Sunday, March 26, 2017

March 9th: Some Driving, Some Hiking, and Some Whisky

We didn't sleep too late the next day; we had places to go!

We had breakfast in our hotel before leaving Edinburgh. I had a vegetarian version of a Scottish breakfast, complete with vegetarian haggis (which was really good). This was the view from our table...not bad.   :)

We checked out, packed up the car, and hit the road. Time to drive north!

We stopped at the Blair Athol distillery along the way. We didn't do a distillery tour here, but we did browse a bit in their shop before heading out.

We had to do a bit of driving to get to our final stop for the day, but at least the scenery along the way was really interesting...

...especially as we got further north. I took this while we were stopped for a minute for some roadwork.

We wanted to break up the drive a bit, so we made a detour to Kincraig. I had read about a riverside walk along the River Spey, so we took a little while to check it out. It took a few minutes to figure out that we had to pass through a random gate to start the walk, but we eventually got there.  :)

The path wanders through a random field and branches off at a few different spots, so you can make up your own hike.

There were some pretty sweet views along the way. The only other person we saw the entire time was a guy inspecting a set of powerlines that ran through the field.

After a little while we came across a bench looking out on the river, so we stopped for a few minutes for a snack.

There were snowy hills here, too.  :)

We ate our granola bars, enjoyed the views for a few more minutes...

...then started making our way back toward the car. We had a bit more driving left before we'd be done for the day.

I took this somewhere along the way as we drove north. The scenery just kept getting prettier the further north we went.

A little while later, we got to our hotel for the next two nights. Mark was really excited about this one; we were staying at the Dornoch Castle Hotel, which, aside from being in a cool old castle, has an incredible whisky bar.

Instead of leaving mints on your pillows, they leave you chocolate and a small decanter of sherry. I liked this place already.   :)    We got settled into the room, then went back downstairs to check out their whisky selection.

To say it's impressive is an understatement. Some of these bottles are incredibly old and possibly the only ones in existence. And, the best part: they charge incredibly reasonable prices. You'd never find a place like this in the US!

It was a little tricky to know where to start with such a good selection, but Mark picked out a couple things. Their bartender is fantastic and made a couple suggestions, too.

Mark made sure to take notes on his samples. After a little while we were getting a pretty good collection of empties, but's not like we had to be anywhere! (I tried a gin and tonic made with their own gin; it was really good. I don't know why I've never thought to put blackberries in my gin and tonics at home!)

After a few samples we went back up to the room to hang out until it was time for our dinner reservation. We made some tea, ate some cookies, and watched some more silly game shows before eventually heading back downstairs. Dinner was really tasty...

...then it was back to the lounge for a couple more samples before we went back upstairs and went to bed. It was a good thing we were spending two nights here; there were so many more whiskies to try!

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