In 2011 Sue and I went on a hike in the Burgandy area of France with a company called “Adventure Women”. The hike leader was Gillian and her sweep was a Scot named James Renny. Sue was able to contact him this trip, he drove a little over an hour from his home to meet us in Braemar. James no longer works with Gillian or Adventure Women but was happy to join us on a hike in this area. He drove us to an area he thought we would enjoy and he was right.
It was a beautiful day, we hiked about five or six miles through countryside laden with heather. It is all brown now but when it is in bloom it is a beautiful purple color.
James is very knowledgable about botany, birds and the environment in general. He pointed out a giant ant hill that was just teaming with ants.
This is a dead newt, I only show you this because James told us that when a Scot is really drunk they say he is “pissed as a newt”. Pissed means drunk not mad. As he was talking he kept using the term “crikey” which is just so scottish!
James is an artist also and has sold paintings to the Queen and Prince Charles. He had lunch with us then left promising to visit Alaska or Palm Springs one day, it was a pleasure to hike with him again.
Later in the day we explored Braemar and learned that Robert Louis Stevenson and his family came here in 1881 to experience the fresh mountain air, away from the Edinburgh smog. While here he began to write one of the most famous novels in Scottish literature Treasure Island. A number of the book’s characters, including Long John Silver himself, are allegedly named after people in the village at the time. John Silver, a meal miller, lived in Braemar and his children Alex and Sarah, both attended Braemar school.