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Showing posts from November, 2017

The Snow Roads

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The Snow Roads is a recently-created, 90-mile scenic route (on existing roads) through Scotland's eastern Highlands. En route from Blairgowrie in the south to Grantown-on-Spey in the north, the journey takes in two of the UK's highest roads (the Cairnwell Pass and the Lecht Pass) and fabulous views of the Cairngorms National Park. In an age of rising temperatures, the road might seem optimistically named; indeed, while snow by the roadside is possible from November to April, it's certainly not guaranteed. However, catch it after a rare winter storm when walls of snow on either side dwarf the size of your car and you might understand the rationale. We think it's a great driving route at any time of year, and an excellent (slower) alternative to the busy A9 if you're driving north from the Central Belt. Art installations have been commissioned at various points on the route to liven up the already beautiful panoramas; beyond these, there are dozens of places of inte…

Persie Distillery

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Based at the foot of the scenic Cairnwell Pass, Persie Distillery is a welcome recent addition to the southern Cairngorms tourist scene. Official tours can be booked in advance, but most visitors just turn up for a browse and free, informal tasting; the distillery stays open quite late, so you could tag it onto the end of a day elsewhere. As with most Scottish gin distilleries, liquor is distilled in small batches on a few days each week. You can peek at Phil the Still (yes, really) through a large window in the shop, or if it's quiet you might be taken for a closer look around. Three contrasting gins are currently on sale, marketed as a "starter, main course and dessert". We were impressed by the variety on offer: indeed, impressed enough that we bought a trio to take home.


Name: Persie Distillery★★☆☆☆
Location: A93 3 miles north of Bridge of Cally, G.R.: NO 140549 ///nylon.fluid.fuel
Open (2018): Saturday to Thursday afternoons, February to December; by appointment outwi…

Walk: Ben Gulabin winter wonderland

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Heather-clad Ben Gulabin (Hill of the curlew) seems to loom large above the main road as you drive past the Spittal of Glenshee. Actually, at 806 metres above sea level it's a mere cub in comparison to the main bulk of the Cairngorms just to the north. A high start point on the approach to the Cairnwell Pass and good tracks almost to the summit make its ascent a straightforward, half-day walk in good conditions, though when blanketed in white it's a more serious affair. Detour to the lower, eastern summit for the best views, and look out for wildlife throughout; huge numbers of grouse, red deer and mountain hare on our chilly trip made for an entertaining outing.


Name: Ben Gulabin winter wonderland ★★★☆☆
Length: 6 km / 4 miles
Ascent: 450 metres
Main summits: Ben Gulabin (806 metres, Corbett)
Start / finish: Space for a few cars at track junction (don't block gate) on A93, a mile north of Spittal of Glenshee, G.R.: NO 114714 ///later.gaps.riverside

Route: Start - track junction…

RSPB Loch Leven

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Each winter, thousands of pink-footed geese, ducks and swans flock to the relatively warm shores of Loch Leven from places further north. Where's the best place to see the spectacle from? RSPB Loch Leven - well, maybe. The star species tend to fly off en masse to nearby fields at dawn each day, gradually returning as dusk falls. Excellent if you can arrive early, and even better if your visit coincides with one of the centre's "dawn goose watch" events. During the day, try your luck at the bird hides on the wetland trail, from the telescopes at the visitor centre, or from a longer walk taking in the whole loch. There's also an excellent cafe, shop and a free woodland trail where you might be able to spot a red squirrel.


Name: RSPB Loch Leven★★☆☆☆
Location: B9097 2 miles north-west of Ballingry, G.R.: NT 160990 ///deeply.triangles.wings
Open (2018): Daily
Cost (2018): £5 (adults), £1 (children), free for RSPB members. Woodland trails are free.




Walk: Eggsploring Loch Leven

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A fried egg on the pan of Kinross-shire, beautiful Loch Leven is a haven for birdlife and a cracking spot for a walk whatever the season. The recently-completed Loch Leven Heritage Trail whisks you around the entire loch, serving up a range of habitats from woodland to wetland and farmland, with good views towards the steep slopes of Bishop Hill and Benarty Hill from the comfort of the level footpath. The winter months bring thousands of free-ranging, pink-footed geese, swans and ducks from colder climes - though seeing them in great numbers isn't guaranteed. Some stretches of the route are a little featureless, so we hatched a plan to visit some of the several cafes around the loch. Eggs Benedict with black pudding at Loch Leven's Larder was a perfect way to start the day for us; we also had an enjoyable lunch at the RSPB cafe on the south side of the loch.


Name: Walk: Eggsploring Loch Leven ★★☆☆☆
Length: 21 km / 13 miles
Ascent: 90 metres
Points of interest: Loch Leven; RSPB Lo…