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Memories 2. Three special places.

Our Three Lochs.

The scenery around the Spey is spectacular wherever you look but we always had our favourite places, the places we used to and still do  try to visit on the first day of any stay in the area. Our three lochs are special and stand out from all of the hundreds of lochs, lochans, rivers & burns that liberally sprinkle the area.  Whilst we are on the topic, this profusion of Lochs & rivers do suggest that there is a lot of water around, and that sadly it mostly comes from the same place, the sky !  Yup it rains a lot, no getting away from it, Scotland really does know how to stage a downpour.

LOCH GARTEN.

Its hard to say what the appeal is here, it is a small loch situated in a saucer shaped depression with the much higher hills and mountains to the South and East. It is totally surrounded by the remnants of the old Caledonian Forest, with the small road wrapped around the northern tip of the loch and close to where road and loch meet is our rock.  

 

Yes I did say OUR rock and I claim it as part of the Duffin Family's cultural identity. Everyone who matters has been photographed sat or attempting to stand on our rock. Hard to explain why but it's just what you do, every holiday, first morning, go sit on rock.  It's a ritual, it's important and if not done the sky would most definitely fall in. It is in the perfect spot to sit and contemplate what a stunningly beautiful place it is, and what a God-awful shitstorm Boris Effing Johnson and his moronic cronies have manoeuvred us into.

 

Next to our rock there used to be a huge pine tree that had  blown over in some long forgotten storm. The tree itself had been cut off, but about 10 feet of trunk were still there parallel to the ground, with the enormous root-ball up in the air.  I am not quite sure when it disappeared , one of those quirky memories, I clearly remember climbing up onto it when I must have been very young, and it is there in early photos, but it ain't there now.  So with a careful and very well educated guess I reckon it must have been removed roughly between  1960 and 2010., That narrows it down a bit !

Being surrounded with pine trees the whole place is filled with that slightly resinous smell you get in pinewoods.....and giant *****wood ants!   Sit still and quiet for a few minutes and the locals will emerge from their holes and burrows to come and take a look at what has invaded their personal space. Little red squirrels will pop their heads up over branches and if you are lucky and in range, they have been known to lob the odd pine-cone at you.  Old Scots Pines have small hard cones, just right for throwing if you are small and red. Its sort of squirrel-ese for "bugger off and leave us alone ".  The local fox population makes little effort to hide unlike the Pine Martens, which are most definitely there but unless you are a budding Chris Packham will most definitely not be spotted by the likes of us.

Of course the most well known of the locals are the Ospreys. Each spring they move into what is left of last years nest. Usually Mr Osprey  gets on with the DIY stuff fixing up the nest, checking out the support tree and suchlike. Mrs Osprey goes to chat with the neighbours, asking around what happened to that young Turk who tried to build a nest just down the tree from theirs. What a nerve, she & Mr Osprey have been nesting in their tree as long and anyone can remember, and his Mum & Dad before him, then this guy just wanders along and starts gathering sticks !!! Like...hoozee think he is,  an endangered species or something ?

All pictures enlarge if clicked.

Our rock & the stump. Loch Garten 1960 ish. Michael, Marguerite, Rhona & Neil.

Our rock about 40 years later.  Caroline,Linda & Simon.  Who nicked the stump ?

Loch Garten around

1960. Mike, Neil & Joe.

Loch Morlich click images to enlarge.
Loch Morlich

A very different type of place. Whilst silence is the most noticeable noise at Loch Garten, Loch Morlich is all of a bustle. Sat right under Cairngorm itself, there is stuff going on here the year round. The ski slopes are directly above,  keep on along the road from Aviemore and the bottom of the Ski-lift is about five miles further on.

At the Eastern end of Loch Morlich is a long wide sandy beach. How or why its  there I have no idea but with a gently shelving sandy bottom, it makes for a perfect place for water-sports. So here there is a sailing centre, Kayaking, wind-surfing you name it, they do it here if it involves water but no waves. The water in Loch Morlich is the snow-melt from Cairngorm and is freezing cold even during what the Scots laughingly refer to as "Mid- Summer"!!  

 

To be fair to the Scots, having had no personal experience of warm weather, they probably would not have spotted the mis-translation of the word summer.  In Old Norse, the word that most looks like Summer when written down would have been sunmer which translates to 'cold claggy mist'. An easy mistake to make.

As a child I remember Mike & I swimming in Loch Morlich, and though it must have been almost sub-zero in the water, I don't remember a bit of cold stopping us!  Now of course things have changed and wet-suits of every size and shape are available to hire for not very much, this raises the prospect that water-sports could in fact be fun rather than an ordeal.

 

At one end of the beach a tiny stream runs across the beach and into the loch. This is of course perfect for damming and I remember many happy hours doing just that, to create a mini-lake. This is clearly a sport still enjoyed by small boys, I can't recall ever visiting Loch Morlich and there not being evidence of recent damnation.

Up a short track from the road is Glenmore Lodge. Originally built as a shooting lodge for the Earl of Findlatter & Seafield, it has for many years been The Scottish National Outdoor Training Centre, for outdoor activity courses all year round. Many deprived city kids have spent a week here at Glen-more Lodge kayaking, sailing, horse-riding, skiing, rock climbing etc and have gone back to their grim lives aware that there can be more to life than being 'cool on the street man'.  A week spent here at Glenmore Lodge has helped many of society's losers and rejects to find some meaning in their miserable, depressing lives.

Loch an Eilein.

Alexander Stewart 1343-1405.  Earl of Buchan, known as The Wolf of Badenoch.   A right mean bugger by all accounts.

Loch An Eilein.

With it's ruined castle stuck in the middle, Loch An Eilein is instantly recognisable, and features on many Biscuit Tins, Chocolate boxes and who knows how many calendars etc. It is a truly wonderful place, like Loch Garten it is totally surrounded by what is left of the original 'old growth' Caledonian Forest. If you stand in a clearing at the far end of the loch, or clamber up a rock to get a bit of height, you can turn a full circle and see not a single building or car. Apart from some power lines in the distance this outlook can't have changed much over the past thousand years or more.

The castle was the stronghold of Alexander Stewart, the Earl of Buchan, the youngest son of King Robert II of Scotland. 

 

Hated by his friends & loathed by his enemies, he was a cruel pitiless man who did not earns his epithet of "The Wolf of Badenoch" by being nice to people. Rape and pillage was much more his line. He needed a castle stuck in the middle of a lake if he wanted to live for long. Sadly it did its job and he survived to old age.

Loch an Eilein. Click the image

to enlarge.

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