by Travel correspondent, Amos Oddie
Each year hundreds of tourists clamber up to Edinburgh Castle, whilst others buzz around the isle of Skye like a wasps around a bin. Many people tell me that Arbroath is the jewel of the North. But did you know that some of the greatest things to see in Western Scotland are right here in the Ochentosh area?
1 Minchie Gardens
These beautiful gardens, situated on the coast between Ochentosh and Minchie, contain some specimens you might expect to find in the jungles of the Amazon. Towering rainforest trees, bright tropical flowers. How is this possible you may ask? Minchie Gardens are warmed by the Golf stream, a flow of warm water that runs from the Carribean across the Atlantic to Northern Europe. Once it gets here the warm water is trapped by Loch Minchie. Indeed the locals swear that bathing in Loch Minchie is just like relaxing in a warm bath. Open every day except Shrove Tuesday.
If history is your passion then a visit to the tiny hamlet of Pishdribbl is a must-do. It was here at Pishdribbl, in 1745, that the Young Pretender, Bonny Prince Charlie, on his way to claim the throne, stopped to relieve himself. Today the spot is marked only by a small stone near a boggy area. Rated as the number one attraction in Pishdribble on Trip Advisor last year. Local historian, Agnes Giddins runs guided tours of the site (10 pounds payable in advance) daily, except Thursdays
3 The Flinge Experience
The advent of modern materials like carbon fibre and marshmallow has all but wiped out the use of old-fashioned flinge. It’s hard to image that Western Scotland once produced four thousand tons of flinge each year. In fact, almost all the flinge required by the enormous British Empire was hand-produced by an army of crofter’s in the local area.
The Ochentosh area, with its damp and windy conditions is perfect, both for harvesting yarp and for making it into flinge. Indeed so pure was it’s product, it is said the Queen Victoria would only use flinge produced in Ochentosh. Now you can amaze your friends by visiting the Flinge Experience where you can see flinge being hand-scroggled in the traditional manner, but also take home a small jar of your very own to rub on at your leisure. The Flinge Experience is open every-day of the year, except obviously Shrove Tuesday, and cost 25 pounds per person. Protective clothing is provided.
4 The Big Haggis
Ever wondered how haggis is made? Or indeed why? The Big Haggis has the answers. You can’t miss it, the giant plastic haggis that stands at the entrance has been an iconic attraction since 1972 when, local entrepreneur, Miles Frequent-Flyer erected it. You can even make your own haggis, or if the thought of it makes you pale, just buy some from the well-stocked shop. The Big Haggis is open every day except Shrove Tuesday. 4 pounds per person.
5 Ochentosh Tobogan Centre
If winter sports are your thing then make sure the Ochentosh Toboggan Centre is on your bucket list. Open from February 8th right through to February 19th, the centre offers an exciting toboggan experience. After an tension-building tractor ride up the hill, you can choose from a selection of hand-crafted toboggans, put on your helmet, take a big gulp of home-made whisky, and then experience the ride of your life, as you speed back down. Helmets included. Two rides 11 pounds. Whisky extra.
6 The Old Man of Kinmuckle
No trip to Western Scotland would be complete without clambering up Ochentosh’s own mini-mountain, The Old Man of Kinmuckle. Especially as the Old Man has been enhanced with several tones of gravel last year adding an impressive eighteen feet of extra height. The views from the top are simply breathtaking! Free.
7 Ochentosh Whisky Tasting Experience
I you love the sniffing the malty aroma of the bottom of a whisky bottle in the morning, then the Ochentosh Whisky Trail is for you. Ted MacDougall has built one the finest whisky tasting centres right in his back garden and stocked it with a variety of the finest examples of the amber fluid.
Getting to Ochentosh
But you say, where is Ochentosh, and how do I get there…..
Ochentosh lies in north-eastern part of western Scotland. Travelling north from Glasgow on the A99 then west on the B3467 towards Slange before turning south to the . Keep Loch Feartie on your right and if you reach Minchie you’ve gone too far.
By Air: You can fly direct to Minchie International airport. Flights twice a week to and from the Faroe Islands.
by Harry Beast
Minchie man, Ernest Crop, 62, wipes away a tear as he tells the heart-warming tale of how he found the love of his life using just his mobile phone.
“Marrying Consuela is the most fantastic thing that ever happened to me,” says Ernest, sitting next to his wife in the kitchen of their Minchie maisonette. Ernest works as a chartered accountant for a local firm.
“And to find this beautiful woman using a mobile phone was a stroke of genius.”
Raven-haired Consuela, 39, originally from Columbia, blushes as Ernest recounts their story.
“It happened in B&Q last week,” explains Ernest. “I was in the electrical aisle trying to work out the cost benefit of buying an LED light bulb.”
“I had worked out that although the bulb will last seven years, when you take into account the higher upfront cost, you will only start to recoup that initial investment after four. It was at this point that I noticed Consuela had wandered off into soft furnishings.”
“I sent her a message; ‘Where R U’, using the letters R and U instead of the words ‘Are’ and ‘You’ to save time.”
“A few minutes later I found her next to the garden tools.”
Ernest met Consuela at an accountancy conference in Huddersfield. The couple married in Bogota last September.
by Amos Oddie
“I was amazed,” said publican Jessie Scraper, from the bar at the Bull and Thistle in Minchie.
“Most of our customers eat the pie or the fish but leave the salad,” explained Jessie. That was the case until last Thursday when an unnamed customer arrived from Glasgow driving a Peugeot.
He even ate the parsley
“He ordered the cod and chips, said Jessie. “But then I noticed he was eating the lettuce and the lemon with the chips. He even ate the sprig of parsley.”
Mr Scraper who has been landlord at the Bull since 1987, has helped to put Minchie on the map, not only with his easy-on-the-pocket family friendly menu, but also with his extensive range of craft whiskies.
The Bull and Thistle,rated as the fourth best pub in Minchie by TripAdvisor, has recently refurbished its toilets.
Regarding the eating habits of the metropolitan patrons and their fondness for salad, the Bull’s landlord simply said, “I suppose I’ll have to go to the Co-op and buy some more.”
by Mungo MacIntyre
“Its a much needed boost,” says mini-golf manager Vance Loft, speaking from the ticket booth of the Ochentosh Crazy Golf centre.
News that the esteemed Trump organisation is to pump millions of dollars into redeveloping the centre as a ‘luxury golfing experience’ is rapidly spreading through town. “To be honest we need investment,” says Loft. “String and chewing gum is all that’s holding the windmill on the seventh hole together.”
A five-star hotel, sauna, and conference centre are all being considered, according to manager Loft, who says negotiations with the Trump organisation are at an advanced stage.
Parish councillor, Anna Nettle (56) says council will do whatever it takes to seal the deal with the American property tycoon and president. “We’ll even offer Mr Trump the keys to the town. They’re mostly ceremonial, but he’ll get free parking in the Pay and Display and the right to kiss Miss Ochentosh at the Annual Fete.”
When asked, the Trump organisation said they were unable to confirm or deny the plans, but local golfer, Rae Boundy, 37, playing a round this morning with her daughter Tilly, 6, agreed: ‘It’s going to be a yuuuge success!’
By Mungo MacIntyre
The Ochentosh Adviser asked Susan Boyle, the well known singer and runner-up of ‘Britains’ Got Talent’ to review Scotland’s chances in the World Cup. Here’s what she said..
So I’ve trudged, ankle deep, through the purple heather, along the glen, through the peaty bog, across the babbling burn, past the Two Ways Inn, by the video shop, and the homeless shelter, to the Happy Shopper to get some Tartan lager, a pork pie, and a packet of Bensons. And, suitably nourished, I’m now sat here in the snug, with my terrier, Hansen, curled up at my feet.
Hansen just loves world cup football. Every time a team score against England he yaps excitedly and jumps in the air. And when Wayne Rooney’s ugly mug is on the telly, I sing “Rooooooney” and Hansen goes wild and barks at the TV. That Hansen is a little scamp! I’ve no idea what Hansen does when Scotland play in the World Cup, but then I’ve only had him for twelve years.
You know they say that pets look like their owners, and I think it might be true! After all Hansen has dark, stubbly, hair all over his body and I do too.
Well I remember as a wee girl sitting on my Da’s lap while he told me stories about how Scotland once went to the World Cup and England didn’ae. Yes it’s true, it happened in nineteen-hundred and seventy-eight. My Da said Scotland have been to World Cup again since but always can’t wait to get straight back home again.
Anyhow, how did your teams do yesterday? Did you sing “Allez Les Bleus” or maybe “Allez a votre pays de domicile you froggy whingeurs”?
It’s squeaky bum time tonight for the Socceroos and also for England. Will Wayne Rooney surprise everyone – by stringing together another complete sentence for the fans?
Anyone But England,