Day 10 – Friday
There was one more thing that we wanted to try while in Scotland and that was shooting. Hunting and game farms are very popular here but Dan and I just wanted to try to shoot some clay pigeons on our last day. We did a little research and found a popular place nearby. It would be fun to give this a shot (yes, I meant to say that).
We arrived shortly before 10 am and the small parking lot was full of big trucks and men in camouflage. I pulled in, hoping that there would be a spot near the back that I couldn’t see from the road but instead I just became trapped in a small parking lot full of milling people. Neither of us were happy with the situation and by the time I worked our way back onto the road we didn’t care enough to go back to find alternate parking. We can shoot guns anywhere; we didn’t have to fight the crowds here to experience it.
But now what to do? The weather was slightly overcast but generally dry and it was our last day in Scotland. Neither of us wanted to drive much today, as we’d already have a 3 1/2 hour drive in the morning to get back to Aberdeen. Once again, we fell back on hiking and took a side road down the valley towards Kingussie.
At one point we crossed a beautiful stone arched bridge and I told Dan that I was going to find a place to pull over and take a photo. Fortunately for both of us, the next place to pull over was a car park specifically for hiking in this area.
The Lemon stood out among the half dozen cars in the lot and we struck out in the direction of the bridge. The path was narrow but well-trod and we were at the river within five minutes. A couple had set up their tent near the bridge and two more people were on the path just ahead of us with their dog. These would be the only people we would see until we returned to our car.
The path crossed the road we had just come down and then traversed through the yards of a couple of houses before wandering off into the woods. The second house looked fairly new and someone was busily building a drystone wall at the back of the yard. We both appreciate the beauty of drystone walls and the skill it takes to build a good one. I was tempted to approach the man and talk about drystone wall construction but as I stood there watching I grew embarrassed at the thought of it and we soon resumed our walk.
Dan inspects an older drystone wall
The trail followed power lines for a while before ducking into a forest. It was peaceful and quiet and I managed to catch a glimpse of a deer before it darted into the underbrush. Still, it was a short trail and we were back at the car within an hour.
When we returned to the car there was a couple there with two dogs. One, an elderly Golden Retriever, rested peacefully inside their travel van. The other, a black Flat-Coated Retriever, was busily running around and sniffing at everything. Dan recognized the breed of the black dog and asked the couple to confirm his guess. They were thrilled that he knew the breed and we ended up talking with them for about twenty minutes. They live in the UK but had been traveling through the Highlands for holiday. It was a pleasant diversion in our day.
We then continued on our original course: the Ruthven Barracks. We has seen this massive stone structure from the main road down the valley but we hadn’t stopped to inspect it yet.
There was no one there when we stopped but by the time we were ready to get out of the car a mini tour bus had discharged its load of a dozen tourists. We sat in the car and “rested our eyes” while we waited for the tourists to leave again. Once we had the barracks to ourselves we wandered up the hill to the interior of the main structure. There were few informational signs but they did a good job of giving an idea of the extensive history of the grounds. There is some really good information in the link I just posted; I recommend checking it out!
Within the barracks
And like most ruins, I can’t help but wonder what it was really like when it was being used, with men and horses filling the grounds with smells and sounds. Time travel needs to get here soon!
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Day 11 – Saturday
Our last day in Scotland wasn’t much of a day. We got up very early, cleaned up the cottage and threw the bags into the Lemon. We were going to take the most direct route back to Aberdeen but the GPS had other ideas. It directed us through very slow and narrow back roads which, in conjunction with the fresh rain, made for a slow drive. In addition, pheasants were coming out of the brush on either side of the road every few miles. No wonder game hunting is big here!
We finally got routed onto the main road and made good time. The car was returned to the rental company and we waited for our plane to board. The flight went without incident or excitement and soon we were back in Basel. On the bus back to our apartment I heard German/Swiss German and realized that I had missed the sound. The kitties greeted us as we opened the apartment door and the tolling of the church bells came in through the windows. It was good to be home.
Thank you for reading and I hope that you enjoyed following along.