As much as I love Edinburgh and its festivals, you just can't beat a couple of days away from it all sometimes. I managed to escape last weekend and spent some time in Rannoch, where I attended my first ever Rannoch Highland Gathering, met some lovely locals, had some 3-generation-girly time with my mum and gran, and finally managed to sample the tasty delights of Treats!
I travelled up on Friday evening after a not-so-fun day at Stag. I was a bit grumpy and just wasn't feeling in the mood to be nice to people... probably cos I already wanted to be in Rannoch! Anyway, the drive up was pretty smooth compared to my last trip in April when we had decided to experiment with public transport. Thanks to Citylink and their inability to stick to a timetable, we ended up having to fork out £40 for a taxi from Pitlochry to Rannoch! Ooft. But, the bonus of that taxi ride was that I discovered the Trinafour road. For those of you who haven't been to Rannoch before, it's located 20 miles west of Pitlochry, along a very twisty road. My one and only car accident happened on that road about 4 years ago and there are quite a few hairy bends. The Trinafour road though is much shorter, less winding, and seems much easier to drive. I think it's my new favourite route!
When I arrived, my mum and gran were already settled into the caravan, dinner in the oven and bottle of wine ready to be cracked open! We had a good natter and got a fairly early night, as Saturday was going to be a long day.
In all the years I've been going to Rannoch (almost 30, ahem...) I've never once been to the Gathering. Madness! This year I'd offered to help man the Rannoch & Tummel Tourism Association stall, along with Annie and Bob, and had printed off a load of visitor and resident surveys to try and get filled in. I'd say our day was a success! We managed to get a good pile of surveys filled in and chatted to a lot of nice people. I met quite a few locals who remembered my great uncle Duncan fondly so that was nice too. If you've been to Rannoch, or if you're lucky enough to live there, feel free to take part in the survey by following these links:
I'm a Resident
I'm a Visitor
You'll be entered into a prize draw to win a £20 voucher which can be redeemed at any of the RTTA member businesses.
There was a really good turn out for the Gathering in general, with a mix of locals and tourists, and the sun shone for most of the day! I think my highlight would have to be watching the winner of the hill race cross the finishing line in 23 minutes and 22 seconds! This is them setting off...
And this is the hill they ran up! Mad, the lot of them!
On Sunday morning, the three of us went for a much gentler walk up at Carie. It's a Forestry Commission site on the south shore of the loch and has some great walks. We just took a short stroll since granny is in her 80's, but managed to find this nice viewpoint.
There's some good facilities too... I'd highly recommend using the loos. Clean and bright with a nice wooden smell, and with a good stock of soap, paper towels and bog roll. What more could you ask for!
This picnic area looks good too. Think I'll go back next time.
This time tho, granny was treating us to lunch at Treats, the new cafe in Kinloch Rannoch! I had a huge mug of tea to begin with, since walking is thirsty work, and ordered the Farmers Platter which I'm pretty sure is meant for sharing, but I was starving.
Mmmm, it was delicious... Pitlochry ham, four different Scottish (and I think organic) cheeses, a lovely salad, a couple of chunks of tasty bread and some chutney. Amazing! I wolfed it all down in no time.
And it was impossible to ignore the tasty looking cakes on the counter, so I also had a massive slab of carrot cake (which I think had either a hint of cardamom or nutmeg in it, instead of the usual cinnamon) and a latte. Now, since I've worked in cafe's in Edinburgh, which serve Artisan Roast coffee and are very particular about how it is served, I've become something of a coffee snob, so I have to apologise to Jane and the lovely staff at Treats. I was expecting my latte to be disappointing. Ok, so the latte glass didn't have an Easyosy cosy round it, and there wasn't a fern or a heart in the milk, but it was much nicer than I thought it would be and I didn't suffer from any post-coffee jitters ! So, I hang my head in coffee-snobbery-shame and take it all back.
Treats is definitely worth a visit. As well as the food being amazingly tasty, the place has a lovely feel about it, there's some fantastic photography on the walls, the staff are really friendly and the wee shop is well stocked with good quality gifts. A welcome addition to the Rannoch area. I'll be back soon!
And now, less than a week later, I'm trying to remember the peace and tranquillity of Rannoch after another manic week in Edinburgh. Although, I have to admit, I am going to miss the mayhem when it's all gone in September...