Wednesday, October 22, 2014


Trip Summary

Here are some notes in summary of our fall 5-week trip to Scotland:

First, our rental car, from Arnold Clark, was a Hyundai i30 CDRi (diesel), automatic, 5-door.  I have no idea what all those numbers and letters mean, but the car was a very nice drive

--comfortable, plenty of power, large enough for all our gear (suitcases and golf clubs), and economical (about 42-43 mpg).  We put a little over 2700 miles on the car and paid £1.30 a litre or £5.20 a gallon, the equivalent of $8.25 a gallon.

Second, a summary of our golf shows we played 19 rounds ( six 9-hole, thirteen 18-hole) on a total of 14 different courses six of which were new to us.  That means we played 287 holes of golf 

(a significant portion of them badly) and walked over 80 miles on courses this trip.  
Next, we ate well wherever we went in Scotland, as we do on most trips.  We eat often with our Scottish family in Crieff and we do our own cooking much of the week we spent in timeshare at Scandinavian Village
Scandinavian Village and Our Three Room Apartment

in Aviemore in Cairngorm National Park (the Highlands). When we ate out it was mostly for lunches or tea and sweets in tearooms, coffee shops, and cafes.  We visited 20 different of that ilk.  We did eat or drink in six pubs, including the Clachan Inn (the oldest licensed pub in Scotland).  Our biggest treat was dinner in eleven different restaurants--five great, five good, and one rubbish (a Scottish phrase which fits the Uig Restaurant on Skye). 
We also visited more than 45 of various kinds of tourist attractions: castles, 
Ardvreck Castle

gardens, harbours, ancient sites, churches or religious sites, distilleries, 
Two bottles We Didn't Buy--Check the Prices

Converted that would be $500 and $1900!!!
and natural attractions like waterfalls and beaches.  Ten of the sites were new to us, while others were like old friends.
What were the Bests of the trip?  My traveling partner, Anne, 

is the absolute BEST of any trip--except she beats me too many times on the golf courses.  Bests other than She Who Has My heart:

Best New (to us) Golf:  West Kilbride GC in Ayrshire on the west coast 

and Muir of Ord GC 

near Inverness in the Highlands.

Best Restaurant: Rowan Tree in Aviemore (Highlands), Anderson’s 
We both had the lamb shank at Anderson's.
in Boat of Garten (Highlands), and Harbour View in Portree (Isle of Skye).

Best Pub: Stein Inn (the oldest pub on the Isle of Skye) and Cross Keys Inn 
Cross Keys Inn was quiet for a while, but didn't stay that way long.
in Kippin near Stirling (central Scotland).

Most Interesting Food: see below.

Best New Attraction: Fairy Pools on the Isle of Skye and Dunvegan Castle 

(Clan MacLeod) and Gardens on the Isle of Skye. 

All in all, it was such a good trip that we are already planning our return in the spring.

Most Interesting Food

We are one with the Bacon Roll!  We stopped in at the Horn (a cafe between Perth and Dundee on A90) for the first time on our way to Arbroath GC.  

They make the World’s Best Bacon Rolls and have the trophy to prove it.  The Bacon Roll is a bun stuffed with 8-10 pieces of crispy bacon--a cross between our “streaky” bacon and the normal Scottish or Irish breakfast bacon.  
Need I say more!?!
It’s a huge sandwich!  Not very greasy, but still not the most healthful of meals.  But so delicious that it will be hard to pass without stopping.  Damn the Diet, Horn Bacon Roll Ahead!  

A Little Help from My Friends

I’d like you to help me select photos.  Check out the three photos below and tell me which you like best (for whatever reason). 
Meadow, Carr-Bridge

On the Glenlivet Estate

Double Rainbow, Isle of Skye

You can comment directly on the blog page--click comments at the bottom and create a Google ID and then write your comments.  Or you can simply email your comments directly to me.  Thanks for the help.

Sunday, October 5, 2014


Beech Trees
Besides the Wildlife Park and the Muir of Ord Golf Course we also “discovered” Fort George.  
Fort George Entrance
We’d seen the fort often from Fortrose & Rosemarkie GC which is directly across the Moray Firth from the fort and we’d driven by the signpost to the fort probably a dozen times over the years, but we’d never visited the site.
Fort George is a working army base.

Cannons to the right of me….
The fort, located just outside Nairn and only 11 miles northeast of Inverness, was completed in 1769 and was built as the ultimate defense against further Jacobite (Catholic followers of the Stuarts) uprisings after the defeat of Bonnie Prince Charlie at Culloden in 1745.  The name Fort George comes from Gaelic An Gearasten meaning “the Garrison.”  The fort has been continuously used as a garrison since being built.  
The Armory
In fact, it is the only ancient property of Historic Scotland (a trust) still functioning as intended, a working army barracks.  The fort is currently home to the Queen’s Highlanders and I wandered amongst the barracks and armory buildings and looked for dolphins in the firth from the fort’s viewpoints.  Through binoculars and telephoto camera lenses we could watch golfers at Fortrose across the water.  
The Chanonry Point Lighthouse with the Inverness Bridge in background from Fort George.
At the fort we met three senior gentlemen who had been stationed together at Fort George sixty-three years earlier (1951). 

This was their first visit since their army years.  One commented at the entrance, “It still looks the same.”  

As the men started their tour, two pipers piped the orders in front of the HQ offices.
Again, we wish we’d stopped before as our friend Marcia had suggested.


Nairn Harbour
As we wandered from the boats harboured at Nairn toward the tearoom recommended by the Harbour Master, we noticed a van with its back doors open displaying an array of fresh seafood.  It was the local fish monger making his rounds.  
Modern Molly's Wheelbarrow
People came to the van, selected their fish, and went home with dinner ready for the pot.
We chatted with the traveling merchant.  He used to be an army piper (he would have been one piping the orders of the day at Fort George), 

but now brings fresh fish to the locals two or three times a week.  We had a look at his products and selected an Arbroath Smokie (haddock smoked at Arbroath on Scotland’s east coast) and some brown crab claws for our dinner--direct from a modern day Molly Malone.


It’s the most northerly golf course on mainland Britain and it is one of the best small courses we’ve ever played.  
Anne walking up to the first tee at Durness GC.
Durness GC rivals St Medan in the south of Scotland along the Solway Firth, St Fillans in the Highland hills of central Scotland, and Cruit Island in County Donegal, Ireland on the Irish Sea for interesting golf shots and quality oif the layout.  
Starting up the second hole with Balnakeil Bay behind.
On a good day it surpasses all of the them for beautiful and spectacular views.
Built in 1988 on the raised ancient dunes on the southwest side of Balnakeil Bay on the Pentalnd Firth (the meeting of the North Atlantic and the North Sea), Durness GC is not only a testing track but is testing to get to as well.  
Hit down to the green at the third.
From Ullapool on Scotland’s northwest coast Durness is more than 70 miles of mostly single-track road.  From Inverness at the edge of the Moray Firth (in the center of the north) Durness is more than 80 miles with at least half of it single-track road.  It is probably the most isolated course on the mainland.  
Looking back at the fairway of the sixth which goes around the loch.

I tee off at the eighth.

That isolation is part of the charm of Durness GC.  Several other qualities help make the course great.  The challenges are many: blind shots (drives and approaches), almost constant wind, heavy marram (dune grass) rough, strategic bunkers, a loch to play around or over, and the ocean is in play on the last two holes.  For such an out-of-the-way track the course is kept in excellent condition. 
Anne teeing off at the eighth.

The variety of the holes is another attraction--they play uphill, downhill, around hills, and around and over loch and sea. the views from the course are without rival.  When you’re not viewing the nearby mountains (not necessarily tall but still dramatic) you are viewing the sea, Balnakeil Bay and Beach backed by an expanse of bracken, fern, and marram covered dunes. a final charm of Durness GC is its friendly members and players.
On the final hole you hit over the crashing waves and avoid three bunkers to find the green.

Durness is not easy to get to nor easy to play, but it is a course I would love to play every day.