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The Country Rocks! Diary of A Highland Hussy…

Need a break from the old routine?Ai??

Want to escape the big smoke?

Well, what are you waiting for?Ai?? Head for the hills….

The Country Rocks!

I'm just back from a wild mini break in the heart of the Scottish Highlands.Ai?? Here's the diary – and plenty of holiday inspiration for you too!

DAY 1 – SATURDAY

So, my buddy Jennifer and I took the high road on a girlie road trip!Ai?? We toyed with the idea of travelling by train to be eco-friendly, but unfortunately, to make the most of the highlands, you really need a wee car to get around.Ai?? Luckily for us Jennifer borrowed her Dad's ride. A Jaguar. Bling bling!Ai?? Now, that's how I like to roll! Except, not really because it's not exactly a little car…and that would have been more eco…CUT.

Just this once, I allowed myself to nestle luxuriantly amidst the dark mahogany and leather.Ai?? Oh yes…..

Sadly, the expertly compiled itunes playlist, created by me especially for the trip, wasn't compatible with the car's sound system. What!?Ai?? Sigh. It's ok. We made do with wrecking my iphone speakers and singing along loudly…

Road Trip Songs – Top 5

Jake Bugg – Lightening Bolt
Ima Robot – Greenback Boogie
M83 – Midnight City
If I Die Young – The Band Perry
Make A Beast Of Myself – Twin Atlantic

We travelled from Edinburgh – around lunchtime – so a pit-stop half way to refuel on tea and bacon rolls seemed like a common sense decision.Ai?? I HIGHLY recommend Ballanluig Service Motor Grill. It feels like being in an American truckers diner – complete with free coffee and tea refills.Ai?? The Best!

Finally, after lots of slowing down to look in awe at undulating Perthshire hills giving way to the rugged drama of the north, we finally arrived in Aviemore! It's worth noting that “highland hospitality” is alive and well! Look how they welcomed us…

Aviemore is a kind of funky highland town.Ai?? It has the alpine feel of a French ski-resort. In fact, the description “alpine” comes up a lot. There's plenty of bars and cafes, hotels,Ai?? B&Bs and mountain sports shops.Ai?? You'll even find a few high street names – Fat Face, Waterstones, Rohan.Ai?? We checked into MacDonald Resort, which boasts all kinds of features – spa, cinema, restaurants, shopsAi?? – and a 4 star rating.Ai?? Our experience at their Highlands Hotel did not feel 4 star.Ai?? It was alright, but it lacked…polish.Ai?? Next time, the plan is to stay in one of the down-to-earth chalets or a B&B.Ai?? The best place to find accommodation is on this website.

Anyway, after listening to more tunes in the hotel room, quaffing prosecco and getting dolled up, we headed for the buzzing night spots!Ai?? For dinner, we couldn't resist Papa Rocka no-messin', fun-lovin', biker lovin' restaurant & bar where the owners David and Gwen will give you a genuine warm welcome and a huge menu!Ai?? Don't expect to find a fancy, fine-dining restaurant in Aviemore – this town is catering for outdoor adventurers who want good hearty fayre!

Drinks. Ready for a few night caps, we took a tip from David at Papa Rock and headed across the road to the Skiing Doo. That's me in the picture, waiting for my drink and feeling pretty chuffed about finding this place.Ai?? SECRET INFO:Ai?? The Skiing Doo may look like it's just a restaurant. Ai?? IT ISN'T. Even if the restaurant upstairs is closed for the night, try the door – you'll probably find it's open. Next, head through the darkness and down the stairs to discover a cool, hidden basement bar – wall to wall pine, old ski kit and other mountain paraphernalia hanging from the walls, a central bar, friendly barman, great pub music…and cocktails!Ai?? Great cocktails, actually.Ai?? I recommend the Mojito. Jennifer enjoyed the Old Fashioned.

Well, it was a long day so we decided to call it a night, via a trip to Mambos.Ai?? Once the self-proclaimed “Ibiza of the North”, it's still the home of stag nights and heavy dance beats.Ai?? If this is the kind of wild life you like, you won't be disappointed.Ai?? We just had the one…

DAY 2 – SUNDAY

Now, hear this! You don't go to Aviemore during summer without fitting in at least one of the following outdoor activities – hiking or kayaking.Ai?? So, we set out in the morning, packed a picnic, some waterproofs and hiking boots and parked at The Glenmore Visitor Centre, opposite Loch Morlich.Ai?? It'sAi?? just outside of town on the Coylumbridge/Cairngorm route.Ai?? We braced ourselves against the slight morning chill in the air and headed out on a wild adventure.Ai?? There are so many walks, you're spoiled for choice.Ai?? The team at the visitor centre can help you choose the best one for your fitness level.Ai?? If you want to go up a mountain – and even bag a munro – you can start from here.Ai?? Or, head all the way up to the carpark at the Cairngorm mountain range.Ai?? However, we're not ones to exert ourselves, so we opted for the beautiful and not too challenging trail to The Green Loch aka The Fairy Loch aka An Lochan Uaine.

Personally, I love the story behind its most romantic name – The Fairy Loch.Ai?? According to local legend, the loch gets its incredible green colour from the dye which pours from the fairy clothes while they're being washed – by fairies.Ai?? How cute?!

After a long walk, there's nothing else for it.Ai?? Afternoon Tea.Ai?? We opted for the bijou, alpine-feel of the cafe/shop in the grounds ofAi??Glenmore Campsite.Ai?? You can watch red squirrels and various little birds playing in the trees just beyond the window, while scoffing down mugs of tea and dime bar cake, feeling pretty smug about the big walk you've just done.Ai?? Afterwards, a short stroll took us to the beach at Loch Morlich where there's nothing more pleasant than hiring a kayak from The Boat House and enjoying a paddle on the tranquil loch.Ai?? Alternatively, there's also a great watersports centre and cafe – with wrap around balcony seating – at Loch Inch.Ai?? It's just a few miles further from town.Ai?? Both are beautiful places to enjoy lazying on a sunny afternoon.

Finally, back at the hotel, after a siesta and getting prettied up again, we headed back to the main strip. This time, we enjoyed a traditional pub meal at The Winking Owl; young bar staff, Florence & The Machine on the speakers, scampi and chips, attic-style pine ceilings.Ai?? What's not to love?Ai?? Still, we just had to finish up our stay with more drinks at what we now fondly call “The Secret Basement Bar” in the Skiing Doo.Ai?? Also, it would have been rude not to round off the weekend with a fine Scottish whisky.Ai?? So, that's what we did….

DAY 3 – MONDAY

We packed up, had breakfast and headed south, full of fresh air and highland spirits!

So, Do You Fancy A Highland Fling?

There's no bad time of year to visit Aviemore. There's so much to do in summer and winter, its an outdoor adventurers paradise.Ai?? However, if you also love a boot stompin', hip shakin'Ai?? Saturday night – dancing to something other than 90s style dance music – you may be disappointed. We aren't aware of too many options…

UNLESS, you join us at our own special, one-off party event.Ai?? It's in Aviemore – at Papa Rock – on Saturday 8th September and YOU'RE INVITED!Ai?? So, book your accommodation, hit the high roads and help us prove a point….

Find out more at www.countryrocksaviemore.blogspot.com

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