Having relaxed and in holiday mood, we felt we couldn’t
travel up to the Highlands without visiting Edinburgh. We
stayed at the Sheraton Grand, which is conveniently located
near The Royal Mile and the Castle, which is built on the
core of an extinct volcano and dominates the town.
Almost opposite the hotel is also a stop for the ‘hop-on,
hop-off’ city bus tour. Edinburgh is built on hills, so sensible
walking shoes are advisable. Slightly away from the centre of
town, but well worth the effort, is the Royal Yacht Britannia,
moored at Leith docks. It is still furnished as it was when the
Royal Family used it, with family photographs on the wall,
and is a real eye opener.
Robbie Burns, the 18th century poet, stayed on The
Royal Mile, which is now the location of a Writer’s Museum
dedicated to him, Scott and Stevenson. On display is Burns’
Masonic memorabilia. He was a member of the Canongate
Lodge, which is affiliated with Kilwinning Lodge, the senior
Masonic Lodge in Scotland.
If you are fortunate enough to get a table, the intimate
Witchery restaurant, taking its name from the witches burned
at the stake during the 16th and 17th centuries, is housed in
a 16th century building virtually at the gates of the Castle.
Although this is very much a tourist destination, the food
and service are excellent, but don’t expect much change from
a £100 for a meal for two with wine!
A bonus to staying at the Sheraton is their amazing health
spa, One. Apart from the usual attractions you would expect to
find, it also has lots of different things such as mint, and a tropical
fruity scent in the showers. The various steam rooms also
have different aromas. The pièce de resistance, however, is the
outdoor, warm-water hydropool, cut into the rooftop of the
building, which has a 35 degree temperature all year round.
From Edinburgh, we made our way to Pithlochry to stay
at the Easter Dunfallandy country house bed-and-breakfast.
I had been assured that Scotland had some really excellent
b&bs, and we were not disappointed. One of the perks of
staying at a b&b is having a home-cooked breakfast. The
house, which has wonderful views, is near the Blair Atholl
distillery, which you can visit, but secluded up a gravel road.
We wanted to eat somewhere typically Scottish, and were
recommended to the Old Armoury restaurant. A real delight,
as it is set in a woodland setting, although just off the high
street. The chef is the owner, with his wife front-of-house.
The tables are covered with tartan table clothes, with a small
menu that includes traditional dishes such as haggis with neeps
and tatties, but cooked with originality.
After dinner, we walked down to their famous dam on
the River Tummel, which has an artificial ladder so that the
salmon can get up the river to spawn. We were able to look in
the special viewing chamber at the fish working their way up
the ladder. The area is wonderful for walking. Pithlochry is
built on the Craigower Hills, and their 18-hole golf course
presents a real challenge, as the first four holes are very steep.
The town is well-known for its Festival Theatre season which
runs from May to September.
Left: Inverlochy Castle Hotel in the shadow of Ben Nevis
Below: The beauty of the Rothiemurchus Estate
Web site created by Mark Griffin