It wouldn’t feel like Scotland if we did not have at least one or two days of rain, right? Well, our short stay in Dalwhinnie provided that perfect Scotland stereotype of rain, rain, and more rain.
The drive from Culross to Dalwhinnie was pretty easy with light traffic and clear signage leading the way. The entire drive was scenic, but as we reached the perimeter of the Cairngorms, the landscape became greener with rolling hills flanking the A9. I have to say, if you are going to be stuck in a car on a road trip, I think Scotland’s beauty makes it the place to do it!
The Balsporran Bed and Breakfast is perfectly situated along the A9, nestled at the foot of the hills and visible from the road without being too close to the traffic.
Upon arrival, Fiona greeted us at the door and welcomed us into our cozy roost for the night. Also waiting to greet us was Oakley, the shaggiest and most hospitable of hosts.
After a quick tour of the B&B, we spent some time relaxing in the living room, dipping Fiona’s delicious shortbread into coffee and watching the rain. I do not have much experience staying in bed and breakfasts, but I think I can safely say that Balsporran is the perfect B&B for a gloomy day.
Here is a glimpse of our wonderfully comfortable room, full of Scottish charm. Fiona and her husband Geoff dedicated a year of time and energy to gutting and refurbishing this entire house, even handcrafting the beautiful furniture.
And here is the living room, toasty warm and dry as can be. If you zoom in close enough, you can see shortbread crumbs on this guy’s chin. No, not really–that would imply that I share treats with my husband. No chance!
As soon as the skies cleared for a bit, we threw on our jackets and headed out to explore the hills. We were on the hunt for mountain hares the size of dogs, but to no avail. We did however spy some fluffy sheep, a lovely stream, a bit of early heather, and so, so, so much green.
When the skies grew restless and decided to drizzle, we retreated to our dry bed and breakfast for dinner and an early night. Fiona was very kind to prepare a salad and some sides to accompany the sandwiches we brought, and we enjoyed a casual meal in the living room. After a while, we were joined by another guest who stayed downstairs to chat for a while. We enjoyed getting to know our new friend, and the intimacy of a small B&B was certainly a novelty for us, though I have to admit it would be taxing on a daily basis. But for this drizzly evening in, it was a nice treat to sit around the living room, enjoying conversation with a fellow traveler!
We set our alarms for 5:00 am in hopes of a morning hike with possible stag sightings, but upon waking, the wind was howling and the rain was still coming down, so our morning adventure was replaced with a couple of extra hours of sleep. We were certainly sorry to forego a romp in the hills, but some good old-fashioned vacation laziness was a pretty decent trade off. In the (real) morning we were treated to a lovely breakfast spread with our fellow guests. Fiona’s cooking did not disappoint, and we left that day with plenty of fuel for our drive up into the highlands. Have I mentioned that Fiona is a whiz in the kitchen? I have no pictures of our meal, but this jam made my heart go pitter pat.
After breakfast, we packed up our bags, said our goodbyes, and drove a few miles north to the Dalwhinnie Distillery, the highest of the many distilleries in Scotland. For just £12 per person, we toured the distillery and sampled pairings of whisky and chocolate. The tour was informative and learning about the process was interesting, but the tasting was, well, um, painful. No disrespect to Dalwhinnie–plenty of guests were happily swilling the goods–but I think this was the day I learned that I am not a whisky girl. But hey, the chocolate was a treat, and hats off to Dalwhinnie for its theoretically delicious whisky!
Tips and Lessons Learned:
I tend to be a warm-weather traveler, and as a California girl, I don’t much know what to do on a rainy day. But Scotland is a rainy place, so you can’t let a little weather get in your way. Just make sure to pack a good rain jacket and some waterproof shoes, and you’ll be ready for adventure in any weather that Scotland has to offer. And not that I have any frame of reference, but I was pretty darn happy with my North Face triclimate jacket and my Ahnu Sugarpine boots. I was all kinds of warm, dry, and comfortable.