BikeVermont Scotland Tour
Day 4
Wednesday, 27 June 2001

It is a misty morning when we head out on the Day 4 loop ride. First stop is Taymouth Castle, also known as Breadalbane (bree-DAWL-ban) for its owner. Norman, who has the keys to the castle, opens it up and gives us a private tour. Next, we pedal into the small town of Aberfeldy, where we check our e-mail and have lunch: soup and sandwich, fish and chips, etc. Then we head back towards Kenmore and our hotel. We pass by Menzies (MEN-ghees) Castle, where Mary Queen of Scots had assignations with several of her lovers. Along the way I stop for a friendly chat with a man at a caravan park. He tells me they are a caravan club from east Scotland. The landowner has allowed them to set up on his property. Further along I stop to photograph some dewy foxglove, a common wildflower that grows along most roadsides. It is a damp day, even the horses are wearing raincoats! We arrive back in Kenmore and a foggy Loch Tay and River Tay.
   We're just in time to climb aboard two LandRovers and head off for a Highlands Adventure Safari, led by Donald Riddell and his assistant, Bob. The mountains ahead of us are lost in the mist, but we soon break through and are treated to clear views of beautiful heather patchwork blanketing the mountains. (The heather is not in bloom yet; we are told that the various shades of green and brown are the result of selective burning to maintain the ideal grouse habitat.) We see mountain hare, lapwings, oyster-catchers, and baby grouse -- always on the wrong side of the vehicle for me to shoot, though. The high point of the safari is a stop at a mountain hut, where Donald passes around whiskey-laced coffee, cheese, oat cakes, shortbread, and other treats. On the way back down we stop to soak in one last view of the heathered hills, with Loch Tay visible in the distance. Our last safari adventure is the Hermit's Cave. We plunge into the pitch black hole in the ground and stumble along towards a faint light. As we get near the end of the tunnel, we hear bagpipes. Suddenly we're out in the bright light and face-to-face with the beautiful Falls of Archan. We turn around to see Donald on the hill above, playing the bagpipes for us.
   The safari returns us to the village of Kenmore, with its mainstreet ending in an impressive archway leading to Taymouth Castle. In the very slowly waning light of the day, I take photographs of our hotel, the Tay Bridge (as seen from the hotel), and Loch Tay under storm clouds and a half-moon.
   Total miles: 13.5