After a two year delay due to the Covid pandemic and much reorganisation on Michael’s part, our SoFA holiday to Scotland went ahead on Sunday 24 April. We stopped for coffee at the Tebay Hotel and then at Moffatt Mill for lunch before arriving at the Angus Hotel in Blairgowrie in the late afternoon.
On Monday morning we visited the National Trust of Scotland’s House of Dun. This early 18th century Georgian masterpiece was designed by the Scottish architect, William Adam. After splitting into three groups we were shown around the house by guides in 19th century costumes. The guides ’interviewed’ us as prospective employees which gave an interesting slant to the tour. The plasterwork in the saloon is incredible and took Dutch plasterer Joseph Enzer four years to complete. The house also contains many fine examples of needlework by Lady Augusta Fitzclarence, a daughter of King William IV, which must have taken many hours of her time.
In the afternoon we moved to Glamis Castle, reputedly the finest in Scotland. Many of us only knew it from Shakespeare’s ‘Macbeth’ so were surprised to learn it was the childhood home of the Queen Mother and birthplace of Princess Margaret. Our guide was very informative and explained how the original castle has been much extended and updated. There are extensive gardens and grounds at Glamis Castle that flourish and change throughout the open season. We were lucky to see and enjoy the beautiful spring bulbs during our visit.
We drove to Royal Deeside on Tuesday to visit Balmoral Castle. We were all keen to look around Balmoral, the Scottish holiday home to the Royal Family and were given audio guides to listen to as we walked around the grounds. The history of the castle was explained and how the estate is managed. It was too early in the year for there to be much growing in the gardens although all the fruit and vegetables are grown for the summer vacation of the Royal Family. Only the ballroom in the interior was open to the public where there was a lovely display of exhibits from our Royal Family. After our visit we were given the opportunity to walk up to Crathie Kirk, a small church best known for being the regular place of worship of the Royal Family and where Princess Anne married Commander Timothy Lawrence. We spent some of the afternoon a short drive away in Ballater a pleasant little town which is a centre for hikers.
On Wednesday morning we travelled to Dundee to visit Discovery Point and the new V&A Museum. Discovery point is home to the RRS Discovery the ship Captain Scott travelled on to the Antarctic. We spent time exploring the ship which is displayed in a purpose built dock and looking around an excellent exhibition in the Discovery centre charting the course of Antarctic exploration. The modern V&A museum next door contained many interesting exhibits including the Scottish Design Galleries featuring the architect Charles Rennie Mackintosh.
Our final visit in the afternoon was to Scone Palace, famous for the ‘Stone of Scone’ an oblong block of red sandstone that has been used for centuries in the coronation of the monarchs of Scotland. The Palace is a Category A listed building near the village of Scone and the city of Perth.
Reluctantly on Thursday morning we left Blairgowrie to head home. We had coffee and scones at South Queensferry in a cafe under the Forth rail bridge which was an imposing sight. We then continued south to the Shap Wells Hotel where we enjoyed a delicious three course lunch. Early evening saw us all safely back in Southport having enjoyed a great holiday in Scotland.
The SoFA holiday to Scotland was planned by Michael Rofe, his wife Jean and Airedale Travel. We would like to thank Michael, Jean, Airedale Travel and of course Carl our brilliant driver for such an excellent holiday. One of the highlights was being able to travel again with friends old and new following the restrictions of the past two years.
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Article supplied by Richard Hughes. Photographs by Michael Rofe.