Scotland: Strathspey Railway
Sunday, August 9, 2015
What a difference a good sleep makes!
I slept well and work up 5:30 (1:30am at home). I took some beautiful sunrise pictures over the mountains. One was of fog rising off River Spey. I posted that on Facebook and one of my friends said that the water used in the making of her favorite whiskey came from that river. Hmmm…
The River Spey (Scottish Gaelic: Uisge Spè) is a river in the northeast of Scotland. It is the ninth longest river in the United Kingdom, as well as the third longest and fastest-flowing river in Scotland. It is important for salmon fishing and whisky production (MKO’Note: Looks like my FB friend was right!).
After taking the pictures, I napped a bit.
I went to get something out of the fridge and found the power was off – and to the microwave. That was the fuse we’d blown last night. Tom found a stepladder and the fusebox.
At 11:00 we went to the main building for a little talk about what to do here in Aviemore and the surrounding areas. We met Gina, the general manager, and Jean who has lived in Boat of Garten forever. When I mentioned we were going to the Edinburgh Tattoo on Wednesday, Jean said her partner’s father was Black Watch so he can wear the colors.
I asked about Strathspey Railway and CairnGorm Funicular. Jean said it was too foggy today for the funicular so we went to Strathspey Steam Railway. It goes from Aviemore to Broomhill by way of Boat of Garden.
The directions to the railway were to go past Tesco – where we’d shopped last night! – and it was on the left. We drove back into town and found that parking was at a premium. Tom parked by the Macdonald Aviemore Hotel since we figured we were family 🙂
We walked down hill from our parking spot to the train station and over a bridge. I got some good pictures of the train from that bridge – and some photos of the engineer backing the train up. We were able to get tickets for a train leaving in about 15 minutes. For the way up to Broomhill, we sat near the front of the train.
We’re “train people” and this trip didn’t disappoint. The steam train went through Boat of Garten and turned around at Broomhill.
It was interesting at Boat of Garten when a couple bike riders stopped and took pictures of us – while we were taking pictures of them.
It was a nice, relaxing trip and I slept most of the way back. We saw River Spey again, sheep, cows, old rolling stock, people on bikes.
Join us for a truly memorable trip through the heart of the Scottish Highlands, in the stunning surroundings of the Cairngorms National Park! Explore the areas along our line further and discover exactly why the Victorians brought a railway line to this unique area in the 1800s!
It’s roughly 15 minutes of train travel between each station, with a full return trip lasting between 90 minutes and 2 hours (depending on which Station you start your journey at).
You can split your journey up if you wish! Take the morning train in to Boat of Garten and explore its stunning surroundings and take the last train of the day back in to Aviemore!
The first departure point along our 9 and a half mile line is Aviemore (we’re at Platform 3 of Aviemore Station!) It’s located in the heart of the Monadhliath and Cairngorm Mountains and is the perfect base for those that love the outdoors and glorious sights! Once the train takes you past the modern architecture of the town, we steam you through heather-clad moores and woodland and alongside the majestic River Spey. 5 miles away lies our second station at Boat!
Boat of Garten
As you enter Boat of Garten (also known as The Osprey Village) you will see one of the area’s finest courses at Boat of Garten Golf Club, originally built by locals and railwaymen! The RSPB observation hide at the Osprey Centre lies just 3 miles from the village and it’s certainly worth a visit during summer, when these magnificent birds return from the warmer climates of Africa! There are also plenty of walk and cycle trails, perfect for families, couples or groups exploring the area! The newly opened 1896 Gallery and Cafe is also definitely worth a visit! Be sure to stop off and have a look!
5 miles of glorious steam travel from Boat heading north brings you to our Broomhill Station, the current terminus of our line. The Station originally served the nearby villages of Dulnain Bridge and Nethy Bridge on the original Great North of Scotland Railway line. The forests in this area offer real diversity – there’s plenty of wildlife and nature to explore here! And the views from Broomhill are AMAZING! Make sure you get off the train at the Station, get some fantastic scenic pics and meet your engine driver, fireman and get some photos on the footplate!Our unique heritage railway boasts an incredible history and our line was the first to come to the Scottish Highlands, back in the mid 1800s. The future of our Railway is also of great importance! We’re working very hard to realise the railway’s dream of returning steam trains to Grantown-on-Spey!
We went back up the hill to the MacDonald Hotel to gets something to eat but there was no open restaurant. A Trafalgar tour bus let some people off but they seemed to be the only ones in the hotel. We walked around complex. Nothing. Went in shopping center. No food. We did get a couple t-shirts so all was not lost.
We walked back down the hill and into town. We stopped at the Cairngorm Hotel for a nice lunch. Coffee americano (Normal with 2 shots of espressos), of course. The coffee came with a small bit of shortbread (I think mine is better! ).
I got the senior meal of roast lamb (I wondered if it was like the seafood restaurants where you can choose your lobster – if I could choose one of the sheep I saw from the train), new potatoes, potatoes which had been mashed, formed into an oval and lightly fried, puréed carrots (maybe senior meant can’t chew. I thought it was smaller portions). Gravy. And peas which I avoided. My meal came with dessert so I had sticky toffee pudding with butterscotch sauce, ice cream and whipped cream.
Tom had an omelette with chips (french fries)…and peas. Ice cream for dessert came in a waffle cup with whipped cream and pirouette cookie.
The buffet on Thursday features haggis so we probably won’t be back!
Just a note here – sometimes, Cairngorm is spelled CairnGorm, sometimes Cairn Gorm, sometimes Cairngorm – all the same mountain as far as I can tell.
At this point, I realized I hadn’t put big bandage over butterflies and I’d been walking all day. Hooray!
We learned we couldn’t add a tip onto our charge bill for lunch. It had to be added before they ran the credit card. The waiter couldn’t take American money and the hotel staff couldn’t, either. They suggested changing money at the post office because it had a better rate than the banks.
We went across the street to find an adaptor since the ones we brought weren’t working. Got one and headed home.
Nap! I woke up about 7. Tom at 8. We found our new adaptor was for people going to the states from here.
I got one of our original adaptors working and started charging phones. This adaptor was only good for 2 pronged plugs so we used it for USB connections only.
We had another adaptor I’d bought specifically for this trip, as well as a 2-to-3 prong adaptor for the computers. I got very excited about this and set it up, plugging in an extension cord, then the 2-to-3, then plugged the adaptor into the wall. Too much – blew that out. <sigh> Now we can’t recharge the computers.
We went out for a little walk, then had spaghetti for dinner.
A Sinatra pretender on BBC Proms.
All today’s pictures:
I have to admit, my main reason for wanting to go to Scotland was to see the Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo, which we did on August 12, 2015. But the rest of the trip was amazing, too. Now, I want to go back!
I loved how we could set out to do one thing then – look! There’s a castle on the left! – something more interesting would happen.
I loved how friendly and helpful everyone was; how green it was everywhere; the ubiquitous sheep; the brogue; the mountains, lakes and rivers; so many people outdoors hiking and biking… The list goes on and on.
There are a few things I didn’t like but those will show up later, in the day to day posts 🙂