Scottish Roadtrip 2013 Day 3: Graduation

The reason the whole of my family had come up to Scotland was my little brothers PHD graduation, after 8 years studying in St Andrews he is now a Dr of maths.

As Jen and I didn’t have tickets for the graduation ceremony we had some free time in the morning for a drive to pick up some whisky from the Edradour distillery near Pitlochry and some smoked salmon from Dunkeld Smoked Salmon. At the distillery I was surprised to see the car park full of German cars, buses and motorbikes, including a very nice Austin Healy 3000, it’s good to see such a small distillery being so popular. On the other hand the smoke house was empty, tucked away in a scruffy yard behind some houses, but the sample of hot smoked salmon we were offered was gorgeous and the letter from the queen, proudly displayed on the wall, reassured me of the quality of their produce. We were also treated to a quick tour of the smokehouse, the father & son team that run it were obviously very proud of their business.

We tried to take the coast road to St Andrews, but managed to miss a turn AGAIN, so ended up going through Cupar, which was still better than taking the dual carriageway via Dundee. We met the rest of the family outside the graduation, took some photos, then went to a garden party, the pub and eventually to Ziggys. My Dad had been hyping up for a while, so I was expecting big things – especially in regard to portion size. Ziggys lived up to the hype, I had a burger with haggis an Scottish cheddar, which was very tasty.

Dr Simon and his girlfriend went off to the graduation ball and we came back to Perth, again trying to take the coastal route, but missing a turning!

In all it was a great day and I am proud of Dr Simon, but don’t tell him that.

Mileage so far: 715

Scottish Roadtrip 2013 Day 2: Highland Hoon

Our first full day in Scotland had been set aside for exploring in the MX-5, to say I’d been looking forward to it would be an understatement!

We woke up late after a well deserved lie in, to see rain; undeterred we set off to the Baxters shop at Blackford for breakfast. I’d heard tales of enormous pancakes, so had to investigate – I wasn’t disappointed, the pancakes had the thickness of American pancakes, but were the circumference of French crepes, and served with bacon and maple syrup they made for a perfect breakfast!

Suitably fuelled, we continued on towards Loch Katrin in the Loch Lomond and The Trossachs National Park. Unfortunately, when we got there it was still raining, so it was decided that we should save the steam boat trip along the narrow tree lined loch for a future visit and got back into the car before we got bitten by too many midges. Loch Katrin is also at the north end of the Duke’s Pass, an alpine style road with plenty of switchback hairpins, which was great fun in the little Mazda!

At the end of the Duke’s Pass I took a wrong turn, instead of running along the bottom of Loch Lomond we ended up at Bearsden (on the edge of Glasgow) – ooops. To get back on track we took the A82 alongside Loch Lomond, although most of the way up we couldn’t see it. Fed up of the main roads we decided to add an extra loop onto our tour, so turned left towards Inveraray, a small town on the shore of Loch Fyne I remembered from a childhood holiday.

It was at about this point that the scenery got really spectacular, at one point all we could see were hills covered in pine trees fading into the mist with the road leading through them. When we came out the other side we were on the shores of Loch Fyne, which I can confirm does actually have a Loch Fyne restaurant. We parked up by the harbour in Inveraray, had a quick walk around and an ice cream (jammie dodger flavour!), but didn’t hang around due to the weather.

From Inveraray we took the A819 north, towards Loch Awe and the A85, which was another typical highland road – brilliant for driving in the MX-5! Then, rather than taking the A85 all the way back to Perth, we took the A827 along the top of Loch Tay to Aberfeldy, which was another good road, but spoilt by traffic – the locals are good at letting faster traffic past but tourists seemed oblivious to us. After Aberfeldy we took the A826 through the pine forests and onto the moorland to meet the A822 to take us into Dunkeld, then down the A9 to Perth, the sun had even made an appearance for the last leg of our drive!

We rounded off a great day, with dinner at Breazh, our favourite French restaurant in Perth, then a drink at The Grouse Bar (in the old Famous Grouse head office) while waiting for the rest of the family to join us in Perth.

Mileage so far 585.

Scottish Roadtrip 2013 Day 1: M6

Unlike last year’s Scottish Roadtrip the M6 was clear and we made good progress towards Perth, our base for this trip. I’d taken the afternoon off work, so was able to detail the MX5 and pack at my leisure, while Jen has been on a course in Cambridge all day and had already spent a long time on the road, so the favourable traffic conditions were welcome!

In the end we made the journey in five and a half hours, our best time yet, thanks to no accidents and minimal roadworks.

Mileage so far 352.