Tour 2011 – Highland Tour

Friday 29th April to Monday 2nd May

As you will no doubt remember there was another important event going on in London that weekend, and to get the ‘best of both worlds’ a number of members decided to travel up to Grantown a day earlier in order not to miss any of the London events on the telly!  Again this year we clashed with a meeting at Knockhill so numbers were down.  However, 34 members and partners did make the effort.

Friday Morning and Afternoon:

The first section of Friday’s 160-mile route to Grantown started from the Esso station on the westbound carriageway of the A82.  There being no time controls members followed the route at their own pace  –  up to Balloch, Gartocharn and Drymen; through Aberfoyle to the Trossachs, over the Duke’s Pass and up to Brig o’ Turk.  Thereafter via Strathyre, Lochearnhead, Killin and the Falls of Dochart, we headed along Loch Tay through Keltneyburn up to Tummel Bridge.   From there it was a simple drive to the House of Bruar via Trinafour and Calvine.  What a glorious drive this had been, especially if you were in open MGs like Arlene and Jimmy McInnes, and Mairi and I had been.  The weather couldn’t have been better – not a cloud in the sky – and the roads!  Well  –  MGs were made for them!
After lunch at Bruar, the 63-mile route followed the 2010 Run exactly up to Grantown-on-Spey.  As far as Mairi and I were concerned this part of the route was uneventful until about 6 miles out from Grantown when the car started “acting up” – coughing and spluttering!!  Fortunately, we just made it to the Grant Arms Hotel – and abandoned the car overnight, hopefully, to sort it out on Saturday morning.
Earlier, up in Grantown, the female Thursday-nighters had been getting their fascinators adjusted in preparation for the big wedding on the box.
We never heard what their partners were doing while the ladies were oohing and aahing  –  no doubt keeping their throats from drying out.

 Friday Evening:

As usual, we had a reception before going in for dinner.  In previous years Gordon and Karen Clendinning had provided a Scalextric competition, but unfortunately, Gordon had been pre-booked and was unable to be with us this time.  However, all was not lost!?  Bob had arranged a quiz night (courtesy of Mid Bruce) – whoever set the questions had most of us scratching our heads. The answers were to be in by dinner on Saturday but that did not halt the early starters.  A raffle followed for a bottle of 18-year-old Cutty Sark donated by The Edrington Group.  This was won by Kenny Allen with the proceeds going into the charity pot.

Saturday morning:

Anne and Bill Cuthbertson about to leave for Urquhart Castle in their immaculate E-Type. (Photo by Charlie Young)
The weather continued to be glorious, but before ‘the off’ the bonnet was up on the MGB as it was still not quite right!    Fortunately, we had the expert services of professionals, Kenny Allen and Kenny Gunn. Which was just as well as we were getting umpteen opinions offered as to what the problem might be from all the Motor Sport “experts”. Initially, having checked that there were no fuel problems, it was decided that plugs might be the problem and new ones were required.  However as the car seemed now to going OK, we set off for Urquhart Castle on the shores of Loch Ness with fingers crossed (the Kenny’s having detoured to Inverness to get new plugs).
Urquhart Castle was certainly worth the uneventful drive down to Drumnadrochit. They have made a marvellous almost hidden centre above the castle where visitors are entertained with a short cinema show of the castle’s history. On completion of the show, the curtains were pulled apart to reveal a most spectacular panoramic view of the castle with Loch Ness behind.

Photos taken at Urquhart Castle – Click to enlarge 

Before we left the car park Kenny and Kenny fitted the new plugs to the MG and we left much happier (but still with fingers crossed).

 Saturday Afternoon:

Fort George on the Moray Firth was our next destination.  This too, for those who hadn’t been there, was well worth a visit, with lots to see. We were advised to look for dolphins from the Fort’s ramparts.  Sure enough, there seemed to be dozens of them less than a 100 yards from our vantage point!  They were obviously putting on a show just for us.  The funny thing was that as soon as a launch carrying the Dolphin Watchers down from Inverness came into view, the dolphins quickly submerged until it had passed, then reappeared again only to dive once more when the launch was on its return journey!  We wondered what the passengers had to pay NOT to see any dolphins!
  After lunch and a walk around the fort, we set off back to Grantown.  All seemed to be still OK with the MG until we began the long ascent up the B9007 when it started acting up again, getting slower and slower.  Plus a long queue of cars building up behind us – fortunately we did manage to creep back into Grantown where the two Kenny’s had a closer look at the MG.  As it turned out, the problem was eventually tracked down to the faulty wiring which was quickly sorted out.    Mairi and I were more than delighted that the problem had been resolved as we had not been looking forward to the long drive down south on Monday morning with a sick motor.   Many thanks to both Kenny’s.

Saturday Evening:

Following dinner, Bob Baillie and Mid Bruce decided to test members’ driving skills with two radio-controlled cars which they had produced.  However, the cars wouldn’t run on the carpet;  something was interfering with the radio controls (possibly mobile phones) – etc, etc.  A wooden floor was used with little more success – neither Bob nor Mid or anyone else who was prepared to have a go, could get the cars moving in the right direction. There were red faces all round when a teenage guest asked if he could have a shot.  Guess what?  He made it looked so easy that there were no further takers.  Suffice it to say, it was all a bit of a disaster, but it did cause lots of amusement.  Malcolm Noble and Marion Bicket were the winners of the quiz with all 40 answers correct!!!!  In the absence of the Scalextric Competition, to finish off the evening Bob Baillie and Malcolm Noble raffled off the 12-year-old Cutty Sark (again from Edrington) which Malcolm and Marion had just won.  A further bottle of 12-year-old Cutty Sark was raffled by Malcolm who targeted a bunch of whisky tasters who were also staying at the hotel. The proceeds of these raffles together with donations resulted in Bob being able to present a cheque for £412.50 to Gordon Clendinning’s Leukaemia Charity

Sunday Morning:

We all travelled south again on Sunday morning to Loch Insh to the Watersports Centre.
A much happier Mairi and Stuart Parker, now that the MGB had been sorted out. (Photo by Charlie Young)
Need-less-to-say, apart from a gentle sail around the loch, nobody took part in any of the sports on offer!  We were lucky enough to see a pair of Ospreys nesting from the cruiser.  All in all, it was a pleasant leisurely morning still in glorious sunshine.  Some of the group who had decided to stay only two nights in Grantown made their way home after this visit to Loch Insh.    The others did their own thing for the rest of the day.


Sunday Evening:

McInnes almost nodding off after dinner. (Photo by Anne Cuthbertson)
By the time Sunday evening came around, and dinner plus fluids were consumed (the food had again been excellent) most people were looking forward to bed.
There was no raffle that night — the whisky was all done!!!!

Monday Morning:

Fond farewells were said – promises to do this again – certainly next year – etc, etc.  But home beckoned.  What a great weekend this had turned out to be.  As usual Bob Baillie had provided a great route, interesting visits, great accommodation and food, and most of all great company.  Many thanks, Bob.
How did you arrange the weather?  same again please, next year.
Stuart Parker

List of Entrants

Kenny Allen & Kenny Gunn            Bob & Margaret Baillie         Tom & Marion Bicket
Mid & Val Bruce           Barry & Nancy Crichton         Bill & Anne Cuthbertson
David Fotheringham & Susan Gould       Ian & Louise Gemmell        Walter & Bette Gray
Jimmy & Arlene McInnes          Bill &  Eileen Montgomery        Malcolm & Anne Noble
Stuart & Mairi Parker           Ian & Margaret Smillie           Pat & John Smith
Johnnie & Jay Thomson            Charlie & Netta Young

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