One wonders what goes through the minds of an average tourist coming to Scotland. Like it or lump it we have an international reputation for about 5 things. We can haggle over the order they appear in the mind of a foreigner but we will probably all agree that Scotch Whisky is number one. I was sitting outside last week after a hard shift in the garden, sipping on my tea. And yes, it was tea, as it was quite early in the afternoon, when some rather flustered folk wandered along the Badendoch way into Drumguish. There was quite a gaggle of them and they were all inappropriately dressed. What I mean by that is they didn’t have the pre- requisite heavy boots, waterproofs, back-packs, grim faces in the rain etc. I had seen them go past about 10 minutes previously heading towards Inveruglass. The road to Inveruglass from Drumguish starts off tarmac, then goes a little rough, then pretty rough, then becomes full-blown, old-fashioned Scottish bog. These tourists had been following their sat-nav religiously and it had taken them on an off-road route to an imaginary distillery. I asked them whether they were after the Drumguish distillery (at the bottom of the brae on the main road) but they said “no, they were after Dalwhinnie”. How a satnav would take you up the A9 past Kingussie, through Drumguish to find Dalwhinnie mystifies me. Having spoken to one of the Dalwhinnie tour guides (Peter) last week I heard they are massively busy with tours. Think how busy they would be if all the tourists could actually find them! My wife made tea and provided Chocolate hobnobs for our muddy-footed guests from Malta. Asked why they had come to Scotland they answered “to get away from the heat and visit a distillery”. Well, they picked the right country for that on both counts. “William with the off-road truck” was duly summoned and very kindly agreed to come along. Ten minutes later he went returned in failure, “we need a bigger truck” was muttered and “I’ve never seen anyone get so far up that sheep track”. Think “ending of the Italian Job” scenario, teetering on the edge of the cliff. Ok, in this case it was a forrestry drainage ditch, but no less dramatic. A few more phone calls later, an extremely kindly friend of William came along. A man with a proper, off-road, farming fork-lift to save the day for the bedraggled Maltese tourists. William and the fork-lift owner refused payment of any kind. The Maltese duly went to Kingussie to buy multiple bottles of whisky and flowers and returned gushing with gratitude. I think everyone in the Strath is also invited to their house in Valetta for a meal at any point (contact me for details!). Can I say that it warms my heart that the best efforts of devious satnavs can’t undermine the genuine hospitality of the Strath locals. I do hope the Maltese found Dalwhinnie in the end. I do also hope they tried it with chocolate. Whisky and chocolate is heavenly, almost as good as red wine and chocolate! Or is that everything and chocolate, who knows?


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