Plan was to go up to Aberdeen today but we've had more than enough retail therapy so decided to give the granite city a miss and head inland to the Cairngorm National Park.
But first things first, it's Sunday, and Sunday means Car Boot. A quick trip into Stonehaven before breakfast to inspect a dozen motley stalls in the market square and return empty handed to our Shredded Wheat. Well the walk was a bracing start to the day!
Proper Scotland. At last! A main A road which is single track with passing places, pine forest, snow still on the mountain tops, mountain pass roads so high that snow was in the verges. Real Scotland.
The day started on the road to Ballater, heading towards Braemar, two places associated strongly with Queen Victoria. Just after Ballater we took the road leading to The Lecht, at 644m (2113') the second highest pass in Scotland. No surprise then that we ended up at Tomintoul, Scotland's highest village. Stunning scenery, ski lifts at the summit of The Lecht but really only enough snow for snowmen and snowball fights.
Dropping down into Speyside we detoured off to the RSPB site at Loch Garten in search of osprey. And there she was, about 100m away on a low tree branch, just down from her pole top nest. The site is good, lots of binoculars to use, several telescopes trained in the nest and bird(s) when around. No red squirrel or crested tit sightings for us though. But the osprey will do
Back up the Spey valley where we meet The Malt Whisky Trail and follow it to our campsite at Aberlour. About a mile across the river The Macallan distillery turns barley and Spey water into liquid gold. A mile down the road the Aberlour distillery does similar, as does Glenfiddich about 4 miles away, nestling next to its neighbour The Balvenie. The same for mile distance to the north two more neighbours Glenrothes and Glen Grant also breathe life into the water of life.
Time for the first dram of our trip now, perhaps.