The Anderson. Fortrose, on the Black Isle.
The Anderson does little to tempt you in.
A closed door.
A sense of foreboding.
And the grime of years leaving windows looking abandoned.
Thankfully we didn’t let that put us off and pushed at an entrance that might have been barred for a decade.
All life was inside!
Scots, Germans and Poles enjoying a cracking range of ales and huge meals.
A juke box you reach into to flip the cards – and select from The Cramps, The Ramones, Christy Moore or Jonny Cash.
We decided there and then to stay another night and have dinner at The Anderson – only to discover that it would be closed.
Hey ho. We stayed anyway.
Leaving Loch Leven
Further back down the road we left you at Kinross where we’d moved into town to avoid the swarming midges.
For our most excellent breakfast we joined friend and former colleague Lord Hewitt of Dunfermline at Loch Leven’s Larder where every food item in the shop was tempting, although we came away with just a loaf.
Great views over the loch were exaggerated by the clean, clear air, a clarity that was to improve further as we distanced ourselves from population centres.
Edradour – a nip but no pee
Edradour still calls itself the smallest distillery in Scotland although it seems to have been pipped to that title by the smaller Strathern Distillery a bit further along the road.
I wonder what the inverse of usurped is?
Now while Edradour produces a fine product, I am offended by their prices (20% cheaper down the road in the Coop), and then particularly by their decision not to provide toilets for their guests who have to travel to get there. Unless, that is, they’re prepared to pay a £2 charity donation! Is that taking the p?
On a similar subject – in nearby Pitlochry you could nip into a hotel offering “Publicly available toilets” for free, or pay 50p to a public loo. Needless to say there were no queues at the publics.
Pitlochry. All tour buses, tartan and ice cream shops (ironically many selling Ben & Jerries) but no sense of place.
Linn of Dee
Wild camping at its finest.
The Cairngorms stretch for miles in every direction.
Later in the evening there’s not a human sound, but walk a little and the deer are plentiful. Thankfully the heather is high and Polly isn’t picking up their scent.
The wide River Dee squeezes through a narrow 3 foot gorge to create the linn (waterfall), and it’s pretty angry at that point.
There’s a footpath to Aviemore, but it’s 20 miles and I’m not sure my skinny jeans and sandals would impress the mountain rescue teams should they need to scrape me off the mountainside.
The scenery is awe inspiring (hey, remember when awesome actually meant something?).
Stop for a moment to look and you might find yourself staring into the distance for a long while as you try to absorb the enormity of your surroundings.
Even if you were bored in geography lessons the evidence of glaciation will impress here.
Yet should the wild prove too much to take there’s tourist tat aplenty just six miles down the track at Braemar.
Dolphins in the Morray Firth
After a great pub stop at The Beach Bar, Lossiemouth (two beautiful beaches, and the best sunset yet), I needed a short drive.
In fact I didn’t drive at all.
The every ready Minty leapt into the cab, behind ArchieVan’s big wheel.
That’s always a challenge in ArchieVan.
The co-pilot is expected to navigate, but the speed and detail of my directions fall short of Minty’s high expectations.
Despite my inadequacy with directions (I’m a damn fine map reader, I just absorb it all and expect those near me to follow my lead) we made it to a two night stop over at the simple but beautiful Fortrose Bay camp site.
Our pitch looks over the Morray Firth towards Inverness and it’s only a mile to Chanonry Point, supposed to be the best place to spot Bottlenose Dolphins in Scotland.
When you live in the far west of Cornwall it takes a lot to impress on the dolphin front.
That said we we were mightily impressed!
You expect them to look great through binoculars, but be away out to sea.
Although there were only a few last night, they were huge, up to 4m long apparently, and just a few metres from the shore.
I’ll be back there in the morning hoping to see them again.
The joy of a hot shower!
Hygiene in the van is easy.
Keeping everything clean is necessary, but only takes a couple of minutes every day.
There’s hot water, so there’s no excuse for not keeping yourself clean either.
But we haven’t had enough water on board to shower so far.
So arriving at Fortrose and taking the first shower for five days was a serious luxury.
Van life makes you aware of so much that we take for granted in our day to day first world existence. I’ll write of many examples as we go along. The shower was a big one, and I’m about to go for another hose down now.
Tomorrow the show moves north.
Linn of Dee – wonderful wild camping. 56.989953, -3.543023
Beach Bar, Lossiemouth. 57.724371, -3.292540
Fortrose Bay. 57.578409, -4.118471