Posts Tagged ‘Dingwall railway station’

a retrospective of a 1975 trip with my friend Mary, at age 20, recreated with travel journals, letters, and photos

Monday, 16 June, 1975

from my journal:  Aviemore hostel is modern looking, all on one floor (unimpressive).  The man at the desk had long reddish hair and small eyes.  He kept laughing at us, but we convinced him that we did not need a sheet blanket and that we would not need pillows.  The hostels require one to rent a sheet blanket even if one is carrying a sleeping bag.  [I often wished that I was not carrying a sleeping bag; I only needed it during the last week in London.]

We went for a walk by a river and over a bridge.  Big fish were jumping in the river.  While walking a little path through the woods, I got stung on the thumb by nettles.  We then came to a road and walked by the Aviemore Pottery shop.  We decided to go tomorrow and look in it (and we did).  Mary said she felt lazy so she waited by a fence while I walked on up the road, where I saw, in a pasture, a herd of red deer with white rumps.  They bounced away up over a hill.

Aviemore Pottery

[A memory about food: I well remember sitting on a bench many a night and eating a can of cold beans or cold soup.  I carried a tiny can opener that I found terribly hard to use.  It would have been smarter to carry a bigger, easier one.  A cold can of beans or soup was a typical dinner. A week later, I discovered a packet of curry rice that could be cooked up in a hostel kitchen.

Our blog reader from Steveston wrote a comment on the first of this series, about how it brought of memories of “Leaving notes on hostel billboards in hopes of catching up with friends old and new, and listening and heeding travel recommendations from other travellers in the years well before internet. Living off that jar of peanut butter and dried fruit, as the financial choice usually came down to a good meal or beers in the local.”

We were too shy to go for beers in the local, and I was counting every penny.  When I returned for a winter visit to northern England at the end of the 90s, pubs were an essential part of my enjoyment.]

Tuesday, 17 June, 1975

We went walking on a trail in the Craigenllachie. I should explain that the Craigenllachie is a nature reserve consisting of highland moors and high hills (really high hills!) surrounded below by birch tree forests.

First, the path went over a stile, and then through a stile, and then it disappeared.  It had been recommended to us by a hotel man (not the one with the red hair, who was today wearing pink trousers and who had said “How!” to me this morning, because of my headband, and had thought he was really funny).  As the path had disappeared, we found another uphill path.  It wound up and up and up.  I don’t think they’ve heard of switchbacks here!

When we reached a high hill top all covered with heather, we thought we were at the top, but after we had collapsed on a rock I pointed to a much steeper hill.  Up we went.

After it had climbed for awhile, Mary pointed out that we could see only more hills after every rise.  Despite feeling discouraged, I went on to what seemed like the very top.  It was steep and I kept worrying about how I was going to get down.  Not only am I afraid of heights [a fear I kept battling for the sake of good scenic photos throughout the whole trip] but I kept remembering a poster at the hotel about how many people get killed on the hills and mountains.  At the top, I could see three lochs and the whole countryside.

Mary joined me.  We saw a little path heading off yonder; I said maybe it went back to Aviemore.  Mary protested, and her protests increased as we followed it and more hills appeared in front.  [Mary, I know you are reading this and that there are two sides to every story; maybe I was the one who was protesting. ]  But hallelujah!, it did go back to Aviemore.  It was so steep that I slid partway down on my bum, to Mary’s great amusement.  The trail petered out about 100 yards above the path that we had originally given up on.


When we were on the cliff over the hostel, we saw Pink Trousers coming up.  We sat down so he could not see us.  He took another fork up, and I know he did not see us because he took a pee!

We had left our stuff on the hostel porch, because if you leave that day, you must remove it from the hostel by 10:30 AM.  On the way to the train, we detoured to see “Santa Claus Land”—very touristy, I reckon, but we only saw the car track with lots of car frames [go karts?] and people in crash helmets racing around and around.  We detoured to a pasture with about ten beautiful long-maned white horses.  Four of them came up to nuzzle us.

Then we took the train to Inverness.

Inverness is a lovely city with the river Ness flowing right through the middle and a castle a block away from the hostel.  The castle’s stones are pinkish and clean, so it is either new or has been washed! [I just read that it was built in 1836 of red sandstone.]

Inverness Castle

Flora MacDonald at Inverness Castle

We searched diligently for a fish and chip shop and finally found one about an hour later.  It did not have haggis, which we had first tried in Aviemore—liver and meal and onions chopped up in a pig’s stomach; even though I don’t like liver, I had liked it very much.  So we had a white pudding (meal and onions in a hard-to-bite skin).  It was good!  I bought a pickled onion and it was so good that I went back for three more.

I have been finding out that some folks here seem to have a stereotype of Native Americans.  All due to my blue and white cloth headband, which I wear to keep my hair from blowing into my eyes, I get many greetings of “How!” and “Hiawatha!”, followed by peals of laughter.  Just to be contrary, I stuck a feather in it that I found on the moors.

Mary went back to the hostel while I took a long walk through a park on an island in the river, with sections connected by swing bridges.  Despite signs saying “No Cycling”, I saw 10 cycles and 3 horses.  On the way back, a group of boys in school blazers yelled, “Hippie! Hippie!”  [Despite minor annoyances, I never felt threatened in any way while out walking along in the evenings.]

in the island park along the river

on our evening walk

These photos may have been taken as we were leaving Inverness the next day.

near Inverness

From my scrap book:

Tomorrow: to Thurso and back


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