Grampian Stag Gathering

Grampian Triumph Clubs gathered on a mid-July weekend to venture west from Aberdeenshire to Fort Augustus. Being mid-July we were all looking forward to some top down driving… no such luck!

Ten cars (20 brave souls) had committed to the weekend and duly arrived at Balmakewan for bacon butties and coffee to prepare ourselves for the day ahead. We set off toward Brechin and Kirriemuir then cross-country to Dunkeld and Aberfeldy – you may have seen the Alyth flash floods on the news – we passed within one mile of there…

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Luckily we all made it through but one puddle was particularly deep and a couple of hundred metres long. A video taken of our Stag braving the floods shows a trail of bubbles as the exhaust is almost submerged and the V8 burble becomes a muffled watery gurgle!

Click Here to watch the video (link will take you to YouTube)

From Dunkeld we headed for the Highland Chocolatier at Grandtully to recover from a very wet drive… after delicious lunches we took advantage of a break in the weather to have a quick tour of the nearby Cluny Gardens. A very informative guided tour of this hillside Himalayan garden was enjoyed by all, along with some close encounters with red squirrels.

As leaders of the pack Simon and I decided it was time to go topless! No-one followed our lead although they did join us for a fabulous (or tortuous depending on your point of view) single track route from Weem to Loch Tummel to Trinafour joining the A9 at Edendon Bridge. A brief interruption came from a non too bright young deer who took several minutes to figure out a way through the fence to the left of us – when there was no fence to the right! He did however provide an opportunity for a couple of SHB trucks to overtake – narrowly avoiding disaster for the Stag to be.

The group was scattered as we sped up the A9 and after a brief regroup stop at Dalwhinnie Distillery four of us set off for our final destination for the day… We were all reunited in time for tea at The Lock Inn – a traditional pub on the Caledonian Canal. A fun evening was had comparing notes on our choice of routes and sampling the local refreshments.

Saturday dawned and we peered out of the window to see that the rain continued to fall. Undaunted we set off after breakfast to drive down to Kinlochhourn – another stunning single track route – 23 miles to a sea loch. We like to think that the cloud and rain added to the drama of the landscape!

Some miles in we met some highland cows – most photogenic! Unfortunately they were not camera-shy and gathered in numbers effectively blocking the progression of half our group. Some time later the lead group noticed we were lacking in numbers and waited a good 15 minutes before the rest caught up telling tales of cattle herding.

A section of the road was submerged to the halfway point with the water level rising fast as water poured from the hills – a brief thought as to whether the road was going to be underwater when we headed back was quickly dismissed in favour of making the most of the scenery to come.

All this drama meant we once again required sustenance and so gathered at the Kinlochhourn Café – a remote cottage at the end of the road – we crammed ourselves into the communal area and enjoyed smoked salmon sandwiches and cake by the heat of a glowing fire.

The weather lifted for the journey back – thankfully the potential flood had receded by the time we passed – surprisingly the water level in Loch Quoich was down by ten metres or more – one of the group suggesting this was because it was tidal…

We left in dribs and drabs to amuse ourselves for a few hours – some headed for Fort William – others back to base to explore Fort Augustus. We regrouped for a boat trip on Loch Ness – informative and fun – particularly waving to those that did not quite make it to the boat in time!

Dinner that night was in a restaurant with stunning views up Loch Ness (or was it Loch Linnhe?) Then a 10 minute stroll back to The Lock Inn for night caps and chat.

Sunday morning came and we bravely went topless all round. We set off along the B862/B851 stopping to enjoy the Suidhe viewpoint then taking a right turn on another single track road to Strathdearn. After a couple of miles we came across a closed gate – thankfully not locked so we carried on following the road up and over the hill to the river Findhorn and back once more to the A9.

On top of the hill we were watched over by a Red Kite – a stunning bird enjoyed on a dramatic road.

We followed the route from Tomatin to Carrbridge to Grantown on Spey then up the A95 to Ballindalloch and across to Glenlivet. Being slightly ahead of schedule for the first time this weekend we dropped in to The Glenlivet Distillery for a comfort break.

A few more miles and we enjoyed our final meal of the weekend at The Croft Inn at Shenval – satisfaction all round.

From here we went our separate ways (still topless) back home with some great memories of another fun weekend!

Roll on next year…

Thanks to Dawn Short for her article and fab video!

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