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Getting There - Aneel's Travelogue

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Heading back Edinburgh, Scotland, Saturday, 08 August 2015 6:59am

My last day in Scotland was a great one. I started out with breakfast at The Craigellachie Hotel. I hadn't been sure it was included, but the woman at the desk said "Of course!" in the way that has made me feel a little sheepish about having not packed a suit jacket on this trip.

I drove past the Cragellachie distillery leaving the hotel. I'd been trying to figure out which one it was before I came. It's confusing because the sign says John Dewar & Sons. But having been told that it was the one just up the way, I noticed the smaller sign that said Cragellachie Distillery. Sadly, it's not open for tours.

Not content to just tour distilleries this trip, I made a stop at the Speyside Cooperage, where most of the whisky barrels used in this region are made. At the Guinness brewery, they had a video showing how barrels used to be made for beer, before everything went to metal kegs, but here they're still doing it. After an introductory film (with unexpected smells, puffs of "steam" and heat lamps), I watched as coopers repaired some old sherry casks, used a machine to put hoops on a barrel, tested barrels for pressure-tightness, and assembled barrel staves into lids.

I took the road along the west side of the Cairngorms National Park, and managed to see a red squirrel (rare here?) and a pheasant along the drive. The scenery was gorgeous, and the sun was occasionally shining. Definitely a day for picture postcard views.

I stopped by the Dalwhinnie distillery, hoping to do a tour, but discovered that I'd arrived just after two tour buses, and all of the tours were booked for two hours. I decided to move along. The sunny afternoon was too nice to spend waiting.

I had lunch in the town of Pitlochry, which is a charming place that looks like it has at least a 2:1 ratio of tourists to locals. The Edradour distillery (which is no longer the smallest in Scotland!) is nearby, and I stopped in for a tour. The small size is their talking point. The whole distilling process only requires three workers (guiding tours requires 11!).

On a whim, I decided to do a drive along Loch Tummel and Loch Rannoch. The road was just one step up from single-track-with-passing-places for most of the trip. Gorgeous scenery. I turned around before getting to the end of Loch Rannoch, as I was starting to get hungry.

Back in Pitlochry for dinner, I walked across a wobbly suspension bridge, looked at a fish ladder, and crossed a dam.

The drive back towards Edinburgh was fairly uneventful, until the end. My waypoint for the hotel was off by a hundred yards or so. It put the hotel in the middle of the M9 Motorway. It took me a while to get that all sorted out. I miss having a co-driver who can figure out the route before going ten miles to find a safe place to stop and reassess.

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