Sunday, 25 November 2012

Ben Rinnes and Whisky Country

The northeast - Moray and Buchan - is an area of Scotland I have only been discovering in the last few years. Growing up in Glasgow and fixated on the Munros, for me 'the east' started at Ben Alder and ended at Mount Keen. The A9 was the eastern limit of anything of interest between Aviemore and Inverness. (I once fell into conversation with an easterner from Grantown on Spey who indignantly informed me he was from the middle of the country.) Downstream of Abernethy forest on the Spey, or Balmoral on the Dee was an unexpolored country - 'here be flatness'.

But this previously neglected northeast is not flat, except on the Moray coast. It is a land of dark rivers and many hills, albeit lower and more rolling ones than the recreational Highlands. These are working hills. These are whisky hills.

Whisky Barrels:


And some of these hills are interesting hills. Tap o' Noth with its vitrified fort. Bennachie, one of the most distinctive hills in the whole country. And the isolated Corbett (aren't they all?) of Ben Rinnes.

Ben Rinnes from Corryhabbie Hill:


Ben Rinnes is an easy ascent from the northeast, the most common route if erosion is any guide. The best route however is to ascend the northwestern ridge and its little tor, before descending via the northeast.

After Ben Rinnes, I decided to explore the area by doing a circuit of the hill. Dufftown, the town 'built on seven stills' is nearby.

Dufftown:


I drove a circuit to see some more sights. To Glenlivet to see the distillery there. Glenlivet, a light and easy-drinking whisky, is one of my favourites. I need to be in the right mood and environment to enjoy some of Scotland's bolder malts, like Talisker or Lagavulin. Glenlivet however, always tastes good, whatever the situation. In the words of James Hogg:
'If one could but get the exact proportion [of Glenlivet], one might live forever, and kirkyards and undertakers would go out of fashion'
Glenlivet Distillery:


Next to Glenlivet is a spot I had never heard of, Bridge of Avon. This beautiful bridge is the gateway to Ballindalloch Castle.

Bridge of Avon:


Downstream of Bridge of Avon, and nearly back at Dufftown, is Craigellachie. I was especially interested to see the old Telford Bridge across the Spey, but the real surprise was the bar in Craigellachie Hotel. I have never seen so many whiskies in my life! A shame I still had a bit further to drive, as I had further Corbetts to bag in this previously neglected area...

Craigellachie bridge:

1 comment:

blueskyscotland said...

An area I know very little about either.Nice to see some pictures of it.