Well it was a really unpleasant morning here in Aberdeen, cold, dark, truly dreich. I was overdue a proper Sunday outing, and the weatherman on the radio said that conditions were better inland.
So I persuaded Gail to drive us in the Mini all the way up Deeside. What a nice journey that is. You should try it some time.
We stopped a few miles short of Braemar and parked in the Invercauld car park. Luckily, the machine which demands £2.50 for parking in the middle of nowhere wasn't working (remember, I am an Aberdonian....) Anyway, I ran straight down the path to the river. After more than an hour in the car, I was ready to lift my leg and fertilize some heather.
That's the River Dee and the old Invercauld Bridge in background. I know some readers of this blog are more into history than me, so I've included a photo of the sign telling you all about the aftermath of the Jacobite rebellion, Fort George and why the bridge was built. Biggify the picture if you're interested.
We crossed the bridge and entered the Balmoral Estate (which belongs to the Queen). I then realized why Gail had made me wear my red coat.
We wouldn't want a trigger happy Prince Philip to mistake me for a stag, now would we?
After a mile or so walking through Ballochbuie Forest - a beautiful stretch of native Caledonian woodland at the western end of the huge Estate, well away from Balmoral Castle and all the tourists - we came to a secluded and picturesque spot, and found this wooden lodge.
Gail says it was a gift to our Queen from the King of Norway, and it contains a sauna. I'm not sure I believe this (people spout all sorts of rubbish at times, don't they?) I tried to locate the entrance, to check it out for myself. I wonder if the Queen wears her crown when sitting in her sauna? Maybe I'd find out!
But no, it was all locked and boarded up. What a disappointment! So I just had to content myself with admiring the views outside. By then it was snowing a little so we hurried back to the car and I am going to write and complain to that weatherman.