Round and about Pitlochry and Blair Atholl 2015

So it was time to get on our travels again, the sun was out it was a promising prospect of exploring Perthshire in good weather and attending the Longines FEI European Championships held over 3 days at Blair Atholl near Pitlochry. It was in fact a huge horse extravaganza including Showing..British show-jumping..a Hunter show..Highland Pony showing..and the huge annual the Bruadar Country Fair, the whole bash would last over 5 days and take over all the flat ground at Blair incorporating FIVE large centre arena’s. It would be my first time attending such a large and prestigious event and am quite looking forward to it. Also we would be doing our usual exploring of the Scottish Highlands again, this time in Perthshire. Julie came to the weekend show two years ago with her pal Rosh and had booked this event way back then. It was to cost £100 per ticket…Don’t worry, I too fell on the floor at this, and fell again when Julie said we’d paid to become members for the season and got issued with special red and gold badge’s. It actually makes sense and is cheaper in the long run to do this she assured me, urging me to get up off the floor! In with the ticket was entry as many times as one liked for 5 days, parking in the members park and is a lot closer than the oiks parking. Entry into the members tent that was at the side of the main arena plus uninterrupted outside viewing of the central arena (I was to get just feet away from the nearest jumps as it turned out) As far as I can make out we actually paid for 3 events in one..the various British horse and pony finals over 5 days..The 3 day European championships  which was Dressage on the first day X-Country the next and Show -jumping and the medals on the last day and finally the large Country Fair over 2 days. We would be staying in a cottage about 5 miles away near Loch Tummel. Rosh and hubby Ken would be in the one next door. This was on a little yellow road that went on for about 20 miles stopping at the distant Rannoch railway station on the edge of Rannoch Moor, a place I have wanted to visit for years, for no special reason but just because it was there and you could just about see it from the distant A82 just before Glen Coe, it had ben on TV once too as Britains most remote railway station. There is actually a more remote stop just a few miles up called Corrour, but there are no roads to it nor are there any houses, its just for the climbers and walkers and Billy no Mates.

So we had gone up the A1. passed through the new road layout near Scotch Corner, had turned onto the A66 to make the run North West to connect with the motorway running up the west side of England at Penrith, but first we pulled over for a cooked breakfast at the historic truck stop on the A66 its right at the highest point before the long downwards run to Brough, called The Stainmore Cafe where they cook the most fantastic grease-less cooked breakfasts you’ll ever come across and they dont charge the earth! They also have the most fantastic views on a clear day one can see over Ankengarthdale and Swaledale. With some bino’s one can just pick out the highest pub in England, called Tan Hill.  I don’t see many clear or dry days coming this way on account of height and the barren nature of the area. I ALWAYS seem to stop here on my road-trips north!

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The Stainmore Cafe 

It takes about 6 or 7 hours to get to Pitlochry area in the truck, today was no exception. Going along the A9 towards Perth I keep my eye out for the scenic route that runs up to Crieff then onto Aberfeldy, its a lot quieter and and a more pleasant road to use. Eventually we rejoin to the fast A9 just short of Pitlochry,

There are plans afoot to make the A9  a duel road and about time too! Its the only major road south to north on the east side of Scotland, the M90 motorway runs out at Perth. Did you know the north of Scotland doesn’t have a single motorway.Not that it would be much of an advantage to me in the Defender!

Julie was looking for a turn off a few miles further north after Pitlochry. It was far from the site of where that old guy with a long old grey bears is camped It appears he lives on the wide grass verge behind the lay bye on the southbound side of the A9. He has a tent and some makeshift shelter, today he had a small motorbike up for sale. I spotted him last year and again earlier this year on my way upto Orkney. One day I shall pull over for a chat and see what hes about.  The turning pointed to the hamlet of Calvine so we slowed and took it, the bridge was the only one in Great Britain Im told, its a narrow road bridge that’s over a river and directly above the road bridge is a railway bridge, all built on top of each other. It sounds a  bit odd so I took a quick photo, it was on a blind bend so not a good place to stand for long. This little B road proved quite busy at time to say to comes to a dead end 20 miles away at Rannock station makes it a bit of a mystery to begin with. The river and deep gorge is below…obviously!

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A rare coming together of road rail and river

We drove on for several miles down this lovely rural road going further and further down the valley…..Erm as we are now in Scotland perhaps I should call it a Glen now, Glen Errochty to be precise which is flanked by the Tummel Forest made up mainly of zillions of Pine trees, bit like being back in bloody Sweden! Julies memory was spot on and she soon had the place spotted just off to our right. Ken and Rosh where already here and sunning themselves on the drive waiting for us. Birch Cottage was waiting for us. So today was a nice an easy 320 miles. If you look on the map and find Pitlochry then look just to the left of it you will see a couple of long thin lakes, this is where we are, its the region of Perth and Kinross

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                                             Our bed for two weeks…Birch Cottage

I get pretty fed up when it comes to cell phones, they give you all this bloody hype about how bloody wonderful they are when actually they are bloody rubbish, when I try to use them in beautiful remote places, oh what a waste of money! I have Julie with me this time so its not a huge issue. I half expected it when we got here, the farmer told us his daughter has to go half way down the glen to get a signal and the only signal half decent here is EE. The TV wasnt working either, its a problem with the cable and “someone” will be coming out on Monday to fix it. There was a cheap and cheerful CD player so at least we could watch a movie, Julie suggested we bring a few films just in case…..Thank God for Julie and her “pragmatic just in case-ness” The lights in the cottage..I say cottage, its not a cottage at all its a semi detached bungalow so called a cottage for advertising purposes! The place was fitted throughout with those bloody useless energy efficient twirly light bulbs, It was brighter down the sodding pit!! I was really struggling to read anything in the Victorian dimness! The final nail was that sofa, it was the most uncomfortable “leather” suite Id every sat on and resulted in my bloody old neck injury returning every morning, a mild irritation I grant you but an bloody irritation all the same. Its just me I suppose, and to be fair at first glance the place looked very nice, in fact the old boy from the farm quite agreed especially about the crap lights, in fact he came round with a bedroom table lamp for me to borrow, what a top man!

Outside was a different story, Opposite was part of Tay Forest Park. It was magnificent scenery as soon as one stepped out the front door, what better sight than the Land Rover and a valley of green trees and lush green fields, the bird table was topped up by Ken and we were treated to the site of Finches..Great Tits.. Blue Tits.. Coal Tits..a Tree Creeper..and dozens of Chaffinches…a hare hopped by the front one evening much to the daft dogs delight. Most mornings saw the hills seemingly leaking smoke into the air, this was the early morning dew leaving the thick trees rising and dissipating as it rose, it was still and quiet the occasional car passed through on the road a hundred yards away down the hill you could the tops of them briefly as they passed. No double a hundred pairs of soft dark doey eyes where watching us from the forest on the opposite hill. Rosh’s dog Brodie could sense them and wanted to go investigate, they had to keep him on the lead most of the time but on one walk he took hisself off for 3 hrs in the forest apparently.

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                           The view from the kitchen window at breakfast times

 

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                                                      On the road to Rannoch

We had come up here in particular to attend 5 days of horsy stuff including the International 3 day horse show at Blair Atholl which starts on Wednesday and finishes on Sunday so we had a good few days to explore around these parts and the weather seemed to be in agreement.

Down to the end of the road and turn left today, totally at a whim which is the way we kinda like roll! The road was about 20 miles long and ended at Rannoch railway station practically in the middle of Scotland and on the edge of Rannoch Moor, the road ran both sides Loch Tummel and the bigger Loch Rannoch

9                                                               Loch Rannoch

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                                            Loch Rannoch…on the beach

Around the edges of the lochs were plenty of places to stop rest.. eat.. fish..part.. and pitch a tent for a couple of hours, fishing is mostly by permit Id like to add judging by all the permit signs we saw. little coves of shingle and boulders, surprised too to find small areas of beach! Rannoch was a small fairly new village that we passed through with a garage a large hotel and probably a shop and a pub but we never saw either on the numerous occasions we came this way.

 

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                                                                    Rannoch

There were plenty of sign of industrial tree planting with acre upon acre of pine, owned by rich bstard land owners with the sole intention of chopping them down and selling the wood. What remain is total devastation with stumps and the detritus littered around whole swathes of land. Im told the land is pretty well fukced for about 8 yrs afterwards, it looks pretty awful I have to say. It wasn’t all pine though, natural areas with all sorts of trees grew and were looked after properly and most importantly sustained life. You may say and are probably right in saying I know nothing about it, I can only say what I can see.

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                                         Rannoch Moor railway station 

The station is perhaps the smallest and most unimpressive there is. I didn’t take a photo on this visit but feel you ought to see what it looks like from the footbridge as we crossed from the small car park. The above photo is from the web. There was no snow on the distant hills last week! We had tea and cakes and read a little of the history.

When the West Highland Line was built across Rannoch Moor, its builders had to float the tracks on a mattress of tree roots, brushwood and thousands of tons of earth and ashes. Rannoch station opened to passengers on 7 August 1894. At the north end of the platform is a sculptured head, carved in stone by the navvies who built the line. It commemorates James Renton, a director of the West Highland Railway who gave part of his personal fortune to save the line from bankruptcy during construction when the brushwood raft was continually sinking into Rannoch Moor! Last year approx 9000 folk travelled on the line. This stop is mostly used by walkers and ramblers. I had looked on the map years ago trying to see what that white building was in the distance!  We rode on the motorbike over the vast Rannoch Moor on the A82 on our many trips through Glen Coe and for many years Id wondered about that bloody little white house in the distance with no road going to it. Last year when Rannoch station was on the TV I got the map out again and found out exactly where it was and how to get to it and now here we were the mystery of the distant was solved! It wasnt the station after all but it one of the large houses on the southern edge of LochRannoch and now here we were looking at the distant Glen Coe and could imagine where the A82 ran!

`07                                      Rannoch Moor and Glen Coe Standing on the station footbridge at the eastern edge of Rannoch Moor we could stare out at Glen Coe. The A82 ran between the great mountains up to Fort William 

 

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                                                                  Purple moorland.

It was a beautiful mix of wood filled glens,trees both pine and otherwise, gentle hills, sky blue lochs that went on for miles and vast open heather. We stopped often to look and take photos.

We took an even smaller road back down the other side of the Loch. It was a very quiet road and had hardly another vehicle on the road but even so I took it steady as the road twisted and turned, every corner was blind with high banks and every rise became a blind summit, every no and again we’d spy a lovely house in its own grounds with a lengthy driveway. WE pulled over at the end of the loch and made coffee, the view up the loch was great it was almost like being by the seaside.

11                                                                Brew time!

After the break we took the right fork and head towards Aberfeldy, a couple of old sport cars began to appear in pairs then a small gaggle would speed towards us, behind higher up meant I saw them much sooner so was quite funny to see them suddenly slow down and see their white knuckles waggling left and right on the steering wheel as they passed close by. I saw they all had some kind of badge so assumed it was some kind of club. I hope I didnt spoil their day!

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                                                        A sunny September Scotland

15                                            Julie taking a short stroll along the banks

We carried on towards Tummel Bridge at the head of the other smaller loch and took the short road up and over the hill running up the side of another part of Tay Forest.

They had recently upgraded the electricity pylons over the past couple of years and had run into understandable opposition from the folk living near them, I have to say they were quite huge! I think a spin off is the small unpaved track that runs to them all, however many people want these tracks returning to the land as its spoiling the look and that’s what’s happened to many, they looked very inviting to a 4×4 I have to say! Speaking with the old chap next door later on that evening he told me of the initial opposition but hardly anyone notices them now, in fact looking back down the glen all I notice is the silvery sheen as the sun reflects of the cables, regarding the track well the chaps that work the land say the tracks are very useful when taking food and supplies to the more far off areas and of course getting to their animals further up the hills, he says some of the land owners now have changed their minds and are leaving the tracks to be used by their staff. They seem very keen on conservation (except for the fir foresters) so to continue using the temporary  tracks made when building the pylons seems to be a sensible idea?

That was a great day out and ticked of one of my boxes by finally seeing that little white building on Rannoch Moor. We had an hour with Rosh,Ken and the dog drinking and chatting in the sun before it was time to make dinner and have a few a few tinnies and wine for Julie, tonight films onthe DVD would take us to bedtime  at least the bed was comfortable and I didn’t keep slipping down unlike the rubbish sofa!

OK it was morning breakfast was had it was time to get out exploring again, waving at Rosh and Brodie as they returned from a walk we went the other way this time, all along the valley…sorry I mean glen…and Glen Errochty to be precise! The wispy clouds rose and melted away from the tree tops of the forest on our right

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                                               Misty and Damp comes to mind

 

19                                                        Morning Cobwebs

When the sun came out little patches of glistening carpet shimmered in the long grass, stopping to take a closer look it transpired to be simply cobwebs covered with morning dew that sparkled in the morning sun. Once again it was all gone by mid morning and we were left with a shiny blue sky and a hot sun.

Today we head to the main st of Pitlochry and a left hand turning halfway down it. Today we were heading into the Grampian mountains! Going down the Main street in Pitlochry we found the right turn that ent up the hill side and kept going up and up, in no time we were well clear of the houses and driving across the purple covered moor land, the sun was with us again and bathed the land in feel good sunlight.

25                                          Purple Moor AKA Glen Brerachan

We stopped to have a long look and take a photo, a car came along and parked up behind us the guy behind the wheel said hello and asked if I knew where the grice shooting was…

Me.. “what?”

Him…”I said do you know where there is any grice shooting?”

(I stood there repeating what he said to myself…grice shooting…)

Me.. “Erm no mate I dont”

He was about to drive off when I stopped him stepping closer to the car

Me…”Sorry but what did you say again?”

Him…”Grice shooting”…his wife leaned across smiling..

Me   thinkin to myself…..Yup he deffo said Grice, what the fook are Grice??

Me ….”What the hell is Grice shooting mate?”

Him…Grice Grice, you know the birds in the heather Grice shooting!

Me…GROUSE shooting!! You mean GROUSE shooting!!!

Him…Yes thats what I keep saying…. Grice shooting

Me…Laughing my head off now…Mate its your accent..

Him…What?..Laughing loudly too now…You should hear yours, yours is worse!

Me…Bleep bleep fukcin bleep!! and no havent seen any shooting parties mate.

Him…OK bye

Me Sithi!

Laughing I walked back to the truck, Julie asked what that was all about so I re-counted the conversation Grice? What are Grice?  she asks before I finish.I didnt know they talked like that down in Worcestershire…fukcin grice shooting! it really tickled me how two Englishmen failed to comunicate with each other…in Scotland! A few miles further up the road we stopped as something else amused us, I got out and Julie took a photo.

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Amusing sign to keep drivers informed..Oh by the way…. do I look like a “Grice” shooter to you??

The start of Glen Shee was ahead of us now and the tarmac widened and felt brand spanking new, even the white paint still very white. Glen Shee is a massive thing to see easily 6 to 8 miles in length, it climbed slowly all the way, the gentle slopes either side of us  looked stunning, near the top the gentle slopes began to veer skyward the glen carved out by the ice glaciers billions of years ago. It was beautifully carved with just the gentlest of curves and not narrow at all. near the top was a viewpoint, part of the old twisty road had been left to park, it was also a start point for walker and deer stalking parties as the notice board informed. This point had been named “The Devils Elbow”

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On the A93 and the start of something special….Glen Shee

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  At the very top looking back down the glen

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 Footpaths lead into the wilderness, walkers and deer stalkers share the same path..A good time to make bright yellow your favourite colour me thinks!

We were off again and driving down the other side heading towards the small town of Braemar, the ground didnt fall away so much on this side, in fact we were now in The Grampian Mountains so that’s just about right. up ahead lay The Cairnwell Ski centre. We both recalled stopping here several years ago on another road trip, we had come the other way there was snow on the ground then so looked very different, no wonder the place names looked familiar, It really does look very different in the summer! We came to a sharp bend and knew there was a a castle just around the corner this was Braemar and we had stopped her for a photograph years ago, another five miles up the road and we would drive over a narrow concrete bridge and pass Balmoral Castle on the right. The bridge was full of European tourists who look at us when I sounded the “get off the damn road” horn! We found our way south on tiny roads coming out near Montrose on the A90 down to Blairgowrie then north again back to Strath Ardle and a nice run in the the late sunshine along the moor tops again

31                                                                Having a break

Shortly after Julie took this photo a car came past us, it was the guys from the morning and still looking for the Grice shooting. I hope they had a good day…

The following day wasnt so far reaching, and actually gave the driving a rest we went to Bruar just a few miles away for a walk up the hillside with Rosh, following the water and the craggy beauty spots on the way up. Brodie the dog came with us too.

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                                                                  Brodie the dog

 

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                                The trail was laid over a hundred years ago 

 

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                                  Rosh takes a photo as Julie hangs onto the dog

 

49                                         Having a spendid time in the woods?

The Bruadar Falls Walkwalk was a steady mile and a half I think, It climbed up one side of the woods and followed the falling river, at the top it crossed and came back down again. At the bottom of the falls was a country shopping complex known as Bruadar, it was a  small expensive knot of white fronted buildings selling only the finest of food for the discerning palette and outdoor clothing for the hunting, shooting and posh outdoor fraternity. I did manage a tough long sleeved shirt normally retailing for thirty, I got it for a tenner. In the food hall we bought home made pie and indulged in a few other bits. Not a place I would come to every week but nice to come and try occasionally. We sat and had coffee and found free Wi-fi I took a few minutes to post a photo or two. This had been a quiet change but tomorrow we would be out in the truck again!

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            Climbing up the hill side heading into the low morning cloud

Morning saw the usual mist in the valley as the trees gave up the moisture, after breakfast we set off turning right up the glen finding the small turn and nipping up the small B road  to get onto the A9. We had been east west and where now going north for a while up the fast trunk road towards Inverness. A fella told me a few days ago about a saying in Scotland….”If you don’t like the weather, wait a few minutes”… Its so right! We had gone two miles up Glen Garry on the A9 going around another set of hills when blue sky and lovely sunshine hit us, the low grey cloud had literally disappeared around the corner! The signs told us we had just entered the edge of the Cairngorms National Park.

The turn was up ahead by the big white building we slowed and took the left turn going around the building and began to climb again. I stopped the truck when I saw the view in the wing mirror. A huge white blanket of cloud was slowly creeping down the hills towards us and the Dalwhinnie Distillery. What an amazing site it was!

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                  A huge blanket of white cloud slowly rolls down the hillside

 

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                                             Mother Natures morning blanket

I took a few shots of the blanket, Ive never seen anything like it! It moved so slowly down the hillside we sat for ages watching before setting off again so I couldn’t tell you if it came down all the way before dissipating into nothing.

We drove in glorious weather down the side of Loch Laggan and along Glen Spean coming up was the busy little village of Spean Bridge. The cop sat in the unmarked car put her speed gun down as I passed, they were parked up in someone’s driveway, naughty girl I hope she gets piles! We stopped at the Commando Memorial a few miles North of Fort William, as well as being a sacred place for old commando’s and recent deceased Royal Marines (as what the commando’s are now known as) It holds a commanding view of Ben Nevis and the supporting hills, its a magnificent sight on a clear day…like today!. Four or five coaches brought overseas visitors who mingled with older quieter gentlemen. From here we took the tiny B road down the side of the River Lochy back to Fort William

58                                                       Boat in the woods! 

We caught sight of a bit blue and white ship through the trees on our right which was a bit of a surprise! The road ahead climbed up so we pulled over at the top and waited for it. Yup there it was a posh persons boat! I think I’m right in say that one can go from the North Sea to the Atlantic Ocean cutting across Scotland from the North-East to the South-West via the loch’s rivers and canals…or the other way around.

Fort William was busy as always we didnt stop but followed the traffic across the bridge towards Glen Coe only today we pulled over at the visitors centre for our first visit in all the trips up here.

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                                                           Glen Coe Visitor Centre

Coffee and a wonder around the various information and photographs of Glen Coe’s recent past the mountain sports and its history past an hour PLUS we got free WI-FI here so I took a few minutes and posted another photo to FB. In the countryside the internet is utter shyte due to the tight arses not providing a decent network, so Hotels pubs and tourist centres to name a few have shelled out for it. That done we got back into the truck and made the pilgrimage through the magnificent Glen Coe bathed is bright sunshine it was too which was nice.

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                                 Looking back up Glen Coe from the southern end

 

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    Glen Coe in the distance, taken from the western edge of Rannoch Moor

Having spent time in and on the route out of Glen Coe, seeing it in spectacular sunshine and taking plenty of photos it was time to make our way back east across the country. WE parted company with the wonderful A82 at Crainlarich forking onto the A85 down to Killin and a great run up the backside Loch Tay, looking for the hamlet of Coshieville and on to Tummel Bridge and our place just another few miles further on. Today was another long day but filled with wonderful scenery!

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                                   Its not called Bonnie Scotland for nothing!

Julie had spotted a scenic route on the map and e had passed sign for it yesterday so today we would be having a neb in its direction. So with the truck loaded up with picnic stuff and the camera and a coupla fleeces just in case we set off back down towards Coshieville then Fortingall sight of a very very old tree apparently! NEXT RIGHT! Julie shouted…I had the window wound down so she had to shout above the din. We were in a dark green world now as the thick trees hemmed in the narrow road and the river making the air damp and turning everything green..except the road this was the River Lyon, we were going to follow it all the way to its beginning to Loch Lyon 20 miles up Glen Lyon but first we were trundling carefully along a narrow hemmed in and quite bumpy road with a blind summit every couple of hundred yards. It’s those roads that only locals dare dash about on and that damn Tesco home delivery van!

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   A crispy clear morning..and a tad chilly and damp coming through the Dingley Dell though…hence the fleece

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              Nearing the end of the Dingley Dell bit! Note no passing places…

 

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I spotted this crazy funky tree in a field and had to pull over again it was so very twisted, Ive seen this before but don’t know why it happens?

 

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Here is another twisted tree I spotted. It looked dead on the inside but the outer trunk and crippled knarly broken looking branches were so full of life

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Coming out of the wooded area, sat here by some old Caladonian Pine….

 

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            Coming out of Dingley Dell to see this in front..Glen Lyon..stunning!

There were two hydro dams at the two lochs ahead of us something we saw a lot of up here in the Highlands and many of the 4×4 vehicles on these tracks were water utility vehicles. Many of the super looking off road track were on their land unfortunately and with plenty of work going with Defender 110’s Toyota Land Cruisers with electrical stuff and trucks with building material on board so no chance to have a sneaky drive on either. Oh well no matter because the views from the small roads were more than good enough to satisfy.

We pulled over for lunch by the river and watched the water flow and the sheep graze nearby with hardly a glance in our direction.

82Even in the mild weather I love driving with the window open… hence the fleece at midday.

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                                                                      Fill my cup!

 

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                                    As if the road wasn’t narrow enough as it is!!

After lunch we turned around as far down as a small T junction and made off in a westerly heading between two rather large hills once again the road whittled down to an even smaller tractors width! Sheep around these parts can be awkward critters and especially so when they decide to doss down on the warm tarmac instead of the soggy grass. I first came across this on the Isle of Skye years ago as I was riding along on my motorbike in the pitch black back to the digs after a round of drinks at a friends farmhouse, I so nearly piled into about a dozen of them all dossing on the road, they didn’t move and I had to ride around them, the sheep of today don’t move either!!

 

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                                  West Highland cattle also knows as “Muckle Coos!

We rounded the bend to find several cattle splashing about in the water, they were West Highland Cows and adorable! This fella above posed for me a few minutes! They always make me smile when I see them. The road took us up and over the hills, it was nearly an hour before we re-joined the main road down to Killin. We tooka little detour to have a look in an old longhouse. Farmers used to house their cattle and horses in these long houses at one end was the family home with a couple of rooms with internal walls and doors to keep some separation, this one was inhabited right until the late 1960’s. its been renovated and had its badly bowed walls made right it now a museum unfortunately it wasn’t open today.

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The Moirlanich Longhouse..People lived in the rooms to the right. the livestock to the right. The entrance for them was at the other side.

Tomorrow the girls would be going shopping to Perth Ken would be out with the pooch so I decided to have a day just with the camera is whatever direction I went. I went back to Rannoch railway station and came back in a roundabout fashion like Im known for. Dont ever just end me to the shop for a pint of milk I could end up anywhere…

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             First up were these to beauties in their field alongside the loch

 

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                                Cloudy start to the day makes for moody photo’s

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Loved this..the loch was so calm making it great for some reflections!

 

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                                                                           Thistles

                                                           106                                A cloudy Glen Coe from Rannoch Moor railway station

 

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Disused shed at Rannoch station. What an ace looking shed this was!!

112

  Proof that Rannoch railway station is in use!..4 trains a day during the week

So then that’s it with the truck gallivanting for now. Tomorrow we would be spending the rest of our stay at Blair Atholl and watching some horses…gallivanting!

                        BLAIR ATHOLL & The FEI European Championships

The yearly country fair at Blair castle and the FEI European Championships. (Horses)This is a kind of Part II to this adventure, and an amazing experience for me. The Country fair is like any other but set in the fantastic grounds of Blair Castle, a bonus on its own as it turned out. The championships is an event held every two years in different countries, Its special this time too because next year its the Olympics in Rio so everyone is keen to impress. It will start on Friday (whilst the Country Fair show is on going) Its made up of teams from about a dozen European countries who compete over a three day period. Day 1 is Dressage. Day 2 is Cross Country. Day 3 is Show Jumping and the medal ceremony, this year awarded by Her Majesty the Queen. Rosh did all the organising including getting the digs, Julie got our tickets. I just turned up! It was cheaper to become members for 12 months than buy tickets every day, the plus was that we could use the massoove members tent and members only toilets..another bonus! The food and drink wasn’t included before you ask! So our plan daily was to drive to our MEMBERS ONLY parking in front of the castle, stroll the hundred yards to the MEMBERS ONLY tent have coffee whilst checking the order of events, then I go my own way with the camera and meet up again by the food area with the girls for lunch then carry on in the afternoon. This we would do everyday except for the XC day when it was out on the course at 9 until 4. I would try to walk the 3.5 mile course and take photos at every jump. We would leave after around 4….That is the plan, Hope I dont get bored……

 

2

  WOW! This is the first thing I set my eyes on. This is a scaled down example of the 100 ton “Kelpies” metal sculpture famous in the equine world and quite extraordinary.

 

1

Blair Castle  and our MEMBERS ONLY car parking just below it! Blair Castle dominated the skyline above the show. A showing show is going off in one of the arena’s

3

NO DOGS! I did giggle at this to begin with, but after chatting with the stall holder and having the consiquences explained could see her point. She said some of the ladies would park hubbies there whilst nippin inside to shop

 

4

                                                               The Hunters. in all the other rings events and finals were taking place from pony showing.. pony show jumping Hunters, large and larger..true! Many classes were to be competed.

7                                                             Another stunna all around the arena’s I /we had  great views and was soon taking the odd photograph…understatement!  

 

11                       Walking tall I was soon feeling impressed   with the size and beauty of these horses and admired the riders in seemingly total control. I have only seen it from a lower level before in the flesh…Its not the same on TV or from miles away at Olympia and Earls Court

 

16                                   Showing some lovely curves..in another ring it was those stocky little characters from the Highlands in the “Showing show”….this is where they show the horse or pony only off to the judges

18                                                Another class of Ponies..

 

21                                   Check out the lovely lines and shades of grey..The day was very entertaining as I thought it probably would be, a lot of the stalls where pretty much selling the same stuff. yet still bulged with people. I joined in and bought myself a Polo shirt advertising the fact I was here!

 

24

My first view of  our team I strolled around and ended up at the MEMBERS ONLY TENT, so popped in for a coffee. I came out and saw this drop dead gorgeous GB combination I was rooted to the spot as they graced the practise ring, oh such grace! I fumbled with the camera but gave up I couldn’t concentrate so I left it alone and just stood and watched for a while. I felt quite proud….yey go TEAM GB! I thought

 

25

Handsome overseas chap! To be fair, everyone looked stunning as they practised for the forthcoming Dressage competition.

29                                    Everyone looked stunning from every angle! 

 

30

                                      Another Great Britain pair! As host nation we could field an extra eight riders, as well as the 4 riders in TEAM GB, next time it will be in Poland, so their non team members will get the opportunity to compete   

 

38Let the Championships begin! I made my way back into the MEMBERS ONLY tent and stood in our own space just 20 yards away from the main arena. Just wanted to include the media coverage in this shot as the first British rider begins.

 

42                                                       Team Ireland looking great

 

44                                                                 As does Denmark

 

46                  I didnt stay at one arena for long I wanted to see everything!

 

47The Hunters were a real pleasure to look at. Drawing me and the camera closer

 

55                                                               Yey we won!

62                                                  Time for the youngsters and their pony’s

 

65                                                                 Impressed?…. I was!

 

69 The worlds most amazing meditating dog……….probably belongs to Yoda? As usual these horse events always bring hundreds of dogs and as always baffled me as to why..

 

70                                                   I know where her heart lies….

 

74                                  It wasn’t just the Internationals who were looking fab!

 

84                                                        Not everyone wore tweed…

83                                      Proud to be British..I think they are his family?

 

110                      Mother Nature seems to have run out of Brown on this one!

 

114She knocked  4 seconds off the leader…quick someone put her in the national team!!

 

117                                                             Impressive Mr!

 

119

   Wowee Go girl! She’s in the the air for so long she’s probably claiming air miles!!

 

123

Germany throws down the gauntlet! These guys won it the last time and were strong again, their first rider has just completed his dressage test!

 

127                                          Team Italia  into the dressage in Military uniform

 

132

Our own Mr William Fox-Pitt…This is the only person competing that I recognised Im sorry to confess!

 

137

William Fox-Pitt completes his dressage to the delight of the crowd..I took lots of him.. Im happy to confess! This was the end of our day too.

 

138

Not exactly looking like fully paid up members are we girls? Having a two seat Defender 90, this is how we travelled daily to the show from the digs, 7 bumpy miles for Rosh in the back..Perhaps now she understands how her dog Brodie must feel?….

140

Saturday and its Cross Country day..The weather girl predicted a wet day..she was right it started to rain as we got there and didn’t stop till we landed back at the digs at the end of the day.

 

144 Kitty King (GB)

                                                        Great Britain’s Kitty King… starts her XC lap, 2nd starter of the day and at fence 2

 

148

                                                           Top of the hill at fence 3

 

154 Holly Woodhead(GBR)

Our own Holly Woodhead… comes through the exotic looking Olympic Diamond

 

158

                                                      So long as your dry missus!

 

160 Alice Naber-Lozeman (NED)

                                   Alice from Holland…thinking OMG…probably

 

168                                            Another Brit…Nicola go girl!

 

170Nobody cared how they looked today…today was about trying to stay dry!

 

173                                        One from Team Russia makes a splash

 

179

Wet and slippery..Putting grease on the front of the legs and belly helps the horses over the jumps as you can imagine looking at this guy going over the Stags Heads jump.

 

182

Wet rider and horse passing the equally wet spectators. It was lunchtime now so I grabbed something from the food stands and sat in the truck with the blowers on for an hour top get warmed up I was getting bloody stiff! The girls were “out there” somewhere, today we agreed to meet up at the end. 

 

188One of the Belgian guys come out of the water. I have always been worried about using the camera in wet weather, Id found that the sack like poncho to be better that a rain jacket. All day I was acting like a pervy flasher getting my camera out only when about to “flash” someone, it worked quite well as it happened.

 

194

The day was wet from start to finish..the photos look very grainy but this was just down the the constant rain, also the view finder was fogged over so I couldnt see any detail today at all.

 

200

Another Brit rider comes home over the penultimate fence. Im stood with the last but one fence behind me and the 20 something fence in front, so was getting plenty to do here.

201Stretching out now for the last fence a mere hundred yards away! I stood here hoping to get some shots if William Fox-Pitt…When the announcer said he’d just retired having two run outs! Disappointed at his bad look at being eliminated  I trudged back to the truck ..it was time for home and a hot bath! 

206Hunters looking good.. Today was Sunday and a much better day! It was dry and getting warmer.

 

216Watching the gun dogs under training is always good for a laugh as they do as they are told…NOT!

 

219Its the final today for the mighty Clydesdale horses with tiny people riding them! 

 

224                                          Enormous but so gentle,  I could walk under these boys without bending down I swear!

 

228The hounds from the Fife Hunt  gave us a show before the afternoons event started in the main arena. It was the show jumping event and Germany was in a strong lead to again for the second time in a row

234

Let the show begin! Every seat was taken in both stands, the hospitality…team tent and our own were all full to bursting, Our Queen and Phillip were here to and ready to enjoy the spectacle.

 

238                            I was on my toes helping all our people to clear rounds!

 

241                                                          A real Flying Dutchman

 

246                                                                  A flying Italian too!

 

256Everyone is doing their very best it was so exciting…Bored me? Never!!

 

257Giving a helping hand..Can they do that? Is it allowed?

 

267Team GB doing well so far! Putting in a clear round goes down well with the crowd and me!

 

273

Another brilliant clear round….

283

                       Clear..but Team GB has had a pole down and so the Germans pull further clear.

 

279                                         I couldn’t have got any closer if I wanted to!

 

287Team Germany have done it! as well as winning the team event the team captain also won the individual title with a broken/chipped bone in one leg too, sustained from the week before, very well done sir!

 

260

The Germans in the MEMBERS ONLY tent getting a bit leary! Bless em…

 

308

                       Team GB came away with second place in front of France

 

307This top Frenchman took second place individual as well as captain of Team France and third place overall. well done to you too sir!

 

303

Her Majesty has enjoyed herself as much as I have it seems! 

 

309

European Champions 2015 well done the team captain too for his individual win 

 

302                                                                          The driving seat…

So Thats was the European 3 day event Championships, Germany 1..Great Britain 2..France 3. I didnt thinkI would have enjoyed it so much but I really did. Does this mean I shall be buying tweed from now on or wearing summat in green? Well I dont think so but I know somebody who just might be….

68

                                     Brodie pretty in green..Bloody dog!!

We had a couple of day left and the weather returned to supa sunshine, we just had the blip on XC day and a cooler day following that but now the sunshine had returned!

 

57         Not quite Sunshine on Leith, but you get the picture don’t you?

 

114            A comparison …..Rosh and Julies idea Id just like to point out..

 

67

      This is Ken..Rosh’s hubby behind glass until was required to dog walk

Ken was with us all the time honest its just that  we did our own thing, he took the dog out often..everyday in fact whilst us three were at Blair, not really Kens thing, he too enjoys photography and got his share of good photos! We came home a gew days early having had enough of the bloody shit neck wrecking sofa and the bloody shit useless lights! Aside from that it had been a great 1o days. We had explored many new roads and done exactly what I wanted by crossing off so many places Id wanted to see in this area. It could have been worse we could have had these guys living next door….

288

                   The Blair Atholl Pipe and Drums. Europes last private army

 

 

 

115              In a service station somewhere in the Scottish Lowlands

We bid Rosh and Ken…and the dog farewell and set off home on the way we met a fellow 4×4 and my thoughts began to turn towards 2016 the next adventure….