May 29, 2012
Up early and out of the house by 8:20 am – the day was overcast and drizzly but luckily not too cold. We retraced our route from yesterday until we reached the turnoff for the Osprey Centre, and then continued on the Speyside Way.
Once again we were walking along forest tracks alternating with narrower trails. The footing was good, so we made good time to Nethybridge, where we stopped for a moment to look at one of the many bridges which Thomas Telford had built in the area. From there we continued along the old Speyside Railway grade, and about two hours later we arrived in Grantown-on-Spey.
It was about midday, so we stopped at Chaplin’s café for soup and tea, after which we found the trail again. This time it went through a large wooded area, with signs warning you to keep your dogs on-leash because this was an area where capercaillies lived. We looked very carefully as we walked through the woods, but unhappily we didn’t see any of them.
We crossed back over the River Spey and walked down to Cromdale. Arriving in the village, we turned along the main road to find the Haugh Hotel. From here our instructions had us walking up the road beside the hotel to find our B&B, A Eilean a Cheo. As we walked along we saw numerous rabbits hopping in the fields and dashing across the road in front of us. We finally arrived at the B&B, slightly surprising our hosts because it was only about 2:30 pm.
Once we had our boots off we were invited into the kitchen for a cup of tea. Jan was just heading out to the shops to buy gluten-free bread for Rosemary, so Gordon chatted to us over tea. Their house was very lovely and while we sat in the kitchen, a male pheasant wandered around the garden. There was also a duck sitting on her nest out there. Gordon told us why there were so many rabbits about – the local gamekeepers shoot all the predators on sight so that there will be more grouse for people to shoot. This also means that he can have ducks nesting in his yard without fear of them being eaten by foxes.
We were finally shown our room, so we quickly changed into our cleaner clothing and walked back down the hill to the pub at the Haugh Hotel. This pub was the only place to eat in the small village, and it was also very empty. Our meals were a bit on the salty side, but otherwise not bad. We were surprised to hear a Canadian radio station being played in the pub, so we asked the bartender about that. He told us that he had worked in Rochester, New York, as a chef and he liked that Toronto station, so when he moved to Scotland he continued to listen to it over the Internet. We also found out that he was a distance runner who was training to run ultra-marathons, particularly next year’s Hadrian’s Wall run.
After paying our bill we walked back up the hill to the B&B. Our next step was to try to figure out how long it would take to walk to the Ballindalloch Station tomorrow. This was because the Ballindalloch Bridge over the River Spey was closed for repairs, so we would have to take a taxi from there to the other side of the river. This would be paid for by the Moray county council, since they were the ones doing the repairs. We figured out that we could make it there by 1 pm, so we called one of the taxi companies who were contracted by the council to do this. After much discussion with the taxi driver we organized the pickup for that time. We chatted with Gordon and Jan for quite a while before heading to bed.