October 2003 Autumn Break to Scottish Highlands

Our Autumn break this year was to the Scottish highlands, hoping to see some spectacular fall colours. Immediately prior to this we attended John's high school re-union (their 65th) so our trip started from Chingford, on the Northeast outskirts of London. We drove the whole length of the A1 highway ("the Great North Road") past Luton, Grantham, and Sherwood Forest.

Durham Durham Cathedral was our first scheduled stopover and we reached Durham in time for a good look round the city and cathedral. Our views in the cathedral were restricted by an on-going consecration of the new Bishop of Durham but that added its own spectacle of colour and sounds.

We next visited the ancient Roman fort of Vindolanda Vindolanda on Hadrian's wall and then doubled back to Newcastle for a quick look at their Millennium bridge over the river Tyne before turning north again, over the Forth road bridge west of Edinburgh and so on to our main destination, the Fife Arms Hotel at Braemar. This is one of several hotels own by the Wallace Arnold coach touring holiday company.

Braemar is in a valley with one road in from the south and one way out to the east. We had fine sunny weather, but cold and frosty at night. The autumn colours were at their best, and it was a very good year. Even the bracken joined in the colourful display. The view from our hotel room in Braemar This is the view from our bedroom window. We were based at Braemar for four nights and made local excursions to Aberdeen and Montrose on the east coast, and to Aviemore to the west.
We took the furnicular railway up Cairngorm mountain above Aviemore.   It was a VERY windy day, but the views were spectacular.

Balmoral Castle from the main Road The Royal retreat of Balmoral Castle is close to Braemar, close to the main road on the banks of the river Dee. It was closed for the season but we did manage to see the castle peaks in the distance from the roadside.

Our trip home took us first to Inverness, Bronwen contemplates Loch Ness from its Southern tip at Fort Augustus then along the shores of Loch Ness to Fort Augustus and then south to Fort William for a night's lodgings "en-route". We then passed through the fabulous valley of Glencoe and made our way to Inverary on loch Fyne, a sea-loch.

Inverary claims to be, perhaps, the oldest "new town". The 'new' town of Inverary from near the castle Apparently in 1750 the Laird of Inverary castle, the 3rd Duke of Argyll, didn't appreciate the old village spoiling his views of the loch so arranged for the whole village to be rebuilt in a more pleasing style. We stayed in the Best Western Argyll hotel, which was built to accommodate guests to the castle and visiting officials attending the then newly built Court in Inverary.

We finally left Scotland at the end of our 10 day break, passing the extreme contrasts of Loch Lomond and the Gorbals district of Glasgow, before completing our trip home rather quickly along the M6 and M5 motorways.

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