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Issue 60 - A Traveller's Delight

Scotland Magazine Issue 60
December 2011

 

This article is 5 years old and some information provided may be time sensitive. Please check all details of events, tours, opening times and other information before travelling or making arrangements.

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A Traveller's Delight

The allure of travelling through Scotland

A recent trip through the Highlands got me thinking about the Grand Tour; not the trip that aspiring gentlemen and ladies took round the globe, but the journey through Scotland.

It was a bit of a whistle stop tour up from Glasgow, across the Lecht and into the heart of Speyside finally stopping at that grand dame of a Highland hotel, the Craigellachie.

The hotel has had a rough few years recently but now it is in the hands of new owners and hopefully it will soon be restored to its former glory. Already there are expansion plans afoot with a new bar being created downstairs, and the whisky bar is still drawing people in, so the course for its revival is clearly on course.

One thing that did spring to mind as I was travelling was how the roads and scenery have not really changed, just the means of our conveyance.

These days you can admire the glorious countryside from the air-conditioned comfort of your vehicle; but I think this misses out on a fundamental part of the experience.

I remember once travelling roughly the same route a few years ago, not long after a couple of days of rain. I opened the car window and the smells that filled the car were incredible: a 1970s coconut suntan lotion note coming from the broom, deep earthy tones with that slight peated tinge and a metallic mineral edge as you cross rivers. For me this is all part of the travelling through Scotland experience.

Plenty of people have fallen for this experience, from Dr Johnson and Boswell to Thomas Pennant; Queen Victoria to the current Royals, have all come under this beautiful land's spell.

Undoubtedly one of the more impressive accounts came from Dorothy Wordsworth, wife of the eminent poet William. The couple, together with fellow wordsmith Samuel Coleridge, they made a six week tour of the country.

Venturing to Scotland in 1803 was not an easy trip and the trio would experience much of the rougher nature of Scottish life. The roads were poor and dangerous or mere cattle-paths requiring a local guide. Dorothy notes the road quality along each segment from "most excellent", "roughish", to "very bad" to "wretchedly bad".

It seems not much has changed once you venture off the beaten track, but that is the allure of this great country.