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Saturday, April 26, 2014

THE AMAZING MOUNTAINS OF THE CAIRNGORMS: THE BEST OF SCOTLAND

The Cairngorms are presented as cold and inhospitable as they were at the time of Queen Victoria.


If you are visiting the Cairngorms National Park in Scotland you are a traveler who reached one of the  biggest goals of his life.

If you wished to meet the great North at its best you should be very satisfied now!

Probably not even a whole year could be enough to visit these enchanted lands.

The Cairngorms will fascinate you immediately. A cold and wild land apparently, but incredibly beautiful and inspiring .

Even Queen Victoria was impressed by the Cairngorms Mountains : " They have a sublime and solemn effect , so wild and lonely , there was no one else besides our little party ... I drank a bit ' of water with whiskey why people affirmed that the pure water was too cold . "

The Cairngorms are presented as cold and inhospitable as they were at the time of Queen Victoria. It often rains incessantly and the traveler finds difficult to explore the dark and narrow paths of the Cairngorms National Park .

You are advised to stay in Newtonmore during your visit to the Cairngorms National Park. Quieter and quieter than neighboring Aviemore, now overrun by tourists all over the year.

Newtonmore still retains an old style village with its stone cottages surrounded by the forest.
A beautiful village at the feet of the mountains in the valley of the River Spey .

From Newtonmore you will enjoy great views over the snow-capped mountains that surround the village and a sense of profound stillness . Find accommodation in a comfortable hostel, cosy and warm up and you will enjoy the best of the Cairngorms National Park.

Visit Loch Eirin and its castle and you will se the Cairngorms National Park at its best. 

The best time to walk in the Cairngorms National Park is probably the autumn.


The avid traveler observes every detail, every branch, every ray of the moon, because he knows to be in front of a unique spectacle that is unlikely to recur. He knows he is unlikely to see again the Nature speak with such force . 

Visit Loch Eirin and its castle and you will see the Cairngorms National Park at its best. 

In a small clearing of the Scottish forest is indeed an enchanted lake that surrounds an ancient castle now inaccessible . The water is still, placid , but the castle seems inhabited by fairies .

You would not hear any noise around the lake and Eirin Castle, not even that of your feet hitting the ground soaked by rain . When there is no wind , the branches of the trees are still. 

You can sit on a branch and look to the castle in the middle of the lake . When I visited the Cairngorms National Park I remember sitting there for over an hour to watch the castle and the reflections of the moon. I had my hands red for the cold, but it felt I lived in that castle for centuries.

The scenic area of Rothermurcius it is another lovely place you should absolutely visit.

Rothermurcius is at the feet of the Cairngorms, where it is worth walking even when the temperature is close to zero. 

Get lost among the paths that cut through the woods to reach Loch Morlich with its sandy shores.

Admire the calm lake and the reflection of the great mountain and you would immediately want to reach the Cairngorm. By car climbing the steep and winding road up to the large parking is an enjoyable experience. From the car parking, take the cable car up to the top. It is amazing!

By car climbing the steep and winding road up to the large parking is an enjoyable experience. 

When there is no wind , the branches of the trees are still. 

The scenic area of Rothermurcius it is another lovely place you should absolutely visit.


Everything is covered with white snow  in winter, white solitude and purity. 

Queen Victoria made ​​her way walking up in the freezing cold and the snow to get up there. 
It was worth it and it is worth it today . From the top of the Cairngorm the eye goes away on the lakes between the mountains of the same color of the sky. A throne for every king .

The tartan carpet , the flames of the fireplace, violin music , a single malt whiskey and a good plate of venison. They are the best refreshment after a day of cold. This is your home up here in the mountains . Your home is in Aviemore at the Cairngorm Hotel. They know how to treat a traveler there. 

When late at night, after having enjoyed a well earned venison dish and a glass of local whisky, you will leave the Cairngorm Hotel look to the moon just above the big mountain. The snow up there shines like pure gold.

Sunday, April 20, 2014

ISLE OF ISLAY #2 - THE ISLAND OF THE WHISKY AND OF THE MOST FAMOUS DISTILLERIES OF THE WORLD

There is a lighthouse at Portnahaven in the Scottish Island of Islay . 


In the morning you may wake up and it's raining again in the Isle of Islay.

Islay is the southernmost island of the Inner Hebrides of Scotland. Known as "The Queen of the Hebrides".

Today, Islay has over 3,000 inhabitants and the main commercial activities are agriculture, malt whisky distillation and tourism.

Islay is an unmissable place to visit if you are travelling in Scotland.

There is a lighthouse at Portnahaven and you can continue our tour around this beautiful Scottish Isle from here (click here to read the first part of your tour). 

The war memorial here is simple, only a cross, but it is worth a visit

A little farther on, near Port Charlotte, another distillery (after Bowmore - read previous post about Islay), this time is Bruichladdich with its huge copper ampules . 

Bruichladdich distillery produces mainly single malt Scotch whisky, but it has also to offer artisanal gin. It is owned by Rémy Cointreau (the company producing the famous French Cognac) and it is one of the eight working distilleries currently working on the island of Islay.


Bruichladdich distillery produces mainly single malt Scotch whisky in the Scottish Island of Islay.


In 2001 the Bruichladdich distillery was dismantled and reassembled, with the original Victorian equipment retained. 

Having escaped modernisation, most of the original Harvey machinery is still in use today. No computers are used in production with all processes controlled by a pool of skilled artisans who pass on information orally and largely measure progress using dipsticks and simple flotation devices.

After having visited Bruichladdich distillery you should move to Bridge End.

In Bridge End you can discover a small fortress hidden among the vegetation . An old stone tower , ancient cannon barrels abandoned between the branches.


Ancient cannon barrels abandoned between the branches.


These ancient cannon barrels should be collected and taken to a museum. 

Maybe not: in a museum these ancient cannon barrels would receive only a distracted look, here in the leaves they must remain as part of this beautiful island .

The tide has retreated on the beach in front of Bridge End.

If you are visiting when the tide is out you should sit down and wait until you see the moon .

It is an unforgettable experience!

In the morning, go back to Port Ellen and from there walk up to Ardberg . You will enjoy magnificent views of the cliffs and the sea. Then dozens of islets will appear on the horizon as the boats in the harbour surrounded by the fog will slowly appear just in front of the Ardberg distillery, also with its large ampule of course.

The Ardbeg distillery has been producing whisky since 1798.

Ardbeg whisky is considered one of the peatiest in the world, using malt with a phenol content of 55ppm. Absolutely taste it!

The tide goes out and you can reach those strips of rocks that look like whales in front of Ardberg. 


The Ardbeg distillery has been producing whisky since 1798 in the Isle of Islay, Western Hebrides, Scotland.


When the fog disappear from in front of the cliffs, from the sea may appear a dog's head, in reality a small seal. 
It will probably stare at you and then quietly dive under the water . 

The beach at Ardberg is a mirror to the pink of the sky in the morning, the birds arrive in groups to find out what the tide has left today for them. 

Hundreds, thousands of birds come to celebrate the end of the rain. Then the curtain may fall and it may start to rain again. But you will be grateful to the sky if you have managed to see Islay under the rays of the sun.

If you want to read more about Islay read also Isle of Islay - Where the Devil has nowhere to hide.

Want to read more about the Scottish Isles?
Click here to read more about Scotland and the Scottish Isles.

Saturday, April 5, 2014

ISLE OF ISLAY - THE ISLAND WHERE THE DEVIL HAS NOWHERE TO HIDE

The round church of Bowmore where the devil has nowhere to hide. 



Travelling by ferry from Mainland Scotland the Island of Islay is fast approached.

Whitewashed cottages illuminate the landscape, grey of the mist and rain. Then the orange Coast Guard boat and the dock. 

Three rams with long and curled horns will probably observe you dragging your luggage up to your B & B.

After getting rid of your burden, you should walk along the beautiful beach near Bridge End and walk along the road until you reach a church in which the devil just can not hide. You will be in Bowmore.


Arriving at Islay by ferry.
The Harbour at Ardberg

Why the Devil cannot hide in Bowmore Church?

Very simple: because there is nowhere to hide!

At the village of Bowmore on the Iland of Islay the church is round and someone has thought of this trick of building a round  church so to deprive the devil of every corner or crevice for refuge. 

At Bowmore on the Isle of Islay, however, perhaps a round church was not needed, the devil, if really had to get here, definitely would go to hole himself up at the famous Bowmore Whisky Distillery. 

The Bowmore Distillery was established in 1779 by a local merchant, John P. Simpson, before passing into the ownership of the Mutter family, a family of German descent.

Today  there are twenty Japanese hidden in the famous Bowmore Distillery.

The distillery is owned by Morrison Bowmore Distillers Ltd, a holding company owned by Japanese drinks company Suntory. Morrison Bowmore also own the Auchentoshan and Glen Garioch distilleries and produce the McClelland's Single Malt range of bottlings.

Islay is the southernmost island of the Inner Hebrides of Scotland. Known as "The Queen of the Hebrides".

Today, Islay has over 3,000 inhabitants and the main commercial activities are agriculture, malt whisky distillation and tourism.

Islay has eight Malt Whisky Distilleries, most of them located close to Islay's seashore, and they produce some of the finest Malt Whiskies in the world.
If you leave the church on the hill overlooking the main street of Bowmore that descends to the sea and walk for a while you can reach Port Ellen and it's worth it. 


Port Ellen on the Island of Islay
The large Bay at port Ellen
The beautiful coast of Islay

Of course with a little 'bit of sunshine all would look even better, but those colored cottages of the little village of Port Ellen on the Island of Islay have their own charm and the White Hart Hotel looks like a nice place to rest for the visitors of this hidden corner of the world. 

The bay narrows along an imaginary horseshoe. 

On top of the bay a man of stone, with the Scottish kilt and bonnet, bows his head on his rifle and remember those young men who have left the island and in the battlefields of France and have reached prematurely the immense glory of God.

It is the monument dedicated to the young men of the island who fought and died during I World War. 

It stands in front of the open sea.

No more tears to cry, thirty years later, when even the children of those men have left and have not returned fighting the II World War.


Port Ellen could not build another stone man. So someone added another list of names at his feet and asked the sea to bring to the dead soldiers a little 'flavor of the Islay whiskeys, which may cancel the war and alleviate his pain! 

...click here to continue reading about the Isle of Islay.

Want to read more about the Scottish Isles?
Click here to read more about Scotland and the Scottish Isles.



Wednesday, April 2, 2014

ST CROSS - A HIDDEN JEWEL NEAR WINCHESTER

The Hospital of St Cross and Almshouse of Noble Poverty in Winchester, most amazingly still working today with the exact of organization and in the same way than centuries ago.


There is one last place that you should not miss if you are visiting Winchester (read the other two posts about the main attractions of Winchester: Visiting Winchester #1 - Visiting Winchester #2).

St Cross, or using its full name The Hospital of St Cross and Almshouse of Noble Poverty in Winchester.

St Cross is for me one of the most inspiring in Winchester.

It obviously depends a lot for what you are looking for in Winchester.

Winchester is a beautiful town in the South of England, an hour South of London and , although sometimes forgot, the town of Winchester is so important in the history of England to rightly deserve to be the town of King Arthur's Round Table.

Winchester was also for a short time the capital of England, during the black death in London.

If you are looking for the great monuments your first place to would be Winchester Cathedral and after King Arthur's Round Table.


The Almshouse is a charitable  housing provided to elderly and poor people.

If instead you are looking for a less famous corner of Winchester, but extremely inspiring and charming the right place is St Cross.

The Hospital of St Cross and Almshouse of Noble Poverty is a medieval almshouse founded between 1133 and 1136. It is the oldest charitable institution in the United Kingdom.

The Hospital of St Cross and Almshouse of Noble Poverty in Winchester is the oldest and largest almshouse in England and certainly one of the best preserved.

The Hospital of St Cross and Almshouse of Noble Poverty in Winchester, most amazingly still working today with the exact of organization and in the same way than centuries ago.

The Hospital of St Cross and Almshouse of Noble Poverty in Winchester provides today accommodation for a total of 25 elderly men, called "The Brothers", under the care of "The Master".

St Cross is just outside Winchester Old Town. One time it could have been easily said it was outside Winchester in the countryside.


The Almshouse is a charitable  housing provided to elderly and poor people.

Practically today The Hospital of St Cross and Almshouse of Noble Poverty  is little more than two miles from Winchester city center, walking South.

The best you can do if you are visiting Winchester in South of England is to finish your two days tour at The Hospital of St Cross and Almshouse of Noble Poverty

If after you have visited the Cathedral you walk at the back of this wonderful church passing near Dean Garnier Gardens you will easily find college street.-

Walk along College Street and if you have time visit Winchester College and have a look of what is left of Winchester Castle.

After you have seen the few remaining ruins of the castle take College Walk, keep coming straight in front of you an in twenty minutes you will be at St Cross.

The building is constructed of stone and surrounds two quadrangles. The smaller Outer Quadrangle to the north consists of: the outer gate (16th century); brew house (14th century).

The 12th- and 13th-century church in the south-east corner is more like a miniature cathedral than a typical almshouse chapel. The building is stone-vaulted throughout, with transepts and a central tower.


St Cross, or using its full name The Hospital of St Cross and Almshouse of Noble Poverty in Winchester.

What is an almshouse?

An Almshouse is a typical British institution, at least originally.

The Almshouse is a charitable  housing provided to elderly and poor people.

Alms are, in the Christian tradition, money or services donated to support the poor and indigent. Almshouses were established from the 10th century in Britain, to provide a place of residence for poor, old and distressed people.

If you are so lucky yo be able to visit The Hospital of St Cross and Almshouse of Noble Poverty in Winchester in a spring sunny day you could enjoy all the quiet of the large courtyard.

The gardens of the Hospital of St Cross when in bloom are a magnificent sight and you would feel back in time in the quiet of these gardens.



Do you want to read more about Winchester?

Read The hero of Winchester Cathedral and King Arthur Round Table in Winchester.

Do you want to read more about England?

Browse on my page Visit England for many more destinations


If you are visiting Winchester please leave a comment below about your  visit or some suggestions you would like to make for other visitors.