Cunning Plan part 3

Anna walking back from a nice meal at Westlands, Pitlochry
Tomatin - inside a mashing tub
Tomatin - workshop
Tomain Barrels

I know I said event free, but that is never the case when you set out on a touring holiday without any fixed plans. My next stop I had decided would be the Scottish town favored by Queen Victoria of Pitlochry. In our past journeys we had often stayed here at the Westlands hotel, whose owners became friends of ours and then once we had bought the motorhome we would camp on one of the campsites in the town and walk up to the hotel in the evening to treat ourselves to a meal and a wee dram or two, and often it seemed,  a walk back in the rain ( see Photo) .

Pitlochry at first glance appears to a Scottish version of seaside town like Clacton, with its large numbers of souvenir shops, and the rest of the retail establishments supporting a heavy Scottish theme, but this is a little unfair. The Town has an internationally famous theatre had holds a number of productions though out the year as well as many other events. In October for example, they decorate one of  the forests for an event called ‘The Enchanted Forest’ which is extremely popular. In fact most of the events held in Pitlochry are so popular that accommodation can be an issue at times, and unbeknown to me this was going to be the case this time. As I approach the turning off the A9 for the town I couldn’t fail to notice the roadside signs for the ‘Pitlochry Highland Games’. How busy could the town be? As it turned out, extremely busy! Pitlochry had taken on the appearance of Regent Street in London around Christmas time! The pavements were so full the people were forced to walk in the road which was lined with parked vehicles on both sides, I negotiated Badger through all this and when I reached my goal, unsurprisingly the Caravan Park was full!

So with nothing else for it I headed back onto the A9 to see if I could find another park that had some space. Thankfully a little further down the road there was a place that had a little room but no hard standing, however I was assured that the ground was firm as it hadn’t rained for some time so I should be OK. Yes you guessed it, that night it rained! Badger like a lot of modern Motorhomes is built on a van chassis which is front wheel drive, and being a motorhome, most of the weight is on the back so the slightest bit of soft ground and Badger decides to dig a set rather than propel himself forward. It was this that happened the next morning as I started to leave! However based on previous experience, as soon as the front wheels started to slip and dig in, I stopped and got out a couple of metre long plastic sheets with spikes on both sides that I bought for such occasions, these items have rescued myself and other campers a number of times, they are called Traction Tracks a bit like this.

On my way once again stopping off at the rather excellent Tomatin Distillery, if you haven’t tried their 18 year old malt I suggest you do, I think it is one of the hidden treasures and very reasonably priced for an 18 year old. The tour is worth taking as there is an interesting history to what was once one of the largest distilleries in Scotland. You get to walk inside a mashing tub ( see photo ) and they still have their own cooperage ( see photo ) which is very rare these days.

I decided to drive over the Forth road bridge, to make sure that they are doing a proper job on the new one that is currently being constructed, around Edinbrough and  then down the A68 and through the Northumbria National Park. This is a beautiful part of the United Kingdom and if you haven’t driven the A68 I urge you to put it on your list, not only are the views tremendous but this very straight Roman built road follows the undulating landscape to such an extent that it takes on the feel of a fair ground roller coaster at times, the sight of the road disappearing in front of you as you approach one of the many ‘hidden summits’ makes your stomach leap into your mouth, no sooner have you recovered from one of these is there another and then another. When I drove back with Anna I took her on this road and the motorhome was filled with our cries of excitement as Badger took us on this switchback highway. Great fun!