near your hotel is pretty and the water so clear.

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    1. I am not Scottish Linda - Derbyshire born and bred - it is just a photo I took. The bridge was very attractive, and there were lovely walks along both sides of the river bank.

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  7. That water is so clear, and what a joy that it makes youre hair soft.
    The photo's are wonderful.
    A few years ago my father visit scotland, he was there for fishing, and he like's the landscape so much.

    Greetings,
    Inge, my choice

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    1. Because the water is filtered through peat it makes it very soft, and therefore, when you wash your hair it leaves it really smooth.
      I am pleased that your father enjoyed his time fishing in Scotland - if the weather is great then the landscape takes some beating.

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  8. I do love your photos Rosemary, and these are really special. the packhorse bridge is beautiful, and the ones taken in Edinburgh are great. It sounds as if you are having a great trip. I hope the weather stays good for you. I love the story about the Scott memorial architect. I wonder if he had used his own name, he would not have been considered. Enjoy the rest of your trip. Jx

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    1. We are actually home now Janice, but I am pleased that you enjoyed seeing the photos. I am sure the fact that Kemp used the name of Morvo must have had some influence on the judges, but he was successful with the memorial - it is certainly a very impressive image on the Edinburgh skyline.

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  9. First, I adore tartans, they go perfectly well everywhere! Second, Scotland is a dreamy destination, I have had the chance to spend 10 unforgettable days there. And the feature flower , what's it's name ?

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    1. Dear Olympia - I am so pleased to learn that you have visited Scotland. We actually lived there for the first 6 years of our married life whilst H was at the university in Glasgow, and our eldest son was born there.
      Scotland has very distinctive images, tartan being one of them. The flower is the Scottish Thistle.

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  10. Oh, that's the true colour of a Highland stream, Rosemary. :-) I'm so glad you had a lovely holiday. I could almost have waved to you as we headed north past Carrbridge on the A9 10 days ago.

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    1. Imagine that Perpetua we arrived 10 days ago. Have you ever seen the little packhorse bridge? if not it is worth stopping and having a look if you have time.

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  11. Dear Rosemary, I now have an image of you washing your hair in the River Dulnain like the Timotei lady of the 1980s TV commercials. :)

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    1. I had forgotten about the Timotei advert, but what a romantic thought. The tap water is also affected by the peat, and sometimes visitors are surprised when they sometimes seem crystal brown water coming out of the taps especially following a storm.

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  12. Some wonderful scenes on here Rosemary... I am intrigued by the Cairgorms peat water having such beneficial properties :-)

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    1. Mainly it is because the water is very soft having filtered through the peat - you need very little soap to get a lather and it leaves your hair silky. It is also one of the reasons that the whiskey tastes good there too.

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  13. Thank you once again Rosemary for a really interesting post. Look forward to the follow-ups!!!!!!!!!

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    1. Happy that you enjoyed seeing it Susan and thank you.

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  14. I can't wait to hear about your train journeys through Scotland, it's something I would love to do. Last year we too found the journey by plane was so quick and easy and allowed us to enjoy some of the sights of Edinburgh before travelling into the Highlands.
    Sarah x

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    1. I wonder if you also flew from Bristol - it was so quick and easy. I remember that you have a bit of a thing for trains Sarah, so I am sure that you would also love the train trips. Travelling through the landscape with the wonderful weather was perfect.

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  15. Beautiful - so glad you had good weather!

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    1. We did realise that we were exceptionally lucky Nilly especially after all the chilly weather we have been experiencing.

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  16. Scotland is a place I would really love to visit , and how wonderful to do the journey by train . I shall enjoy following your movements on the blog :-)

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    1. Dear Jane - we thought that travelling through the landscape on shortish but special journeys would be an interesting experience. We did in fact really enjoy it, and of course the weather was in our favour.

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  17. Dear Rosemary, I had to look up the word "spate". Knowing the meaning now it explains why the bridge clearance is so high. The little stream looks innocent enough but having lived by such a stream I know that it can become violent during spring run off times and/or heavy rains.
    Lovely photographs and as always, thank you for the history lesson. ox, Gina

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    1. Dear Gina - thank you for taking the trouble to find out the meaning of the word spate. It tends to be a word in common usage in Scotland. Glad that you enjoyed seeing the photos, we were so fortunate to be blessed with wonderful warm and sunny weather during the whole of the trip. No umbrellas or coats required from morning to evening.

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  18. what a beautiful presentation, I loved Edinburgh when I was there on a short conference few years ago:-)

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    1. It is a lovely city, and I like the way it is surrounded by countryside especially that extinct volcano.

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  19. Hi Rosemary, the bridge is quite pretty. The images are all lovely. Olive

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    1. Glad you enjoyed seeing them Olive - the bridge is over 300 years old.

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  20. Scotland is very high on my wish-list; I do hope we get there in the next few years and I will be taking notes from your posts, Rosemary. The packhorse bridge is just the prettiest, fragile looking thing, but obviously has been there a very long time. Is it near Edinburgh? and who's the very attractive gentleman in the kilt? very stylish.. I have noticed photos of Charles and Camilla out and about in the tartan this week; it is so classic and never goes out of style. Scott memorial is wonderfully grand!

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    1. Dear Patricia, the packhorse bridge is a good two hours by car further north than Edinburgh. It was built in 1717 and is the oldest stone bridge in Scotland. The gentleman in the kilt was our guide who made all of the arrangements for us. He wore a kilt everyday and kindly posed for me. I do hope that you have the chance to visit one day Patricia. May be you will want to do so even more once I have shown you a few more images of beautiful of Scotland.

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  21. That is all so very pretty.
    I like the memorial.
    My husbands mums family came from Scotland as free settlers years ago to Tasmania.

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    1. Glad you liked it - I wonder if your husband knows all about his ancestry, exactly where they came from and their background in Scotland.

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    2. There is a book Rosemary where distant cousins of my husband's have visited Scotland to find out where they the family came from. There a photos of Castles if I recall. I do have the book so must look at it again.

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    3. Perhaps you could do a post?

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  22. A lovely post, and I am glad you had such good weather, too. I don't think I've ever seen another old bridge quite that shape.

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    1. I loved the bridge - it just looked right straddling the river in that spot. We really were lucky with the weather, especially following the chilly wet spring we have had.

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  23. Dear Rosemary,

    It's been a long time since we were in Scotland. Your photographs have made me want to rectify that.

    Years ago I had relatives who ran an estate up on Rannoch Moor. While the kitchen tap water was filtered, the bath water was peat-coloured and, as you say, very soft but I always felt that I was having a bath in beer!

    Kirk

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    1. Dear Kirk - there are so many tempting locations to visit around europe - it is just a question of time and of course money.
      When we lived in Scotland many moons ago the water in the taps was amber coloured. If we had guests to stay they were horrified thinking there was something wrong with it. I don't think that the water in most places is brown these days, it must have had something done to it.

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  24. Such interesting facts! I never heard of amber water - would love to wash my hair in it! And the Scott Memorial is quite striking. It really does look like a gothic rocket ship! I enjoyed reading about the architect. So glad his inexperience (or use of another name) didn't disqualify him.

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    1. Glad you enjoyed the information about the architect, it is these interesting tit bits that can stick in the mind and be brought out when you see the building in question.

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  25. Dear Rosemary,what a great post!!Wonderful pictures!!Scotland is a place I would really love to visit my day!!!My daughter is dreaming to be married there because her boyfriend has roots from Scotland!!Thank you for sharing these beautiful images!!
    Dimi..

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    1. Dear Dimi - a wedding in Scotland would be a very exciting prospect to look forward to. I wonder which part of Scotland you are referring to?
      It is a beautiful country and we were so lucky to get lovely warm sunny weather.

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  26. You always share the best bits of information! Love this beginning to your journey, the packhorse bridge is so picturesque and hobbit-like and your photo and description of the Scott Memorial as a gothic rocket ship is perfect!

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    1. Dear Rosemary - thank you - you always interpret things in an interesting way, and you are right, the bridge does look straight out of The Hobbits. I can now visualise Bilbo, Frodo, Samwise, Peregrin Took and Meriadoc Brandybuck all trotting over the top of it on their way home to the Shire.

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  27. Hello, rosemary. I’m happy for you that you were blessed with such a nice weather, with lots of sunshine and gently flowing river with plenty of water. “Gothic rocket ship” is perfectly fitting phrase to the architecture. Have Gothic architectures inspired people’s aspiration high into air up to the heaven? I’m interested in some interesting railway journeys and look forward to them.

    Yoko

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    1. Dear Yoko - our railway journeys were wonderful and seeing the landscape in the lovely sunshine was the cherry on the cake.

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  28. oh! Scotland! Edinburgh!

    I have always wanted to visit

    It's a country known to me from books and films
    and when very young I worked in a scottish hotel (the Caledonian Club) in London.

    ( a bit shy to admit that after I watched Braveheart I was sure if I ever got married it would be with a Scottish man :D
    I found a Norwegian one, well they do have some common genes so I did get it completely wrong!)

    I have promise myself a trip to Edinburgh
    until then I look forward on more post about Scotland

    love xoxox



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    1. The links between Scotland and Norway are strong, and it is not so far away from you. My son sailed from Stavanger to Scotland two years ago. They also share mountains, but strangely they do not look the same. The mountains and fjords of Norway are different from the lochs and mountains of Scotland. You can get cheap flights from Oslo to Edinburgh so hopefully one day you will manage.
      You fancied a rugged Scot, wearing a kilt - did you?

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  29. When I was young, I had a pen pal from Glasgow. It would be great to visit Scotland some day. Edinburgh looks old and interesting.

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    1. Edinburgh is a good city to visit - lots of interesting places, castles, art galleries, and trips nearby. We lived in Glasgow for 6 years when first married - H was at the university there.

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  30. I recognised Scottland by the skirt or kilt.

    Greetings,
    Filip

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    1. Yes definitely a kilt not a skirt.

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  31. Hello Rosemary, Sorry to be so late responding--I just got back to Ohio and am catching up.

    It's hard to see how that bridge stays up. I love the photos of the stream. When I was in upper Canada once, the water ran through bogs and was that same tea color, but was still potable, and actually tasted good.
    --Road to Parnassus

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    1. Hello Jim - hope that you have a wonderful time in Ohio and that you do some posts of your trip for us.
      Yes, people are often anxious about the tea colour of the water when it has filtered through bogs, but there is nothing wrong with it, and as I mentioned it is extremely soft. It is also the thing that helps make good Scottish and Irish Whiskey.

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  32. I'd love to visit Scotland as I've never been, hope you have a lovely stay.

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    1. Do try and visit at sometime in the future Paula - I am sure you would love it.

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