Scottish Craft Adventure continues…Ballater to John O Groats

13 Sep

Apologies for the delay in posting this blog! I’ve been so busy with other things that I haven’t had a chance. I guess Scotland is very much on everyone’s mind this week, but I’m not going to share my opinions on the referendum here. At the very least, the news this week has given me the kick I needed to get this blog post written.  Although it’s a little late (actually nearly 6 months late!), here is the second installment of my Scottish adventure.

So, following my adventures in Edinburgh and Crieff, I finally arrived in Royal Deeside. My family and I used to spend all of our holidays in this part of the world when I was a kid, so it was really nostalgic to go back now – I’d been away for 15 years!

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The Royal Deeside landscape is utterly beautiful and unspoilt. The added bonus was that the weather was unseasonably warm, dry and sunny during my trip, so I really got to see the region at its best: clean, fresh streams, sparkling in the sun, winding their way through the heathery mountains, interspersed by ancient forests of pine. Bliss.

It was so wonderful to be back in Royal Deeside. I spent my days perusing craft shops and galleries in Braemar, pottering around Ballater village and taking long walks and bike rides in the countryside. I was really lucky to see some red deer on my travels – some a bit closer than others! I had the fortune/misfortune to see one from just a few feet away when it jumped in front of my car! I am happy to report that there were no injuries, although the deer and I both had rather a fright!

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As mentioned, I visited Braemar, which is has its very own, bespoke sporran shop (sorry to be a tourist, but how Scottish!) and is the home of aptly titled Braemar Gallery. If you are visiting this part of the world, you can’t miss it – there is a knit-bombed, giant Haggis called, appropriately, Purl, standing to attention outside.
DSCN2607Purl was created by the Deeside Knitwits, a local community knitting group. How fantastic!DSCN2608Whilst in Braemar, I also had the obligatory hot chocolate in the Fife Arms Hotel, which is certainly ‘the done thing’ whilst visiting. I was also lucky enough to be there on a rare day when Mar Lodge was open to the public – truly spectacular! Braemar has its own Creative Arts Festival, which is taking place in October this year – well worth a visit.
DSCN2757From Braemar, you can go walking in the most amazing scenery. I spent a day in scorching sunshine, walking around the Linn of Dee, which was breathtaking. I also seemed to be quite attractive to this little grouse, who seemed rather insistent in getting in my car at the end of the day – sorry buddy!

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DSC_0096  Whilst I was up in that part of the world, I became utterly obsessed with Harris Tweed. It’s absolutely everywhere and it’s gorgeous! I couldn’t afford much of it, but when I saw these buttons on a stall at a church fete in Blairgowrie, I couldn’t resist. Now I must find something to use them on…
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It seemed too soon, but it was finally time to leave Deeside and continue my trip North. I had a long day ahead of me, so after making an early start, I made it to over the mountails to Culloden for 9am, and spent a few hours walking around the misty battlefields, learning about the Jacobite uprising. It was really moving, and it’s good that the battlefield has beeen preserved by the National Trust for Scotland.

By 11am I was passing Inverness and heading upward, over the Moray Firth and up towards the top of Scotland. I have mentioned Kingcraig Fabrics in my blog before. Kingcraig is a fantastic yarn shop that I found on Ebay, and they are based on the North East coast, at Brora and Dornoch. When I discovered that I would be able to visit the actual shops on my trip, I was so excited!
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I was able to visit both shops, and the staff were really friendly and welcoming. The lovely lady at the Dornoch shop told me that owner Shaun and his wife were up the road at the Dornoch shop that day, so she directed me along the coastal route so that I had the added bonus of seeing the basking seals on the Embo coast! You definitely don’t get that in most yarn shops.

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Kingcraig had a wonderful selection of gorgeous natural yarns and woven materials. I learned that Brora had once been home to famous and very successful woollen mill called Hunters of Brora – the mill employed many people in the town and helped put Brora on the map. The mill has now closed, but some of the yarns sold at Kingcraig are high-quality remnants from the old Hunters mill.

After spending far too long choosing, I came away with some beautiful olive green yarn which was 95% merino, 5% cashmere, and some lovely cornflower blue lambswool. I also picked up a few oddments at 50p each.

As well as gorgeous yarns, Kingcraig also sold woven fabrics by the metre and had remnants to choose from too. Being naturally indecisive, I was unable to choose between all of the fabulous patterns, so I ended up buying a whole bag of remnants, in every colour imaginable!

From Kingcraig, I took a leisurely drive up the East Coast towards John O’Groats, stopping for the obligatory picture at the most northerly point. It was time to leave the Scottish mainland and head for the Orkney Isles, for the final stretch of my adventure!
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2 Responses to “Scottish Craft Adventure continues…Ballater to John O Groats”

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. Souvenir Makes no. 1: Cushion Covers | Welcome to my blog - 10/31/2014

    […] I visited the Highlands and Islands of Scotland earlier in the year, I brought back all sorts of yarns, textiles and hand made items, with the plan of making them into new, unique things for my […]

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  2. Souvenir Makes No. 4: A Swedish Christmas | Welcome to my blog - 01/26/2015

    […] I’m faring better than when I promised you I would post some articles about my Scottish road trip, and I didn’t complete the tale until 9 months later. My tardiness is slightly […]

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