Cooking In The Highlands

What interesting weather we’ve been having! Snow, wind, rain, hail all in one week. Yet I can’t help being thankful that this year it all seems to have happened during a week that I was at home.

Last year I wasn’t so lucky. I booked a weekend with a friend in Aberdeenshire, it was October and to be honest I didn’t expect there to be any problems, not because of the weather anyway! It was a shooting weekend (as they often are this time of year) and I had left my car in Edinburgh to car share with my friend. The weekend went well, lots of shooting related hearty fare, beef consomme at eleven’s, fruit crumble, cake in the afternoon, that kind of thing. Our problems began on Sunday when it was time to leave. Snow had been falling fairly steadily all weekend, we had heard snipits on the radio about the conditions, bridges being closed and ferrys cancelled, but it was difficult to gauge whether we would be able to get back or not from the confines of the warm lodge kitchen. The answer was, basically, no.



Aberdeenshire, to be fair, wasn’t all that bad. Sure, it was snowing and the snow ploughs were out in force, but once we’d dug the car out it was pretty plain sailing, that was until we reached Dundee. By this time we had heard a selection of traffic reports which, to be honest, had not filled us with optimism. Reports were that the motorway south of Perth was closed meaning our main route back to Edinburgh was impassable. Jack knifed lorries began to litter the way and progress became painfully slow. As we closed in on Dundee we heard that the  Tay bridge was closed, our last remaining option. By this time it was dark, snow was still pouring down and the single open carriageway was making increasingly slow progress. We took the decision to carry on for Perth, perhaps the road would have reopened we mused. It didn’t and four painful hours later we were in Perth with nowhere to stay and no forward route. A small ray for hope shone through the radio speakers; the Tay bridge was reopening, the winds had dropped and it was no longer too dangerous to cross that way. We didn’t have a great deal of options and found ourselves turning around and heading back through the blizzard to Dundee. By now it was midnight and the roads were eerily quiet, the snow was still falling but progress was quicker. Over the bridge and through Fife, progress was slow but constant. Our next challenge was the Forth Road bridge, by now it was about 3am, dark, cold and rather frightening, the wind was beginning to pick up again and as we crossed the struts began to sway and we heard a crash next to the car. Four foot icicles were falling from the struts and crashing onto the road, I really thought we weren’t going to make it over, one hit the roof of the car but we kept driving. By 5am we had reached Edinburgh. My car was snowed up to the middle of the door. It wasn’t getting out the car park let alone back to Dumfries. My friend’s plane had been cancelled (the entire airport closed down) the hire car (plus one sizable dent) returned to its bay and now to make the rest of the trip via public transport. Waverly station was like a refugee camp, lots of the trains had been cancelled or delayed, an exodus of people had made their way from the airport and were desperately trying to buy tickets, children were crying, people were shouting, and we hadn’t slept since the night before.

I took the executive decision to call a friend who lived in Edinburgh. Luckily she was home and had the kettle on. Phew. Everything looked a little brighter a few hours later when I returned to the station and boarded the train to Lockerbie. Rolling through the borders you would wonder what all the fuss was about, people were going about their daily business as if there were no great drama. When my boyfriend picked me up he asked me what I had been doing for the last twenty-four hours, apparently it hadn’t even snowed in Dumfries and Galloway…

Two weekends later I cooked in a lovely lodge in Fort Augustus, this is the view of Loch Ness for the kitchen window

A week later we returned to Edinburgh for my car (we still needed to dig it out). Even now, a year later, this escapade plays on my mind, especially as next weekend I’ll be heading up to do a shooting weekend in Tigh Na Bruach… Wish me luck…




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