Scotland, Day 12: Cairngorms National Park, Quad Biking through Rothiemurchus Estate, Cardhu Distillery, Strathisla Distillery, the Quaich Bar, Dinner at the Copper Dog

A very packed day today: I got in my head that I wanted to do some ATV riding while on vacation, and Cairngorms National Park had several options. The park is huge and lovely and vast, but also about an hour’s travel from where we were staying.

So we got up early, did the drive, and I went to my ATV thing while Liz slowly woke up and did some hiking trails on her own. I did try to convince her to come with me, but she opted not to.

Here’s the thing about me: I guess I really like nature. So much so that I end up wanting to ride a gas-powered vehicle through said nature, so that I can really appreciate it. I’m a complex guy like that.

On arriving, we had a small practice track.

Doing a few practice laps, before we head out.

The park itself is just utterly massive. Where we were at was Rothiemurchus Estate, a working farm within the park. Our trail led through the estate, and there were some really fantastic views.

I snapped photos when I could, but there were tons of moments where I simply didn’t have time to stop and take out my phone. The trail at times took us into dense forest, and there was one run where the trees closed in almost like a living tunnel.

At one segment: there were Highland Cows in the road. And I mean literally in the road. At least two of them were actually taking a nap, right on the road.

Our guide drove up to them slowly, and stood up on her ATV as a means to get their attention and to get them to move. A few did (begrudgingly and slowly) move along.

We were impossibly close to these cows, and it was fantastic. I kept thinking how much Liz would have enjoyed this part of the trip.

We were really close.

About 50 yards away, we ran into another set of cows… and these we had to just slowly drive around. It was fantastic.

One of the final legs was driving along a small stream. Our guide offered to take all our phones, and had us come down the stream one by one, so she could film everyone individually.

I look ridiculous, but this was genuinely fun:

We had an hour drive back to our B&B, a bit of time to freshen up, then off to Cardhu Distillery.

I made a miscalculation on our itinerary today, and had to make a rather jarring/impromptu exit from the tour that we were on (we had booked another tasting nearby, and I didn’t realize the Cardhu tour was an hour and a half long).

Luckily for us, the staff was incredibly kind – and allowed us to have our tasting, while the rest of the group completed their tour. In a way, we got some really special treatment, as we had one gentlemen walk us through what felt like a private tasting for just the two of us.

A sample of the Cardhu whiskies we tried.

Here’s an interesting thing: several of the distilleries had odd hours. From our research, most distilleries closed down on Sundays, and sometimes Mondays. But in a few cases, we found ourselves scrambling to change our plans.

Macallan, for example, was only open Saturdays and Sundays.

And when we heard about Strathisla Distillery… we learned it was closed on Tuesday. Leaving just this small window of time today (Monday) to visit them, before their doors closed at 2PM.

And we were very lucky to have the chance to visit. Our hostess was incredibly knowledgeable, and the bar area there was one of the nicest areas we’d seen. Add to this that we were one of the few people there, and it made me want to just stay here for hours on end.

The light was coming in and filling the room in the most amazing way.

This is what I’m talking about. The whole room had this feel.

Liz got to taste several drams, and ended up confirming her very strong preference for the Longmorn 15.

Fast forward a bit to dinner at the Craigellachie hotel’s Copper Dog pub.

We arrived a bit early, and wandered around the waiting areas on the second floor.

The real draw for us? The Quaich Bar.

There was a lot to choose from.

A nice bonus: we mostly had the bar to ourselves, while we were having our pre-dinner drinks here.

We ended up getting a nice recommendation from the bartender to visit GlenAllachie (we also got this recommendation from our taxi driver as well).

Dinner downstairs at the Copper Dog.

Some haggis bon bons and a side of truffled lobster macaroni.

The pub had a novel “pop-up sushi menu” this weekend, with a visiting chef from another town. I gathered they didn’t have sushi in the area all that often, so they were pretty busy all weekend (and likely the reason we couldn’t even get takeaway from here, a few nights ago).

It’d been a long while since I’ve had sushi, so I opted to indulge. I’d forgotten just how much I love sushi, and this was really quite tasty.

Scotland, Day 1: Driving to Glasgow, Dinner at The Butchershop
Scotland, Day 2: Auchentoshan Distillery, Kelvingrove Park, Dinner at Fanny Trollopes and Bon Accord
Scotland, Day 3: Glasgow Necropolis, Glasgow Cathedral, Tasting at Glen Goyne Distillery, Dinner at Stravaigin
Scotland, Day 4: Island Hopping to Isle of Arran, Lochranza Distillery, Isle of Islay, Late Arrival at Islay House
Scotland, Day 5: Bunnahabhain Distillery, Lagavulin Distillery, Dinner at Islay House
Scotland, Day 6: Bowmore Distillery, Bruichladdich Distillery, Isle of Jura, Jura Distillery
Scotland, Day 7: Travel Day, Dunchraigaig Cairn, Oban Distillery, Whisky Vaults
Scotland, Day 8: Travel to Inverness, Glencoe Valley, Loch Ness, Moments of Indecision, Drinks at the Malt Room
Scotland, Day 9: Victorian Market, Clava Cairns, Old High St. Steven’s, Malt Room Revisited
Scotland, Day 10: GlenDronach Distillery, a Late Dinner Panic, Arriving at Burnroy House in Archiestown
Scotland, Day 11: The Macallan, Aberlour Distillery, Anniversary Dinner at Dowans Hotel, and a Most Amazing Coincidence

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