Thursday 20th April 2017

A Trip to Ballater with Billy

221 miles

At last a long scooter trip! The forecast for the North was poor, for the West was poor but for the East was not bad so I did this trip yet again but this time with my brother, Billy. Its great to be back scootering.

Bill came for me about 9.00 am and after a few preparations we were off. We headed down the Struie Road, cut off to Evanton to avoid as much as much of the A9 as possible and across the Cromarty Bridge onto the Black Isle. Here we cut up to Culbokie, turned right and then took first left at the shop. This took us over the Black Isle to Munlochy. Then to avoid the A9 we went by Drumsmittal to near Kessock rejoining the A9 and over the Kessock Bridge.

We headed out to the Aberdeen road and cut off for Ardersier. This again gets us off the busier A96. When you are limited to about 45 mph then you have to keep off busy roads. We stopped between Ardersier and Nairn for a wee picnic. Both Bill and I ate four pork pies during the course of the day! Half the joy of such a trip is eating rubbish!

We came back onto the Aberdeen road to get through Nairn and on the far side of Nairn branched off to take us on a road the comes out at Brodie back onto the A96. Bill picked up petrol in Forres.

We passed through Forres taking the right turn on the High Street onto the B91010. This took us out past Dallas, Cardow and Archiestown to Craigellachie. These are taken beyond Dallas.

Hard men! Old men!

Ben Rinnes is showing.

We stopped at Craigellachie Bridge.

Ben Rinnes.

I love the road, now. Just beyond Cragellachie we turned left to go to Dufftown, through Dufftown again going left and then right onto the Cabrach road, the A941. This is just a lovely route. Here is the old house at Bridgend.

And a lovely old telephone kiosk without a telephone!

At Cabrach we then turned right onto the B9002 to Lumsden and stopped on it to have our lunch picnic. No cars passed all the time we were here. Just lovely.

I had to get a picture of the ‘up helmets’. Man we are getting old!

We branched off to Mossat where we stopped at the antique shop and I bought a few wee presents. I even generously bought Billy a wee old bottle. We then followed the signs to Ballater. We stopped by this loch to get some pictures.

And then got to Ballater our furthest out part of the journey. The last time I did this I went through the Pass of Ballater and missed the village. So it was good to do it properly!

We took a wee ramble to see Ballater. We went over the bridge.

The daffodils are just wonderful just now.

And went up the village to the church.

Then it was time to turn back following the signs for Tomintoul. This is the A939. The bridge over the River Gairn is lovely. All the way from Ballater to here we were following a German bus on the single track roads. The driver was useless. He would not let us pass. That is the rule on our Scottish single track roads – let the faster traffic pass. Well this ‘Krout’ driver had other ideas. He eventually stopped before the bridge so we passed him and stopped for a picnic. To our horror just as we sat down all the ‘Krouts’ on the bus got off and surrounded us taking pictures right left and centre. I’m sure I’m in some of their holiday snaps. The German driver though must be some drive because he took the bus over the bridge. I thought it wouldn’t fit!

Bill conquering the bridge over the River Gairn.

Then we moved on to Cockbridge and stopped to get some pictures.

Corgarth Castle.

And then over the Lecht. Poor Bill. I felt so sorry for him. My wee bike struggled uphill and into the wind at just 25 – 30 mph. Bill stopped to get some pictures and video and then caught me up. He had climbed at 70 mph! I suppose you get what you pay for. But I do love my wee scooter.

Bill took this one of me travelling up to the ski centre.

The top of the Lecht is really horrible. There was no snow whatsoever. It must have been a really poor winter for skiing, its been so mild.

This is two of Billy’s selfies! What pride has he in his appearance? I mean look at the way his off the nose glasses are fitting! Maybe he doesn’t really see what he’s taking.

We went onto Tomintoul.

This ‘selfie’ – the only part of self is my shoulder!

We stopped for some pictures on the road to Grantown. We started to run into very light drizzle from time to time.

And we arrive at Grantown on Spey. Now here is where things get nasty. We weren’t hungry but felt a Chinese carry-out would be jolly nice. I should have remembered the last time I was here. 

So we went to a Chinese takeaway and both ordered Chow mein. The people were very nice, it took a wee while, and then our meals were ready. We excitedly and greedily took them down to the Speyside Way to eat them.
Disaster – we forgot to ask for forks. So we fashioned what might be loosely called ‘spoons’ from the lids. Here is such a spoon. Now notice there is a bit of orange showing near the spoon. Yes, you’ve got it – a carrot. There were carrots in this Chow mein! There are also round things and oblong things.

The BBC Good Food website describes Chow mein as – ‘A classic Chinese dish of stir-fried egg noodles with shredded chicken breast – experiment with different fish, meat, or vegetables. The experiments were carried out on this one. This was something else. It was really the worst ‘Chow mein’ I’ve ever had, and Bill agreed. I couldn’t eat it all. But we had a good laugh.

Carrots, long bits of shredded turnip(?), apple come potato and very runny.

This is Bill’s take on our ‘meal’. He doesn’t pull his punches. I edited out the name of the place for Youtube.

So, with heavy stomachs we moved on in a homeward direction. This stone is before the junction at Dava. It keeps getting vandalised. That lets you know its true – Jesus saves.

And stopped a bit later where the trees start after the moor, for private reasons.

Time was getting on so we had to make more of an effort and just kept going past Cawdor, and onto behind Croy. This is the railway viaduct near there.

Now it was getting really cold. We pushed on through Inverness, over the Black Isle via Drumsmittal, Munlochy over Mount Eagle to Culbokie and then down to the Cromarty Bridge. We stopped for a last time. The wind was high. There are road works at night on the bridge. We said our fairwells here as Bill was going to motor on after Contullich making use of his faster machine.

You’d have thought Bill would have told me there was splashes of the so called ‘Chow mein’ gravy on my chin!

Bill put his balaclava on as it was so cold.

Another great trip. A really good day.