After attending the Ballater Highland games on Thursday, Lindsay and I set out across the country from Aberdeen once again to spend the weekend near the Cairngorm Mountains. We travelled on the old military road from Ballater to Tomintoul crossing the flowering moor in the beautiful sunshine.
Crossing the bridge over the River Gairn on the old military road is always a treat and a nice spot to get some great photos. This bridge has a very distinct arch and often times some longer vehicles bottom out on their bellies while attempting to cross because its arch is so severe! Right after the bridge the road turns sharply to the right and then begins a steady, steep climb up toward Corgarff Castle built in the mid 16th century by the Forbes of Towie & where the British military hung out after the Jacobite Rebellion of 1745 trying to spot and capture the evasive Scottish clansmen hidden in the heather on the hills.
Up at the top, the moor spreads out before us; the Heather has just turned to its purple bloom along with the beautiful flowering Scottish Harebells.
One can see forever across the hills.
Roughly 40 miles further from Tomintoul we arrived at our destination; the beautiful town of Aviemore – a well known and popular holiday destination with absolutely gorgeous scenery. Aviemore is a year round destination with snow sports being the popular winter activity and walking, climbing, biking and a whole host of other activities during the summer.
The Cairngorms National Park nearby has activities suitable for all ages and abilities including a really cool funicular railway on Cairngorm Mountain – Scotland’s only funicular railway! This is a unique visitor experience that allows people to reach the Top Station where there is an opportunity to see panoramic views from over 3,500ft and boasts the highest post box in the British Isles. (We did not go on the funicular railway this visit, but we did plan on enjoying a ride on the nostalgic steam train on the Strathspey Railway!)
After we arrived at our destination and got checked into the Park Guest House, we took a stroll around town and decided to head over to the train station to look around.
As luck would have it, the steam train had just returned from its afternoon run and the engineer was getting ready to drive the engine into the shed for the evening. We got a quick look at it before he did so.
Before the sun disappeared behind the western hills we then drove up the B970 road toward the Cairngorm National Park to Loch Morlich to get just a few more delightful views of this fantastic natural beauty.
To finish off this absolutely fantastic day we enjoyed a very nice dinner of Roast Beef with Yorkshire pudding and Fish & Chips at the Cairngorm Hotel restaurant. We also indulged ourselves with delicious desserts – Sticky Toffee Pudding and Ice Cream! Yum! A perfect ending to a perfect day!
The next morning after a very restful sleep we headed back to the station to take the 10:30 run to Broomhill. Our destination for the day was the Nethybridge Highland Games. As part of the fun, one could ride the Strathspey Railway to the games as far as Broomhill where a shuttle bus picked us up and took us the rest of the way to the games! Oh, what fun!
We arrived in plenty of time to get a good look at the train & meet the Conductors and Engineer.
Also got to get up into the engine even and watch them shovel coal into the fire box and view the controls up close! Wow!
Soon the Engineer, Jock, said it was time to climb aboard and start enjoying the train going down the tracks, hearing the whistle blow, watching the steam puffing from the engine…
…and feel the wind on my face as we made our way listening to the clickety-clack of the wheels on the track… oh be still my heart!
The Conductor, Simon, came around the punch our tickets and I was so glad to see they were pet-friendly as well!
Simon even let various people try on his Conductor’s hat and capture special & memorable moments on their cameras! Such fun!
We stopped halfway on the trip at Boat of Garten so the engine could get a drink of water. We were allowed to get off the train, stretch our legs and take a look around the old train station.
Kids of all ages were once allowed to get on the engine and blow the whistle, while a very dedicated young Piper entertained us with some great tunes!
The scenery we passed en route was extremely pastoral and plentiful. Views of the Cairngorms mountains offered up exquisite panoramic views to behold.
The end of the line for the Highland game attendees was Broomhill, also known as “GlenBogle” station on the British TV series “Monarch of the Glen.” We were part of that entourage so off we went climbing aboard shuttle buses to take us the rest of the short distance to the Friendly Highland Games at Nethybridge nearby. The rest of the passengers aboard the steam train made the return trip to Aviemore after the engine disconnected itself from the railcars, turned itself around on a turning track and pulled the cars back along the way it had come. What an adventure!
Stay tuned for my next blog post about the Nethybridge Highland games! You won’t want to miss it!