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Note #105: Scotland bound (2016.7.26)

So, at various points over the past few months, I may have hinted at something going on this summer that I would “talk about later.” Well, turns out that this something is now upon us, and I really don’t have all that much time to talk about it. In brief, we are leaving tomorrow for a two-week trip to Scotland. We will arrive in Inverness and then get on a train to Aviemore, and the following day we will begin our walk on the Speyside Way, a journey of nearly 150 kilometers. The walk can be completed within a week, but we are going to be taking it easy and doing it over a span of ten days. After all, we’re not trying to do an endurance walk—we actually want to enjoy ourselves.

Day 1 of the walk will take us from Aviemore to Nethy Bridge, and a detour along the way to the Osprey Centre at the RSPB Reserve, providing that the weather is not horrible (and there is of course no guarantee of that). Day 2 is a fairly light walk to Grantown, which is a fairly large population center for that area; there is a museum there that looks like it might be interesting. Day 3 is the second longest walk of the trip, to Ballindalloch. This is followed by the longest walk of the trip on Day 4, which at first may seem like a not-so-great idea, but we are not going to be carrying our packs on Day 4—we’re taking a taxi up from our B&B to the town of Tomintoul, from which we will walk back down, stopping at the Glenlivet Distillery for our tour along the way, and end up at our Ballindalloch B&B for a second night. By the end of the day, we will have done half of the walking for the trip.

Day Five continues with the whisky theme as we visit the Cragganmore Distillery in the morning (it’s located close to our B&B... not that that would have had anything to do with my choice of B&B, of course). We will then be walking to Aberlour, where the Mash Tun Whisky Bar & Restaurant awaits us. On the morning of Day 6 we will visit the Aberlour Distillery, followed by a very short walk (a leisurely two hours) off the main Speyside Way to Dufftown, where we will be spending the entirety of Day 7 and visiting both the Balvenie and Glenfiddich distilleries. From Dufftown we have another very short walk on Day 8 to Craigellachie, home to the famous Fiddichside Inn. We’ll also be stopping at the Speyside Cooperage—after all that whisky, we figure it would be neat to see how they make all those barrels. Day 9 will begin with a trip to the nearby Macallan Distillery, followed by a walk to Fochabers, possibly with a short detour to a formation called the Earth Pillars along the way. Day 10, our final day of the walk, will take us to Spey Bay, where there is a whale and dolphin center, and then onto to the walk’s end (or start, since a lot of people do the walk the opposite way) at Buckie.

So: 10 days, 145 kilometers, 6 distilleries, and more whisky than you can shake a walking stick at. That’s not the end of our trip, though. Neither of us have ever been to Scotland before (I made it to Wales and Ireland when I studied in London, but never managed to make it to Scotland), so we’re heading down to Edinburgh for a few days. It so happens that the Edinburgh Fringe Festival is on at that time, so we’re looking forward to seeing some interesting performances. We’ve booked one dramatic performance and a tour, but for the rest we’re just planning on winging it—there’s a lot of free stuff going on, and a lot of pubs with live music. It should be a good time. Best of all, we won’t have to lug our packs around!

We did test packs last week, just to see how heavy our packs were going to be and whether there was any room to shave off weight. There are certain things in my load, namely my camera, that are very heavy, but I managed to get my total load (this includes water and everything) to just under 11 kilograms. I’ve walked for quite a few hours with a pack of similar weight, and it hasn’t been a problem, even going over the very rugged Korean terrain. That being said, I haven’t walked nearly 150 kilometers with a pack like that. I’m pretty confident, but we’ll see how it goes. We will be staying at B&Bs along the way as opposed to camping, and I’ve tried to structure the trip so we have time to rest along the way, so I think we’ll be OK.

I said above that we’re leaving tomorrow; actually, our plane leaves at around one in the morning on Thursday, but we will be heading to the airport tomorrow evening. In fact, this time tomorrow, we will be on the airport bus. There was a lot that I wanted to get done before this trip, because there’s a lot that needs to get done when I get back. Some of these things I got done. Some of these things I did not get done. Yet other things I need to finish up tomorrow. Such is life.

So that was the something I was talking about. See you in two weeks or so!

Send me your thoughts.

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