Scotland: The Cairngorms National Park
I woke up about 7 because it was very sunny, with the sun streaming through the bedroom windows. I was able to get back to sleep until 10:30. Then, at 11:30 it was cloudy and it began to rain.
We stopped at the Aviemore post office to change dollars to pounds since no one here is interested in American money.
Then, we went on to Cairn Gorm Mountain through Rothiemurchus Forest with a reindeer center, a sled dog center, clay pigeons shooting and Segways. Stretching from the River Spey to the high mountain plateau, Rothiemurchus sits within the Cairngorms National Park.
We also went by Loch Murlich (Scottish Gaelic, Loch Mhùrlaig), a freshwater loch in the Badenoch and Strathspey area of Highland, Scotland near Aviemore. The loch is home to a watersports center with kayaking, sailing and windsurfing among the activities available. There is also a yacht club and cycling routes around the loch. The loch is at the foot of the Cairngorm mountains, just a few miles from Aviemore and were planning to go back another day but we didn’t make it.
Cairn Gorm (Cairngorm) (Gaelic: An Càrn Gorm, meaning Blue or Green Hill) is a mountain in the Scottish Highlands overlooking Strathspey and the town of Aviemore. At 1245 metres (4084 ft) it is the sixth highest mountain in the United Kingdom. It has given its name to the whole range, although these hills are properly known as Am Monadh Ruadh (the Red Hills) rather than the Cairngorms. Cairn Gorm is the most prominent of the Cairngorm mountains in the view from Speyside, but it is not the highest.
The mountain road was quite twisty and we had to go through a few snow gates but we got to the parking area – and it started raining.
We took funicular up, as far as it would let us go. In the winter, skiers can go higher.
The funicular railway operates by ‘hauling’ up one carriage using electric motors to pull the haul rope as the other carriage descends at the same time. The system is powered by two stationary in series 500 kW electric motors, a gear box and a ‘soft start-soft stop’ control system which can increase the electrical frequency and vary the current and voltage to control the carriage speeds as they approach or leave a station. An hydraulically operated ‘counter’ rope is connected to both carriages to maintain haul rope tension. The two carriages are permanently connected by the haul rope and the counter rope and can never operate independently.
The funicular railway system is normally operated from a manned control room within the Ptarmigan building but can also be operated from the Base station control room or from each railway carriage. There are dedicated sophisticated computer control, instrumentation, communication and safety systems for the railway which have a range of back up systems and there are also standby generators and manual back up systems for moving the carriages.
At the top, they had a very nice display, including a replica of the funicular car – complete with working horn, which children delighted in honking over and over.
There was a short video and information about a huge snowstorm which had covered the funicular and the first floor of the station.
We also learned about the Big Grey Man of Ben MacDhui.
Am Fear Liath Mòr (Scottish Gaelic pronunciation: [əm fɛɾ ʎiə moːɾ]; also known as the Big Grey Man of Ben MacDhui or simply the Greyman) is the name of a presence or creature which is said to haunt the summit and passes of Ben Macdui, the highest peak of the Cairngorms and the second highest peak in Scotland (and also in the British Isles).
It has been described as an extremely tall figure covered with short hair, or as an unseen presence that causes uneasy feelings in people who climb the mountain. Evidence of the existence of this creature is limited to various sightings and a few photographs of unusual footprints.
It is traditionally seen as a supernatural being, but Am Fear Liath Mòr has been compared to the Yeti of the Himalaya and the Sasquatch or Bigfoot of North America. References to wild ‘Greymen’ in Scotland and similar creatures elsewhere in Europe, sometimes called Wudewas or ‘Wood Men’, date back to the 13th century, and are believed by some to represent relict hominids.
We went through the giftshop – of course. You always have to go through the giftshop to enter or leave anywhere that tourists might be.
We had lunch at the The Ptarmigan Restaurant, which is the highest restaurant in the UK. The Ptarmigan offers great panoramic views down to Loch Morlich and across to Ben Nevis (Ben Nevis is an Anglicization of the Scottish Gaelic name “Beinn Nibheis”. “Beinn” is the most common Gaelic word for “mountain”) and Ben Hope (Scottish Gaelic: Beinn Hòb).
I had Mac and cheese with slices of tomato and chips (fries) and Tom had chili over rice. The TV was showing Benedict Cumberbatch complaining about fans taking cellphone pictures while he was acting in Hamlet.
The TV also showed stories on milk prices, nightclub owners complaining about losing business to festivals, the Ferguson shooting.
We went to the observation deck. It was still raining but I went out, anyway.
We had to go back through the restaurant to get to the funicular and ran into the waiter from yesterday. What are the odds of that?
We took the Funicular down instead of walking, since it was raining so hard. Just before we got to the bottom station, we stopped. The operator said it was because the other car wasn’t at the top yet, which is when I learned that funiculars could be operated by a counterweight.
A funicular (/fjʉˈnɪkjʉlər/), also known as an inclined plane or cliff railway, is a cable railway in which a cable attached to a pair of tram-like vehicles on rails moves them up and down a steep slope, the ascending and descending vehicles counterbalancing each other. Funiculars of one sort or another have existed for hundreds of years and continue to be used for moving both passengers and goods. Its name derives from the latin, funiculus, diminutive of funis, meaning “rope”.
We drove back through the pouring rain and it was nap time!
We woke up about 7pm and went to reception for to report that the sunroom heater stopped heating, then off to Tesco for groceries. This time, we took bags since they weren’t eager to give us any yesterday.
Then, back to reception to find out about where the laundry facilities were.
Our dinner was soup and potato salad since we’d had peanut butter sandwiches earlier.
On TV – same Benedict story as we’d see on the mountain, followed by tattoo fixers.
I’d planned on going to bed but then there was David Attenborough showing us the animals he’d take if he had an ark. We’d talked about him earlier since he had been prominently featured in a brochure onRothiemurchus and here he was on tv.
Then, there was a show on hormones, including Dr. Harvey Cushing, then a show on tower (bell) ringing. Aach.
I finally got to bed at 1:30am
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: