6/9/14 - 7/9/14
After breakfast, we were off on our walk! Leo the Peugeot was left to have a well-earned rest as we commenced the Speyside Way. Except that it took us a little while to work out where the Way actually began... but with the help of a few well-placed landmarks (including a trampoline) we sorted ourselves out.
We walked along the trail in the sunshine and gentle cool breeze, and congratulated ourselves for picking such a wonderful time of year to come to the UK. At a suitably picturesque bridge, we had a makeshift picnic - banana, peanut butter cups and whisky! The first town we encountered was Dufftown, and shortly after that we were lured into the grounds of the Balvenie Distillery by the grand gardens and friendly 'visitors' signs. Unfortunately, just when we got in sight of said Distillery, we also got in sight of a rather unnecessarily aggressive sign that indicated that we should not proceed any further without a booking. Fine.
Thankfully it wasn't much further to Glenfiddich - an incredibly welcoming alternative! The buildings were quaint and spread out like a village, and we half expected to see oompa loompas emerging to greet us. No oompa loompas, but they did have delicious soup while we waited for our tour. The guide was an elderly lady with a quirky sense of humour and just a hint of green in her white hair. We all put our noses to the test and worked out the differences between bourbon barrels and sherry barrels - quite a marked distinction! At the tastings, we all discovered that we like Glendfiddich (and Belinda wondered why Pat had never introduced this to her).
We then took a rather convoluted route to Balvenie Castle, via some hairy coos (which intimidated Neville, but were more than happy to pose for Belinda). The castle was covered in scaffolding, and was not as impressive as others we had seen so we moved on.
And the rain moved in - and stayed in! Well, we didn't buy raincoats for nothing, and now we got to put them to good use. Through sludge and mud and nettles we climbed uphill but oh the views! Spectacular. We then approached a forest which apparently looked like something out of Harry Potter. We half expected to be eaten by a giant spider but the closest we got was nearly stepping on huge slugs. After the forest came what seemed to be the longest mile ever, and then we had arrived in Aberlour. We set a cracking pace for the final 2 miles - by then we were feeling a bit tired and hungry, and we made it back to our hotel in a record 35 minutes.
But when we arrived at our hotel, there were no tables available for dinner. All reserved. Despite the fact our tour information stated that this hotel didn't take reservations. Hmph. We walked up the road to the other hotel in town - kitchen closed. Not even any crisps! Waaaaaah! Looked like we would have to go to Aberlour. I went back to eat a Walker's shortbread biscuit before my hunger got out of control, but then we discovered we COULD have a table if we waited 15 minutes. Done! We devoured our meals, and gave our weary legs a rest