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May 2021

cinn head of (at the) + ghiuthsaich Scottish Gaelic pine wood.

Population - 1,410.

Highland Coat of Arms

Bang in the centre of the bottom bit of the Scottish Highlands, this just about qualifies as the  Cairngorms making for a rollercoaster ride up, down and in on the  A9[1].

You can get here by train, as did Victorian toffs at the time, all the way from  London and all top-hatted and tittering at all talk of the tossing of cabers, no doubt.

[1] Which, by the way, is the best road in the UK by at least 250 country miles.

Just outside of the station, you'll encounter a fountain, 'gifted' to the town by a local lad done good who'd made a bundle selling Singer™ sewing machines in Brazil, seriously.

Some missionary work may have been involved and Peter Alexander Cameron MacKenzie, who couldn't sound any more Scottish, save a Hamish, was even awarded the title of the Count de Serra Largo, whatever or wherever that is?

This from the King of Portugal, no less, for 'mysterious' services in South America but as for MacKenzie's benevolent gesture? A little self-indulgent, perhaps, and it's bet the good folk of Kingussie would have preferred some flushing lavs back in 1911.

Kingussie's war memorial commemorates a time not long after that in a green and open space, not that they're short of that in these parts.

This, indeed, looks to be a base for ramblers of a certain age so this pair should fit right in, right? They're all kitted out to be off and up into the not-too-strenuous-looking foothills and not just a looping walk to a little,  local waterfall but there's no time for neither of those today.

No, there's an RSPB™ reserve nearby and it's gonna need a right good looking at!

  Duke of Gordon (Newtonmore Road)

Recently re-opened and sizeable operation that's named after the old landowning laird who founded the town. Archie MacDonald is at the bar, haggling over a haunch of venison with which to pay the staff at his debt-ridden estate.

Oh! Hang on! That was  Monarch of the Glen and they filmed some of it in here 20 years before the refurbishment.

Heading out south past the train station and under the, quite frankly, magnificent A9, there's something in the distance that could conceivably be a castle?

Ruthven Barracks, however, ain't no castle rather the remarkably intact remains of a very early, 18th-century, erm, barracks.

Constructed under the instruction of General George Wade, he had been sent up to Scotland to sort out the succession of Jacobite Rebellions, which were, quite simply, getting on George I's nerves.

Various ding-dongs ensued ending up with the place set afire by a handful of home supporters following a disappointing home defeat at Culloden.

It can't have been much of a fire, the remnants are essentially the aftermath and  Historic Environment Scotland will let you in and around for nowt.

Not wishing to skirt around the most important period in Scottish history, probably, that does appear to be what has just happened but there's an RSPB™ reserve nearby, remember?

There's a hint of the terrain from the back of the barracks looking back at Kingussie, the floodplain of the River Spey, Scotland's fastest flowing and famed provider of salmon and whisky but no, not that kind of pickled herring.

What it is not, however, is a great provider of whistling wildlife with just a solitary duck and what's probably a pigeon, neither shown.

That, however, is down to the unseasonably cold and continuing spring of 2021 and the  Insh Marshes RSPB™ Reserve is 10-kms2 of migrating waders and ospreys, when in season.

It's less than a mile from the barracks and also free to wander in and around, donations welcome, and they've even laid on a viewing platform for a closer look at that duck.

Meanwhile, back in Kingussie, things are only starting to reopen after stage whatever it was of you-know-what although, amazingly, the tribal rug importers, seriously, are still  trading along there.

There's another 'gift' to the town up on the left, this one a clocktower from a random New Zealander and from where it's a short trot to Boa Vista Road.

The clue's in the name where there's more fine work from the Count de Serra Largo, or Peter Alexander Cameron Hamish MacKenzie, remember him? It might just be an unpaved track with 4 turn-of-the-century cottages, not shown, but one thing's for sure...

They might have them, these days, but it was just a bit too early for the prodigal, Portuguese son to plumb in those flushing lavs.

That's why the good folk of Kingussie had to pretend to be grateful for a fountain.