Woke up bright and early, had breakfast, packed and tidied up and left for Islay at 8:25. A bit later than planned but with still enough time to stop along the way to the ferry. We headed towards Campbeltown past Loch Long where Farslane is situated. This Loch is open to the sea and therefore salt water and tidal. It leads to the Firth of Clyde which is the main sea route to Glasgow. We went past Loch Goill and stopped at Loch Fyne Oyster Bar, Restaurant and Delicatessen. We had espressos and Scottish tablet. This Loch is the longest in Scotland and was once full of herring and oysters. Due to overfishing there are now only aquaculture fishing enterprises for oysters and salmon. We stopped in Inverary at the harbour and drove up to the Castle. The £10 entry fee meant we did not go in. We put £10 fuel into the car. It costs £1.139/l! We bought rolls and an apple at Londis. At 39p it better be a good apple. At 11am the weather turned windy with warnings that ferry services might be affected. We drove the Kintyre Trail and stopped at Tarbert which is a working harbour. The Castle’s ‘keystone’ was used to build the harbour once the castle fell into disrepair in the 1400’s. We had espressos and shortbread at Cafe Ca’ Ora before heading past the West Loch to the Island Ferries. Kennacraig is just a ferry terminal and we caught the Eileanan Innse Gall to Islay. There were lots of long swells on the way. We got off at Port Askaig where the weather was windy but warm (18 degrees). We then drove from the North of the island southwards to Port Ellen. Just after the airfields are the Laphroaig peat fields. Peat is harvested from April to September and left to the elements to provide the smoke needed for the whisky. Our first stop was at Lagavulin which was founded in1816. This is nothing more than a whisky store and not worth the stop unless you want to do a tour. Next stop was Ardbeg, founded in 1815. There is a wash still at the entrance. The shop is good, but the prices the same as at home. The coffee shop staff are totally disinterested in helping us, so we make our way to Laphroaig. Also founded in 1815, however they were probably making whisky long before that. This is the only alcohol which could be sold during prohibition in the United States as it was sold for medicinal purposes. We claimed our rent on our land and then tasted the 10 year old against the Triplewood. This is a blend of the PX and QA sherry wood whisky’s which are then placed into virgin oak. We bought a bottle for £42.90 less my birthday discount. We also were given 2 miniatures of the 10 year old as rent! This is the only whisky to hold a Royal warrant and the estate was privately owned until 1968. Well worth a visit to walk around the museum, have a tasting or do a tour. We drove back alongside the Mull of Oa and turned down towards
Scarrabus and checked in at Skerrols House. We are in the king room tonight and it’s luxurious to say the least. We relaxed and then headed to Port Charlotte to have dinner at the restaurant at the Port Charlotte Hotel. The sheep roam freely here and graze in open, unfenced fields along the water. Dinner was fantastic – a review to follow on my blog.
We were up slightly earlier this morning but loafed for a bit, reading and drinking coffee. After omelettes for breakfast we headed into Aberfoyle to buy lunch provisions. We then drove to the Loch Ard Forest and parked the car. We walked the Sculpture Trail and had lunch in the car park. Then back in to Aberfoyle for ice cream. Chocolate for me and Scottish tablet for Dave. We walked through the village before heading back to the apartment to relax with some Raven Ale. We walked 8km today which is a good thing as tomorrow we will be in the car for a long while. We’ve paid our bar bill and the electricity and started packing. Amazing how quick the time has flown. After coffee we went to check emails and then came back to the apartment to relax. We went to a whisky tasting which I will blog about in depth. It was very interesting and entertaining and at £2 each for 4 wee nips, an absolute bargain. We had venison steaks with shallot and tomato sauce, and broccoli and cheese for dinner and finished off the bottle of wine. Cheese and biscuits ended our meal.
Another late start for us to our day. Omelettes for breakfast before heading out. It’s cold and overcast again. We went back over Dukes Pass and parked at the Ben Venue parking to do the Ben A’an walk. There is a diversion in place but we could not access the walk as the start was bogged down. Instead we did a 20 minute hill walk. We drove back to Aberfoyle and went to the butcher and then to Liz MacGregor’s Coffee Shop for espressos. We bought venison at the Aberfoyle Delicatessen and Trossachs Butcher before doing the Riverside Walk. We went all the way to the Rob Roy Hotel and back. We caught the end of the Runner Duck show – three runner ducks being sheparded around an obstacle course. We came back to the apartment for lunch and an email break. We headed out to Ledard Farm to walk up the hill to see the waterfalls and then back down to the Wee Blether. This time we shared a scone with jam and cream! We walked to the Bridge of Chon and back to the hotel. There is a small waterfall here so we walked up alongside it. This afternoon we walked close to 6km. Dave had a half pint of the Belhaven Best and I had The Balvenie Double Wood 12 year old. Tonight we got snacks with our drinks in the cocktail lounge! We shared a bottle of Aspall Suffolk premier cru cyder while Dave cooked dinner. Wine for dinner was Côtes Du Rhône 2014. Dinner was Cumberland sausages with crumbly black pudding, leek and mushroom sauce and courgettes. Followed by blueberries with cream and cheese and biscuits.
We had a nice sleep in this morning and then scrambled eggs with mushrooms and bacon for breakfast. It’s rained overnight and the sky is very cloudy this morning. After shopping for lunch in Aberfoyle we went over Dukes Pass to Loch Katrine. We did a 50 minute walk next to the Loch and went to the top of Glen Finglass Falls. The Loch provides water to Glasgow. Our next stop was the Brig o’Turk Tea Room which was established in 1923. We had espressos and shared a cream tea which was not as good as any we’ve had to date. We then made our way to Callander where we had lunch next to the water, before walking up and down the main road. We walked to Bracklinn Falls. The old iron bridge was destroyed in a flash flood in 2004 and replaced with a modern structure. On the road to Stirling we stopped at the Scottish Antiques and Art Centre. After a look at various items we made our way to Deanston Distillery. This is in Doune on the River Teith and is a converted cotton mill. After 180 years the mill closed in 1965 and was opened the following year as a distillery. 80% of their whisky is blended, including their own label of Scottish Leader. We tasted their single malt virgin oak and the 12 year old, which we bought. This is aged in bourbon casks and cost £37! We had espressos in the coffee brothy before heading to Stirling to do shopping. Today we walked just over 9km. Tonight’s whisky is Cragganmore 12 year old for Dave and Dalmore 12 year old for me. Wine is Mondelli Montepulciano D’Abruzzo from Italy. Dinner was four cheese tortolloni with a vegetarian sauce. This was followed by strawberries and cream and then cheese and biscuits.
After a relaxing start to our day and super sized omelettes we left the apartment at 10:30. We stopped in Aberfoyle to get a baguette and some ham and pâté for lunch and then headed up the road half a block! The road to Callandar was closed due to a police accident. Our plans for the day changed we headed toward Glasgow. Our first distillery visit was to Glengoyne which was established in 1833. They have a time capsule buried representing the typical pub from 1983 with 12 items in a whisky barrel. There is a waterfall and stream leading to the distillery. The whisky is unpeated and aged in sherry barrels. Here you can fill your own bottles and there are various tours on offer. We didn’t do one as we’ve already had an extensive distillery tour at Edradour on our last visit. We then turned back the way we had come and turned towards Drymen. Our destination Loch Lomand which is part of the Trossachs National Park. We stopped at Auchentullich farm shop for espressos and bought some leeks. We stopped at Luss where they are filming a period piece. Whisky Door (?) forms part of the £45 million industry in Scotland. We had lunch at the start of the Pilgrimage Pathway Project and then went to the Loch Lomand Arms Hotel for a half pint – which is cheaper than espresso! Dave had the Southern Summit which was quite fruity and I had the Lochtoberfest festival ale. Both were from the Loch Lomand Brewery. We drove past the power station at Inveruglas that we had seen yesterday from Inversnaid. We rounded the north end of the Loch and then stopped at the Falls of Falloch. The next Loch was Lubhair and then Loch Lubnaig. We had a short walk and Kilmahog before going past Loch Venachar and Loch Achray. We made our way back to Aberfoyle, to the Aberfoyle Butcher. He’s been in business for 26 years and kindly opened up for us. We bought locally reared pork chops – free range for dinner. Then we went to The Wee Tablet where I got a Scottish tablet ice cream, and Dave the raspberry ripple. We came back to the apartment and Dave went to gym while I blogged 🙂 We then went to the cocktail lounge. Dave had a Glengoyne 15 year old and I had the Jura Superstition. We are drinking Innis and Gunn ‘the original’ beer with dinner tonight. We had black pudding, asparagus and shitake mushrooms with our chops and then strawberries and cream for dessert. Cheese and biscuits ended off our meal.
Our day started with eggs, black pudding and kippers for breakfast. At 10am we headed out for a walk to Kinlochard. We walked around the Loch and then up the mountain on the Couliegarten walk which gave stunning views over the area. This is a 2.5 mile walk and quite steep. We then stopped at the Wee Blether Tearoom for the largest fruit scone I’ve seen! That sufficed for lunch. We then came back to the lodge – having walked over 7km’s. We caught the end of the welcome talk and then had a bit of R and R in the apartment. We headed to Aberfoyle to watch the Italian Grand Prix but Dave had worked out the time wrong and we walked into the pub just as the race ended. So, we went to the Wallace Bar at the Forth Inn. Dave had a Jaw Brew Fathom and I had a Thistly Cross. After walking around Aberfoyle we drove to Stronachlachar and on to Loch Katrine. We had espressos at Pier Cafe and then drove past Loch Arklet where there are waterworks, to Inversnaid and Loch Lomand. We walked to the waterfall at Craigoston Woods and to Rob Roy’s view point. We then drove back to the apartment having walked a total of 9.75 km! Had a glass of Hobgoblin Ale before dinner. Watched the F1 highlights package. Very interesting to watch 53 laps in 7.5 minutes. Supper tonight was Scottish lamb loin chops, leeks and stuffed mushrooms. We went to the Hotel so Dave could check emails and then back to the apartment for cheese and biscuits.
Woke up just after 7 and had a slow start to the morning. We had breakfast at The Square Edinburgh. Dave chose the mini Scottish breakfast, Mark a morning roll with double bacon and I had the porridge. Went to the Scottish National Museum. After a short walk around we headed towards Grassmarket. We bought cheese at IJ Mellis. Mark found Steampunk Coffee which is the perfect gift for the wedding couple as it’s the theme of their ceremony. At Grassmarket we tasted and bought Mead from a young man dressed for the occasion. We also spent £5.90 on a fair amount of vegetables. Our coffee stop was at a pub established in 1516! After the White Hart we went to the Castle Terrace market. We then walked back to Stockbridge and headed towards York Place. We had lunch at Jekyll & Hyde. I had a half pint of Highland IPA, Dave a half pint Guinness and Mark a pint of Innis & Gunn which was the best choice. So far today we’ve walked nearly 6km. The boys had pulled pork panini’s and I had a loaded potato. It’s sad that our time with Mark is coming to an end! Got back to the hotel and collected our luggage, hugged Mark goodbye and got straight onto the tram. The trip is 40 minutes and there is free WiFi on board. The tram goes to Murrayfield which must be a pleasure for the spectators. We arrived at Europcar at about 14:05 and took a ticket. After a 10 minute wait we were told there were no cars available and we would be given the next one to become available. An hour later we were called for our car – a Kia Venga and we were off. Stopped in Stirling to do shopping for the basics, dinner, breakfast and some beer, cider and wine and then drove to MacDonald Forest Arms. Checked in, schlepped the bags and shopping up to the 3rd floor and unpacked. The view from our apartment is amazing, trees and Loch Ard and it’s so quiet. Went for a drink in the cocktail bar. Old Pulteney 12 year old for me, and the Three Wood for Dave. Wine tonight is Chateau de Fauzan Minervois 2013. On the menu is spinach and ricotta tortellini with a vegetable sauce. After cheese and biscuits I decided it was bed time. We have twin beds which at least means no fighting over the duvet.