Saturday, April 28, 2012

Adventures in Scotland Wednesday-Thursday

Wednesday started out with rain. We were planning on going to a sing-around in Huntly in the evening so our exploring took us eastward to Aberdeenshire. During the day we encountered periods of rain, sun, hail and snow but always of brief duration according to elevation.  One of our stops was the Burn o' Vat, a nature preserve, where we had lunch (we're becoming adept at making sandwiches in the car)


The rain let up a bit so we walked up to see the Vat. Later on we found there was a rievers' (cattle rustlers) cave as well that we didn't find. Along the steep  mossy banks were lots of primroses blooming amongst last year's bracken.


There was another section to the park with a walk along the loch past an old (I guess they're ALL old) crannog, which is the remains of an ancient island round house, a castle island and a Pictish cross.










As we got closer to Huntly we found the Culsh souterraine, which is an underground chamber supposedly used for storing grain. No evidence of grain storage has actually been found and storing grain in an underground chamber in a damp climate seems impractical. The entrance faces the midwinter sunrise, the pink lintel is supported by a big "lucky stone" on one side and a quartz stone on the other. Just saying...

Huntly

Our goal for the evening was the town of Huntly, where we were to meet our friends Trish and Gaye for dinner and then a song-session at the Crown. We got there too late to tour the castle but we were able to walk around on the grounds. We had a bit of a muddle catching up with the Fishwives (Trish and Gaye) but got sorted out in plenty of time to get to the seissi√ľn. We heard many good traditional singers that night, including Keith Cockburn, who sang a version of Bogie's Bonnie Bell. I used to sing this song which I learnt from Jack Beck back in the mid-nineties.







That night we spent with Gaye in her converted steading. This is a farm buiding like a U-shaped barn which Gaye and Paul have renovated into a wonderful house. Thursday it rained steadily for most of the day. We spent the morning meeting with a Scottish beekeeper (who just happens to play the fiddle and nyckelharpa) then drove home through the rain. I spotted a directional sign to some Pictish stones, so we pulled off the main road, down a twisty local road to a small church. The stones are displayed in a little porch and are purported to be amongst the best Pictish stones in Scotland.



We got back to our base in Avimore in time for a swim and a soak in the jacuzzi - no bad!

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