Castle Hopping, Golf and Whisky – Oh My!
Day four of Bryan Clay and Jeremy Campbell's Team USA: Britain Bound tour continued in earnest - with a visit to Andrew Carnegie's famous Skibo Castle and then a trip to a traditional Scottish whisky distillery providing a day full of highlights.
After a good night of sleep in Ross-shire, the pair loaded up for the drive to Dornoch and a visit to Skibo Castle. The private club features 2500 acres of pristine landscape, manicured gardens, fishing and hunting areas and a renowned golf course. Clay and Campbell started their visit with a trip to the golf course and a personal lesson from the club professional on the practice tees. With a refined swing and better understanding of the course, the world class athletes teed off, experiencing first hand both the beauty, and the difficulty, of links golf in Scotland.
After the round ended, they moved inside the castle itself for lunch (featuring saddle of venison, glazed baby turnips and chocolate and Bramble Clafoutis) in the Card Room and then a personal tour of the historic castle and the surrounding grounds.
Well exercised and well fed, the group returned to the vehicles for the two-hour trip south to Pitlochry and a tour of Edradour Distillery, Scotland's smallest whisky distillery.
The pair had given a tour of the cask storeroom holding over five thousand casks of whisky and also received a lesson in whisky production from the distillery owner, Andrew Symington.
After spending the night in Pitlochry, tomorrow holds a visit to the River Tay for fishing with the local Ghillie (guide) and the return trip to Edinburgh.
Today I visited the Skibo Castle in Dornoch and the Edradour distillery in Pitlochry
My favorite part of the day was visiting Skibo Castle. We had lunch in the Card Room, which we were told was Mrs. Carnegie's favorite room, and then toured the castle. I really liked the famous gun room at the castle – it was a room dedicated to the history of hunting and fishing on the property. Our host shared a lot of great history about the castle.
I was most surprised by how big the castle grounds are and the variety of things you can do right there on the grounds - hunt, fish, hike, bike, golf, horseback ride. Add that to eating, drinking tea and coffee and relaxing. It's an amazing place.
I wish I had more time at Skibo Castle. It would to stay there for a while and experience all of it. And take part in some of the traditional events that the guests and members enjoy.
Today in three words: interesting, educational, relaxing.
As an athlete I can really appreciate how hard it is to master the game of golf. I got some really good tips today from the pro and had some nice shots but it’s clear I need to start playing a lot more. Even being frustrated at points didn’t stop me from enjoying an amazing course.
The distillery was a great experience. The owner was really welcoming and shared a lot about his business and the process of making whisky, so much that I didn't know.
Tomorrow, I am looking forward to fly fishing for salmon. I love to fish so I know it's going to be a great day
Team USA athletes Bryan Clay and Jeremy Campbell wrapped up an unforgettable Britain Bound tour of Scotland today by spending the morning fishing on the scenic River Tay before returning to Edinburgh late this afternoon.
The pair, enjoying a four day tour that started at the Edinburgh Castle in the heart of the capital city to points in the beautiful Scottish Highlands and back, had been eagerly anticipating the fishing expedition and it and didn't disappoint.
After meeting their Ghillie (guide), Colin McFadyen, at a cabin near Pitlochry, Clay and Campbell were lead to a secluded beach on the River Tay where they were given a quick history of the river, as well as tips for pulling Salmon from the river. They then spent the morning casting for the running salmon, and though they didn't catch land a fish on this outing, they thoroughly enjoyed the experience of fishing one of Scotland's famous rivers.
After one final lunch of fish and chips in Pitlochry, Clay and Campbell returned to Edinburgh where they checked into the renowned Hilton Caledonian. Tomorrow sees them fly home and, after a memorable Team USA: Britain Bound tour of Scotland, return to training for the London Olympic and Paralympic Games next summer.
Of all the things we did in Scotland I think I am most excited about fishing. I love to fish at home as way of getting away from the stresses of competing and I had heard stories about fishing in Scotland so this was a great opportunity for me. My only regret is that I didn't have longer to spend out there – I know I could spend all day casting.
After fishing in Scotland, I am pretty sure I have figured out what I want to do after I am done competing. I want to be a Ghillie (guide) in Scotland like Colin, our guide this morning on the River Tay. The Ghillie take visitors to the area fishing and hunting, knows all the good spots and spends his days on the rivers and in the fields of Scotland. Sounds like a perfect job.
I am still in awe of Scotland's natural beauty. We saw a lot of the country and all of it was truly stunning. I took a lot of pictures on my Samsung Tablet so I am really looking forward to getting home and going through all of them. It is really cool to think that we started in Edinburgh, a big, cosmopolitan city, and then within a couple of hours by car were in the Highlands enjoying some of the most incredible natural scenery you can imagine.
I will never forget the Highland Games and trying the events with Jeremy and some of the competitors at Invercharron. Sport is obviously a huge part of life for me and to see people competing in different types of sports, but with the same enthusiasm I know, was really cool. I felt at home there competing and spending time with those athletes.
As I prepare to leave, I have to say visiting Scotland was amazing. The people were very welcoming and really proud of their country and their heritage. I learned a ton about the people we met about the places we visited and the great history. I wouldn't hesitate to recommend Scotland to any of my friends and family. And to anyone traveling to London next summer, put Scotland on your list of places to visit. I know I hope to see all my new friends in Scotland again soon.
No trip to Scotland would be complete without a round of golf. After spending the night at Kincraig Castle, Bryan and Jeremy made their way to one of Scotland most exclusive golf clubs for a private lesson: the Carnegie Club at Skibo Castle
Inside scoop: This is also where Madonna married Guy Ritchie and Scottish racing driver Dario Franchitti married Ashley Judd!
After a round of golf it would seem only appropriate to celebrate with a 'wee dram of whisky' as they say 'round here.
So it was off to Edradour Distillery – Scotland's smallest and the last survivor of the long tradition of farmhouse distilleries, known for producing Scotland's national drink. Here the boys sampled some fine whisky and had a master class – who knew there was so much to learn!
Evening & Next Day
An early night tonight as tomorrow there were fish to be caught!
Bryan is a huge fan of fishing so he was exceptionally excited to hear that he was going on a private trout fishing expedition on the River Tay. Scotland has some of the world's most beautiful nature and wilderness to explore. The adventures are endless.
But alas, more adventures would have to wait until Bryan returns to defend his title in 2012. For now, it was time for him to gather his stories (like the one about the huge fish that got away!) and venture home.
Don't worry Bryan there will be many more trout waiting for you when you return!
Then it was back to Edinburgh for one last night back before returning back to the USA. This time at the Caledonian Hilton, right on Edinburgh's famed Princes Street. Thank you Hilton for being such a huge supporter of Team USA!