On the morning of Friday, June 6th, we had to wake ourselves up early for the first time on the trip. Most of the wonderful places that the we lodged in offerred a special breakfast, and Ethie was no exception. Check-out time was 10:30, and breakfast at 9:00, so with a little bit of effort I rolled out of bed and took a shower. (Which I had no trouble with, incidentally, but I guess I must have used all of the hot water, because Glenn had an icy shower that morning.)
Our breakfast was great. I don’t know if Yvonne does all of the cooking at Ethie, or if she has magic helpers in her kitchen, but the dining there was excellent. We got a little messed up, though, when Yvonne asked us if we preferred our eggs “bouncy” or “soft”. We assumed that this was the Scottish equivalent of “hard” or “runny”, but when we tried asking for “bouncy eggs” at our other lodgings, we were greeted with suspicious looks. We eventually came to the conclusion that this was a “Yvonne-ism”, and abandoned the term.
After breakfast, we packed our bags, but decided to take anothe walk around the grounds. It was still foggy, and I still felt like Jane Eyre. This was when I got the picture of the synchronized cow dance:
I’m not sure what to say, other than that they must have had identical itches at the same time.
After saying our farewell to Yvonne, we found the main road and drove north. Our first destination for this day was Dunnottar Castle. Or more accurately, the ruins of Dunnottar Castle. I had seen quite a few pictures of Dunnottar while we were planning our trip, and I was expecting something dramatic.
I was not disappointed.
Dunnottar was actually one of the highlights of the trip. We loved it. There was something magical about it. I think it’s a combination of things – the dramatic ruined stones, definitely the location (it sits on a huge outcropping of rock on the coast of the North Sea) and the hundreds of gulls flying around, all contributed to make Dunnottar one of those places that you can never forget.
We were actually in awe, so much so that we stopped talking for a few minutes, and just soaked it all in. I decided then and there that if Glenn and I ever renewed our wedding vows, it would be at Dunnottar.
After we left Dunnottar, we lunch in a little seaside town called Stonehaven. We found a great restaurant, quite accidentally. It was called the “Art Deco Carron” restaurant, and we were really impressed. The side of the restaurant facing the sidewalk was nothing special, and we were hoping for a sandwich and a cold drink. What we found when we walked in was something different altogether. As a matter of fact, I felt underdressed in my street clothes, and wondered if they would let us in for lunch. But they did, and it was fab. Glenn had lobster here, which, considering the fact that we were practically in the North Sea, was quite fresh and delicious.
After lunch we made our way northwest. toward the town of Grantown on Spey. Our lodging for the night was the Tigh-na-Sgiath Country House Hotel. We didn’t have a specific dinner planned for this night, so we weren’t rushed. We had been told that the hotel offered find dining, so we were hoping to make it in time for dinner. One thing that had become more and more obvious to us as we drove into the more rural areas was that we should take our dinners and breakfasts at our hotels, considering the fact that restaurants in the highlands are somewhat few and far between.
On our way to Grantown on Spey we passed through the area known as the “Royal Deeside”, named such because it was a favorite area of the British Royals in the 1800’s, and there are a plethora of castles throughout the rolling hills. We enjoyed seeing the River Dee:
We followed the Dee River for quite a while, but then our path took us northward. It was here that we first had to stop our car, to make way for the sheep that had wandered into the road. I was excited by this. Somehow to me this was a clear sign that we were finally getting into the Highlands. I took this shot from the car window:
Eventually we found the Tigh-na-Sgiath Hotel. This was actually one of my favorite places, as far as lodging. The home was beautiful, and I’m pretty sure that we had the best room in the house. There are advantages to booking early.
We did make it there in time for dinner, which was excellent, by the way. Breakfast the next morning was top notch as well. We were beginning to relax a little, where the food was concerned; every meal up to this point had been fantastic, and we began to realize that we weren’t going to starve while visiting Scotland.
So I’ve probably posted enough about Day 4. It was a great day, one that took us from the salty air of the North Sea and the magic of Dunnottar, to the Royal Deeside, and to the sweeping hills of the Highlands. Only four days had past, and we felt that we’d seen so much, but we still had many days ahead of us.