18 In Travels

Road Trip P.1 | Of Salmon and Mountain

Scotland Revisited

During the last week of June, The Brit and I went on a lovely trip around Scotland. It was truly refreshing to see more of this beautiful country we call home.

We did a road trip to the west coast and some inner hebrides isles last year and what we learned is never to underestimate the Scottish roads. If it says it may take you an hour but it’s not a carriageway, then you better be weary! Because of that we decided to only plan a few stops every day to make sure we had time to see them properly.

On day 1, we made our way up to Inverness by stopping at Pitlochry to see the Dam and Fish Ladder as well as stop by Aviemore to go up the Cairngorm mountain.

What a fabulous outdoorsy-ish day it was!

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First stop – Pitlochry Dam and Fish Ladder

So when the Brit mentioned this I couldn’t understand his accent so I had no idea what a ‘darm and larder’ was. Confusion. But then he showed me on Google and the world made sense again. A dam – like for water. And a ladder – like for climbing. What a quaint idea.

The dam was built in the late 1940s and, because more than 5,000 salmons go up stream the River Tummel every year, they had to build something to help them up this massive obstacle. That’s where the ladder comes in. The ladder is more than 300 meters in length, and is made up of 34 pools, which get the salmon up and across the dam.

Two of those pools have glass panels to the side which allows you to see the salmon swimming from one pool to another. It’s very cool. The pools are actually very very dark and I jumped once as I didn’t see one of the salmon swimming directly toward me. It was also probably very dark for the fish too because you could tell some of the fish had trouble finding the hole to get to the next pool.

We walked up the dam as well and kept spotting salmon jumping up the water. It was beautiful. It was also very quiet – not many people around, only trees and nature surrounding this massive man-made barrier.

After a lovely lunch at the Port Na Craig inn and restaurant, we were back on the road and heading into the Cairngorms National Park.

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Second stop – Cairngorm Mountain

Once we entered the National Park, it was beautiful, rugged and bare, as the mountains of Scotland often are. At Aviemore, the usual winter destination of skiers, we headed east into the mountains. 

We took the funicular up as it’s only 8 minutes and it offers a gorgeous view over the national park. Cairngorm is a big snow sport mountain in the winter, so in the summer, to preserve the peak, people are not allowed on foot on the mountain except if accompanied by a guide. 

We arrived quite late so we caught one of the last funiculars up and caught the last one down, which runs at 4.30pm. It was a really cool experience. It is the only funicular in Scotland and the highest in the UK as it goes up to 3,500 ft. 

At the top, the view was absolutely stunning. It was a very clear day, despite the cloudy cover. We could see quite far and it felt as though peering through moving water, with little waves until the horizon. 

There is a viewing platform (indoor and outdoor) at the top station and the Brit and I of course stepped out for a few photos. The wind was the absolute worst wind I have ever experience in my life! Though I also put that to my being dressed for June weather at normal altitude. You’ll see my photo below – I was freezing!

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On the way down, we also stopped at Loch Morlich, which has a stunning beach. It is situated on the way back toward the main road in Aviemore.

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This last photo has not been edited at all. The colours of the mountains were just this beautiful.

To see the Dam and Fish Ladder, you can park near the Pitlochry Festival Theatre, or walk south from the train station.

The funicular at the Cairngorm Mountain runs daily from 10am until 4pm. Tickets cost £12.50 per person. You will see signs to drive there from Aviemore. 

More to come next week!xx

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