Sunday, September 18, 2016

Shavertown Trail

Hello, everone!

Scotland's well and good (okay, Scotland's fabulous and gorgeous and I'd love to spend a few years there exploring all of it's nooks and crannies), but New York is pretty awesome too.  And it's getting better now that summer is winding down and the crisp notes of fall are in the air.  It's hiking season!

Home less than a week and I was back in the car. This time, heading out to the Western Catskills in Andes, New York for a 5.3 mile hike along the Shavertown Trail.  The trail starts about a tenth of a mile down County Route 1 from its intersection with Route 30, near the Pepacton Reservoir boat launch.  It is an in-and-out hike marked with red trail markers.  It was created through the efforts of the Catskill Mountain Club, with the help of the NYC DEP and the NY-NJ Trail Conference.

The trail climbs pretty steadily for the first mile, but then levels out for a relatively easy mile and a half through the woods.

The trail is broken down into two legs. The first mile takes you to Snake Pond. There is a 0.3-mile loop around the pond, ending with a lovely view of the reservoir.

This segment is fairly open and there are lots of wildflowers in summer.

The next mile and a half takes you into the woods. There is no big view waiting for you at the end, but lots of ferns and moss covered boulders linger under the canopy.  I'm sure the colors in late-September or early-October would be stunning.

The two and a half miles back out goes quickly, and offers some nice views of the surrounding mountains.  The day I was there was a big sky day. Not the greatest for photography, but with fall coming on the sun was gentle and the big, fluffy clouds against the deep blue just made me smile.

All and all, an enjoyable day out.   More photos can be found here.

Saturday, September 17, 2016

Scotland Day 7 (Edinburgh)

Hello, everyone.

Our last day in Scotland was spent in Scotland's capital, Edinburgh.  (All of our photos of Edinburgh can be found here).

We began with a morning walk to Holyrood Palace, home of Queen Elizabeth II when she is in Scotland.  The entry fee includes an audio tour that highlights some of the palace's history, including Mary Stuart and her second husband, Lord Darnley.  The tour also includes the ruins of Holyrood Abby.

After touring the palace, we headed back down the Royal Mile to Clarinda's Tea Room for an early lunch.  I had been hoping to stop at a tea room at some point on our trip, and was glad we finally were able to do it on our last day.  We enjoyed our sandwiches, but were particularly impressed with the selection of fresh baked desserts.

After lunch, we took a tour of the Royal Mile with Mercat Tours. The tour included some history of old Edinburgh and took us up to Edinburgh Castle.

The room where King James was born.

After the tour ended, we headed down to the Princes Street Gardens to enjoy another view of the castle, before making our way to dinner.

Our last dinner in Scotland was a huge departure from the rest of the trip. We had been eating more traditional fare or curries. For our last dinner, though, we decided to see how the Scot's did Mexican.  Panco Villas on Canongate was quite good. The salsa was a bit sweeter, and the cheese definitely local, but otherwise what you would expect anywhere in the southwest.

We stayed our last night at the Premier Inn City Centre (Royal Mile).

Again, special things to Absolute Escapes for their help in arranging our car and guest houses and providing lots of useful information to help us plan our itinerary.


Friday, September 16, 2016

Scotland Day 6 (Perthshire)

Hello, everyone.

After leaving Inverness, we headed south through the Cairngorm National Park to Pitlochry. (All of the photos from this leg of our trip can be found here).

Our first stop for the day was the Dalwhinnie Distillery, where we took the tour and had another tasting. The tour here was much shorter and surface level, but the whiskey was Glenn's favorite.

We made a quick stop at the Queen's View Visitor Center in the Tay Forest Park, with views of Loch Tummel.

After lunch, we stopped at the Edradour Distillery, Scotland's smallest traditional distillery. Edradour produces only about 15 casks per week. While the whiskey ages mainly in sherry and bourbon casks, Edradour also experiments with using wine casks.

After Edradour, we drove down to the Hermitage in Dunkeld.  We wandered through the park and explored the eighteenth century follies, hiking along the river Braan to the Black Linn waterfall.  The rain had picked up by that point, so we cut the walk short.

We returned to Pitlochry to check into our guest house (the Poplars of Pitlochry).

We braved the blustery evening for a wet walk into town, where we had dinner at Victoria's before exploring for a bit more.

Thursday, September 15, 2016

Scotland Day 5 (Clava Cairns, Cawdor, and Glenfiddich)

Hello, everyone.

While my fascination with Scotland revolves around its stunning landscapes, I did try to take my husband's interests into account when planning our trip. Day five and six focused whiskey, but along the way to the distilleries we made a few stops. (All of the photos from our fifth day can be found here).

Our first stop was the Clava Cairns, a 4,000-year old burial ground with standing stones.

Next, we made a quick stop at Cawdor Castle (often linked with Shakespeare's Macbeth, the famed Thane of Cawdor, but built several centuries after his death).

Sheep are kept on the grounds, and my real motive for stopping was to pick up some yarn from the shop.

Then we moved on to the Glenfiddich Distillery in Dufftown.  We took the four-hour long Pioneers Tour, which took us through the malt house, still house, and several warehouses.

During the tour, we were able to fill our own bottle from one of four casks (two bourbon, two sherry).  Glenn and I both chose bourbon casks. One from 1997 and one from 1998.

After the tour, we had a tasting of five whiskeys, paired with canapes.  The tasting included a 12-, 15-, 18-, 21-, and 26-year old whiskey. At the end of our tasting our guide surprised us with a 30-year old.

Since I was driving, Glenn had double the fun, but we both really enjoyed the day and learned quite a bit.

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Scotland Day 4 (Eilean Donan and Urquhart Castles)

Hello, everyone.

It was great sadness that we left the Isle of Skye on Wednesday to continue our trip through Scotland.  I would love to spend a year wandering through this stunning landscape. But onwards to new adventures! 

On the fourth day of our trip we headed toward Inverness. (All of the photos from day four can be found here). Along the way we stopped at Eilean Donan Castle, situated where three lochs meet (Loch Duich, Loch Alsh, and Loch Long). The original castle was constructed in the thirteenth century, but has been restored several times.

I scoped out the area on Google maps before our trip and picked out a place to stop and take some photographs.  Apparently, I had the right idea, because my spot was very popular.

We also made a stop at the ruins of Urquhart Castle on Loch Ness.  (Sadly, no sea monster sightings).

We made it to Inverness in the early evening. After checking in at our guest house (Lynver Guest House) we explored down along the River Ness.

Inverness is another town were you need dinner reservations.  We wandered around a bit before discovering Shapla Indian Restaurant just off Bridge Street. We really lucked out and had a fabulous dinner.