The White Bridge Hotel is such a nice quirky place. Its got an authentic highlands feel to it. A large glazed wooden door opens into a beautiful glazed and wood panelled porch. Here you are immediately welcomed with nostalgic memorabilia and framed faded photos of highland life. And helpfully, you’ll find a low bench and basket of towels for drying damp doggies before entering a dimly lit, but grand hallway. This is an amazing step back in time with stags antlers, paintings, book cases and cabinets of ancient jewelry adorning all surfaces. Its incredibly cluttered, yet wonderfully stuffed full of scottish charm. To one side, Harry Potter has left his trunk, broomstick and robe.
I came down early this morning to get some work done *sigh* and enjoyed the heavy quiet of the hotel sleeping. I sat in the residents lounge, a beautiful dark green room full of an odd collection of wingback chairs, sofas and pouffes. Here again there are lamps and pictures and dark wood cabinets full of books and memories surrounding the room. A nice couple we ate dinner next to last night told us the lady who owns the hotel was part of the Birmingham theatrical society or something like that. You can definitely appreciate the curation of objects here building the atmosphere, its wonderfully cosy for such a large room which made work just a little less tiresome.
Today we took a long drive via Spean Bridge to pick up our paperwork from Kingussie. This was a lot further to go around the mountains than as the crow would fly. This is the bit of paper that we will be signing in a few days that legally weds us.
We then popped into the Coffee Bothy to see Sonya and Kevin. This is where we are coming for lunch on the wedding day. They have been so wonderful and accommodating we wanted to drop off some stokie tea as a thank you. Here we caught up on their progress with the cafe. It was busy when we arrived and apparently has been like that for weeks which is great news. They also got permission to turn the small empty shop opposite into their farm shop which will be amazing. They are building a fantastic little local food empire here, a full reversal of the prevailing trend selling to international supermarkets. So not only are they selling coffee, cakes and lunches to passing traffic, but making a proper food shop for the locals of Laggan.
We then wandered thru Aviemore checking out the visitor/shopping centre which was eerily deserted. There was some nice home furnishing stuff in there, but had a strange clinical vibe about it, very manufactured. But thats ok, because really we were just here to pick up some OS maps. The one we have of the Ben Alder estate, just doesn’t quite reach Laggan and our hill. Also, we are staying around Loch Ness and tomorrow we want to head out into the hills for a decent walk.
Leaving Aviemore, it was about an hour drive back around the Inverness end of the mountain range (we have done a whole lap today) back towards our hotel. We decided to stop at the Falls of Foyers, where we had been before to take another look. It was a fantastic waterfall last time we were here, but barely a trickle was flowing today. There hasn’t been much rain recently, and what water flows in the river above, is now all getting collected and piped to the hydro plant on the banks of Loch Ness. This is either good news, that the weather is clear and will hopefully continue this pattern for the wedding day, or, its used up all its fair weather and we might get “hosed on”, as Sonya puts it… All we can do is hope for good weather.
As an aside, its worth noting that the Falls of Foyers carpark now has a free public loo and waste disposal for motorhomes. Another sign of Scotland encouraging tourists and not punishing them as per England.
It was getting to about that time, so we followed our noses to Craigdarroch Hotel looking for dinner. But maybe we should have followed our eyes a little more as the driveway was chunky gravel with some big lumps and holes thrown in for good measure. If we were in a 4×4 it wouldn’t have been an issue. But our squat little street car with low profile tyres was not enjoying itself. I was crawling all the way up to the carpark that looked out over an amazing view of Loch Ness. This is truly a spectacular view so with some hope, I enquired about a table for dinner. Fully Booked – even tho all seats in the joint were empty as I looked around… I’m not surprised with a view like that, so we’ll just have to make a point to come back another time. Back to the car to crawl our way down to the main road and back to the hotel.
Luckily, our hotelier has more sense than us and kept us a table, even though we said we would be eating out. Aimi was really fancying something a little more normal than all the rich food we had been having, so had 2 side salads. But as soon as I heard the special was steak pie, my choice was made. We finished the night by polishing off 2 hunks of cheese we got in Kingussie earlier. An Orkney smoked cheese and a Goats cheese called Rovethym which hails from Provence, France. Both were excellent and I’ll look out for them in future.