Home > Vacation > Scotland – Day 5: St. Andrews, Glenlivet, Inverness

Scotland – Day 5: St. Andrews, Glenlivet, Inverness

December 11, 2011 Leave a comment Go to comments

Itinerary

Over the elegant Forth Road Bridge and through Fife to St. Andrews. Cross the Firth of Tay and from Dundee, head into the Highlands with a lunch stop in pretty Braemar, home of the Royal Highland Games. Drive through the Grampian Mountains to visit a WHISKY DISTILLERY.

Introduction

Today we left the comfort of the big cities (Glasgow and Edinburgh) and began our journey to the more remote areas. With over 200 miles to cover, our stops were briefer. You’ll see many photos of the countryside. These were all taken from inside our barreling bus, so they likely only stand up to scrutiny at smaller sizes.

St. Andrews

First stop was the world-famous St. Andrews Golf course. Well, not so much to me. It is located on the coast, so you do have a decent view of the North Sea. We walked around some, but for us the most interesting things were 2 or 3 new birds, including a European Swallow. Don’t get those in Texas. I’ll be covering wildlife in detail later in this series.

Lunch was at Braemar. It’s a small town, of course. I wasn’t feeling great today, so we didn’t stray out of the hotel where we had ‘lunch’. I think they were overwhelmed. We just had soup.

Glenlivet Distillery

Our final destination was Inverness, but not before touring The Glenlivet Distillery. Getting there was definitely half the fun. We caught glimpses of several castles along the way.

It’s a steady elevation rise through the Cairngorms National Park. We saw a few deer but for the most part it was only sheep around. We passed through at least a couple of ski areas, but there was no snow on the ground yet. The higher we got, the worse the weather got, too. Rainy, cold, and windy. One photo stop at a relatively high elevation was so windy, we didn’t even spend long outside.

Sheep in the foreground, windmills in the back

With lots of time to enjoy the views, I think I figured out why I like the Scottish hills and mountains better than the ones I’ve seen in the States. They are mostly tree-less. Scottish hills are covered in grass, heather, etc.

ANYWAY. We got the grand tour of The Glenlivet Distillery, such as it is. It’s a very simple operation. So much so that it only takes two people to operate it. Walking through the building at the different stages is a truly intense assault on the nose. The smell of whisky is so strong, a not unpleasant scent :) I was particularly fascinated by the warehouse where they store the casks. With no extreme temperatures, there is no need for climate control. It’s really cool to see dozens and dozens of casks, just waiting for years to be opened.

As with any good tour, free samples were awaiting us at the end.  You’re only allowed to have one, but if you have a buddy, you can swap. We tried the 18-year-old, which I rather liked, and the cask strength. Wow, that is intense.

Not sure if I mentioned this already, but John specifically recommended not buying whisky and having it shipped home. The UK VAT is so high, that it is much cheaper to buy the stuff at home. However I did find something to buy in their awesome gift shop. By now I was truly fed up with the weather and got a hooded, waterproof jacket for about $50 USD. Quite the bargain really. I wore it for most of the remainder of the trip. Of course if I had just brought my ski jacket in the first place, I would have been set.

Inverness

We arrived at Inverness late in the afternoon. With nothing planned we walked the streets for a little while. Typical Old World streets, but there was one absolutely spectacular rainbow. After dinner, we hit up the bar and took advantage of the free internet. Looking back we made one mistake; we should have taken advantage of the laundromat right by the hotel.

Full Gallery – Day 5

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