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Real Ale Tour - Scotland

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Well it’s the holiday season so what better way to start than a “Caravan” tour? Inspired by Tim I’m setting off on a seven day jaunt around Scotland. The aim is to take in a number of far flung Real Ale Breweries across the region. I'd like to invite you along to savour the virtual beers on my journey of discovery.

I’m starting from what is effectively my home airport Newcastle (EGNT) although being a Sunderland chap born and bred I would dearly have loved to fly from Sunderland Airport. This alas is not possible, formerly RAF Usworth a Royal Air Force station which was closed in 1958. On 3 July 1962, RAF Usworth was purchased by Sunderland Corporation for £27,000, and reopened as Sunderland Airport. Sunderland Corporation re-laid the runways and renovated the hangar, and in June 1963, Sunderland Flying Club came into being. On 28 June 1964, an Open Day and commemorative ceremony took place to celebrate the rebirth of what was then Sunderland Airport. Unfortunately progress was required for the region and the closure of the airport followed in 1984, the site being redeveloped as a manufacturing facility for Nissan cars.


This site and its wonderful real ale brewery map here provided me with invaluable information and matched with Tim's wonderful Plan G allows me to plot my drinking path.

Anyway I digress back to the Real Ale Tour (Scotland Edition). My home town (now City) was famous for three things, Coal Mining, Shipbuilding and Beer in the form of the Vaux Breweries. And so the journey begins although my final tipple will take place here after the seventh leg.

The Journey Begins

The First Leg

This will take us north up the coast to Berwick on the England Scotland border, then on to Musselburgh before landing in Edinburgh to seek our first Real Ale Brewery and of course the inevitable first pint.


The thirsty work awaits as the "Caravan" leaves EGNT in search of the finest brews


The journey north takes in the historical Bamburgh Castle in Northumberland


The invasion begins as we cross the border at Berwick into Scotland


In true Scottish style there's thunder and lightning brewing as well as the ale


Safely down at Edinburgh EGPH - time to unload the overnight bag


Find a taxi and leave the airport in search of our first brewery


A short ride into the centre of Edinburgh and here it is - The Caledonian Brewing Co Ltd. It dates back to the 1860’s but in 1919 was operated by my home town Brewery Vaux.


And last but not least to choose the first of our many pints of Real Ale - hope you all enjoy it.

The first pint Deuchars IPA – ABV 3.8% Ingredients Malts: Golden Promise and Optic. Hops: Fuggles, Super Styrian Goldings.


Where next I wonder? Time will tell

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Nice posting, pics and story.

One question. You said this is holiday season. Which holidays?

Thank you for your comments. In the UK it is the start of the summer holiday season where kids stop attending school for 6 weeks or so and many families take the opportunity for a holidday (vacation). Often to sunnier climates given the tremendous weather we get in the UK :001_th_smiles48:

Personally I'm off to Tuscany in August for two weeks of sun, culture and of course the wine. :icon_thumbup:

Galileo Galilei International Airport (Airport Code - IATA: PSA, ICAO: LIRP) is an airport located in Pisa, Italy. It is the main airport in Tuscany. It is named after Galileo Galilei, a famous scientist and native of Pisa. :D Must try flying into there before I go :wootmesalia:

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Hey Graeme, you have been doing this flight sim thing for years right?!

That was a superb post, hopefully you didn't have too much to drink :wootmesalia:

Thanks Joe. Somehow it seems I can have as much "Virtual Beer" as I like and feel absolutely fine the next day!! :dance3:

If only real life was the same :rolleyes: At least the "Virtual Beer" allows me to fly safely next morning :pilotic:

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The Journey Continues

A cosy night in Edinburgh satisfied that the first taste of ale had simply whetted the appetite for more. After a hearty breakfast it was back to Edinburgh Airport to pick up the “Caravan” and consider our onward journey. A 6:30 am start for the 110 nm journey further north which would take us across some of the most stunning areas of Scotland. “Caravan” packed and ready the second leg of the journey begins.


The Second Leg

Bright and early the "Caravan" departs initially we head in a north easterly direction towards the home of golf St Andrews.


Over St Andrews before a change of heading as we head in a more north westerly direction.


The sun shines and yesterday's thunder storms seem a distant memory - the sun does shine in the UK just not very often.


And it shines some more as we head to the hills


Into the Cairngorm Mountains


The cloud returns to shroud the hill tops


Our destination airport looms - approaching Inverness Airport EGPE


Safely on the ground it's time to unpack the bags from the back of the "Caravan"


Departure from airport to seek transport to our destination


This time a short boat trip by some kindly local folk will carry us across the Moray Firth and into Munlochy Bay and the Black Isle Brewery – Old Allangrange, Munlochy. This was to be the source of our second drop of Real Ale on our wonderful journey. At one time there were three breweries in Inverness and another in Cromarty - sadly they no longer exist. But, carrying on that tradition, Black Isle Brewery Ltd - small and intensely independent - is dedicated to producing quality beer in the heart of the Scottish Highlands.


And so to our second beer of the trip - ORGANIC GOLDENEYE® PALE ALE 5.6% abv

Goldeneye is a golden beer packed with floral hops. This beer is made from 4 pure organic ingredients, malted barley, water, hops and yeast. It is full of vitamin B and good for you.


Sleep needed before continuing our journey .................. but to where??

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Thanks for the comments everyone :001_th_smiles89:

mmmmmmmmmmm.......beeeeeeeeeer! wootmesalia.gif...are you coming by OXfordshire soon Sabre, i'd love to join you for a pint (or 3...4...5...6)!

I'll make sure to call in when I do my next Real Ale Tour. This one is restricted to Scotland :icon_thumbup: :icon_thumbup:

Sounds like a great trip. You are waiting a sufficient amount of time after each ale before you hop behind that yoke again , right? :rolleyes:

Oh absolutely, I wouldn't dream of drinking and flying :D:D:D Have to say though this Virtual Real Ale Doesn't seem to have the same effect. I'm sure I would pass a breathalyser test :pilotic:

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Hey Graeme, Superb idea you've got there. From EGPE I am 15nm southwest so call in with some of your purchases. I would love to imbibe a few bottles with you.

Where to next?

Don't forget about Cairngorm Brewery or the Isle of Skye Brewery who do some excellent bottled beers.

Looking forward to your next leg.


Brian :001_th_smiles89:

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The Journey Continues

Well after the delights of the “Goldeneye” from the Black Isle Brewery, it was time to rest up back in Inverness to be well prepared for the onward journey. However a chance meeting with none other than Mutley Crew member Brian aka Needles was to scupper the well laid plans. Needles in town on an errand of mercy to save his beloved Saitek Yoke had taken solace from the ill fated trip in a local ale house. The chance meeting led to many a discussion on the finer points of life and flight simulation, which was greatly aided by the consumption of more than a drop or two of ale, ably supported by a “wee dram”. At a very late hour proceedings were drawn to a close and fond farewells were exchanged.

A restless night ensued followed by a late rise and a very bad head. A light breakfast and lots of coffee failed to help the situation much and the onward journey was delayed until late morning. This was far from ideal given the next leg was over 200 nm. It was however going to prove an omen for the journey, indeed an omen which maybe should have been heeded.

The journey was to take us further north in search of more ale although prior to departing Inverness the quest for ale seemed somewhat secondary to the desire to be rid of the thumping headache. But self pity is no use to anyone and a short taxi ride sees us back at Inverness Airport. The day promises even more spectacular views though the journey is becoming more remote by the day.

Third Leg


Not so bright and not so early the "Caravan" somewhat lumbers out of a rather deserted Inverness. It seems that maybe more than the Mutley's had taken a beverage or two onboard.


Onward north as we leave the maniland and the Orkney's beckon


Even with the lingering headache the absolutely stunning beauty of these remote islands is very apparent


The shear beauty seems never ending


But alas all good things must end and we depart these lovely isles in search of even more remote destinations


The Shetlands more remote and certainly more windy - the caravan rocks!


Signs of life but not much of it


The remote beauty seems to lure you into its emptiness like a spell


Over Scatsta - in real life the most northerly airport in the UK - in FSX world there's one more and it is to be our destination for this leg of the trip.


This picture can't even begin to show how windy it was on approach to Unst Airport. The cross winds were to prove a strain for this novice pilot and this was the first of three attempts to put the "Caravan" on the ground.

Indeed it seemed as if the gods were at play and it was pay back time for the previous nights indulgences.


It turned out to be third time lucky, just, with the aircraft attempting to land at what seemed 45 degrees, a last minute gust and a poor response by the pilot saw the wheels running off to the left edge of the runway.

A minor correction (blind panic) saw the "Caravan" onto the tarmac and safely on the ground at this almost desolate place.


Unst is the most northerly populated island in the British Isles and is unique in terms of its scenic beauty and mystical charm. It is one of the most spectacular, varied and interesting islands in Europe with ultramarine sea, beautiful sunbleached beaches of pure sand, majestic cliffs and hills, outstanding flora and fauna and national nature reserves of international significance. Sited on a 12 by 5 mile area and with a population of approx. 700, the land remains unspoilt and visitors are always welcome though Unst Airport is bleak and remote and certainly has no waiting taxis.


Looks like we're walking - I'm sure it'll be worth it.


And so after a short walk with the bracing wind clearing the head we arrive at our next destination and by definition the most northerly part of our trip.

The Valhalla Brewery is therefore the most northerly brewery in the United Kingdom and they produce 6 fine ales; ideal for real ale drinkers and enthusiasts.


And finally the third of our virtual beers to savour - Auld Rock - ENJOY!!


Hope you have enjoyed the third leg, the next leg will definitely be south, provided the wind drops and I can get te "Caravan" off the ground, it's certainly a long walk home if I can't :icon_thumbup:

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The Journey Continues

Well they say things come in threes and so it transpired on our visit to Unst and the Valhalla Brewery. Firstly, the ale turned out to be very palatable indeed and just for a change quite irresistible, thus leading to another late night which immediately placed the next leg of the journey in jeopardy. Secondly, on return to the “Caravan” it turned out that the previous day’s rough landing had caused some minor damage which would require repair. Last but not least the weather to put it mildly was bleak; the significant cross winds experienced during our arrival were now at gale force. Throw in heavy rain and what seemed like head height clouds and it all added up to a disaster waiting to happen. To quote a local phrase “why azz not gannan oot in that hinny”, roughly translated as “the weather is awful I’m staying indoors”. The fourth leg of the journey was duly postponed and it was decided to retire to the warmth and comfort of the local Bed and Breakfast for some much needed sleep.

The weather forecast for the next day was not good with more high winds and low cloud predicted mid morning. So fully refreshed by the early night it was decided to make an early start. There’s nothing quite like a Shetland dawn in the bracing wind to focus the mind and so after the short walk back to Unst Airport it was time to crank up the “Caravan”.

Given our most northerly location the fourth leg by default was to be south, retracing our steps over the remote areas of both Shetland and the Orkney’s. This was to be another 200+nm journey in search of more fine ale and I was sure the trip would be worth it and surely our next destination couldn’t be quite so remote!

Fourth Leg


Dawn departure with the sun trying to break through


They say never look back but sometimes it really is worth it - leaving Unst


Even in the dawn light the Isles look stunning


The sun continues its fight with the cloud as we look down on the Orkney Islands for the last time


The journey continues in a westerly direction across the northen part of mainland Scotland and on past Loch Eriboll


Our next destination looms large and we start our final to Stornaway Airport


Safely down and joy of joys we have company - not just people but aircraft too - yippee


A quick phone call and we're off to wait outside of Stornaway Airport for our lift to the brewery


The top folk at our next destination sent along their own quality transport for the short ride


And so into town for our next tasting session which would take place at the Hebridean Brewery


Finally the most difficult decision of the day or should we say morning? The dawn start has only suceeded in extending the available drinking time! What to drink? In the end the Celtic Black Ale was the beer of choice.

Celtic Black Ale

A dark porter style ale full of flavour, balancing an aromatic hop combined with a subtle bite and a pleasantly smooth caramel after taste. Bronze award in the Milds category of the Society of Independent Brewers beer of Scotland Competition 2004.


Hope you've enjoyed the latest leg of the journey. Weather and headache dependent we set off further south to continue the ale quest tomorrow :icon_thumbup:

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  • 2 weeks later...

The Journey Continues

Once again the weather gods were having a field day at a not so sunny Stornaway. The combination of the very low cloud, the very heavy rain and the very strong after effects of the Celtic Black Ale produced and very dark grey day in the Western Isles. After lots of thumb twiddling the weather eventually eased enough to allow the next leg of the journey to start. The fifth leg of the Ale Quest would see us set off in a south westerly direction to take in the full beauty of the Western Isles (weather dependent). Much in the same way as the Shetlands and Orkneys earlier in the tour these Isles are some of the most beautiful places in the United Kingdom. There are many Isles in this area of Scotland; initially leaving the Isle of Lewis behind our route would take us over both North and South Uist then Barra before moving south easterly to overfly the Isles of Tiree, Coll, Iona and Colonsay before reaching our destination and the next supply of ale.

Fifth Leg


Preparing to depart EGPO Stornaway for the journey south - yes it's still raining and it feels like 100 little drummer boys are in my head


A last look down at Stornaway before we depart the Isle of Lewis


Into the grey murky day


The skys start to clear and even the beach starts to look enticing - modern technology in the foreground with the ancient hills of Heda and Ben Corodale behind


The arrival over Barra coincided with a realisation that the AA (Accumulated Alcohol) factor had come into play. Unfortuntaely the bowels aren't what they used

to be and an emergency "comfort break" was in order on the beach at Barra.


Even some of the locals came out to view the brightly coloured "Caravan" on the beach


Onward in a south easterly direction allows us to take in many Isles - below the Isle of Coll


Our next destination peeps through the ever changing weather.


The fifth leg concludes as we arrive at Islay Airport EGPI


Time to park up the "Caravan" for the night find a taxi and seek out our next brewery. A 30 minute journey sees us arrive at our next Ale provider Islay Ales This is the only brewery on the beautiful Isle of Islay,

off the West Coast of Scotland and they produce hand crafted, high quality cask and bottle conditioned beers (also known as real ale).


Once again spoilt for choice, the brewery have seven ales to sample, but tough choices and sacrifices have to be made, plus what we can't drink we can put

in the back of the "Caravan". After much consideration it is the Dun Hogs Head Ale that wins the day. Dun Hogs Head Ale (4.4% ABV) is a dark, dry stout brewed

using pale, crystal, chocolate and wheat malts together with un-malted roasted barley. Golding and Bramling Cross hops are used for the bittering, giving a

fruity edge to the dry bitterness that comes from using highly roasted malts. Late additions of Bramling Cross hops to the boil add another dimension to the aroma of the beer.


And so we settle down for another long night of ale sampling ready to contemplate the onward journey, but that's for tomorrow, time to savour and enjoy.

Hope you have enjoyed the latest leg of the tour :icon_thumbup:

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Sod this real ale rubbish... I'm off to do a propper tour... Single malt whiskey! :D

Whilst your on Islay, be sure to visit the Bruichladdich, Laphroaig, Lagavulin, Caol Ila, Ardbeg, and Bunnahabhain distilleries...

*Pours a glass of 16yr old Lagavulin* :wub::cloudnine:

Heh, great sequence of shots, I'm enjoying this :thumbsup:

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  • 2 weeks later...

Loving the trip and story Graeme..

Great shots and some stunning scenery.. not to mention a ton of new ales I need to try and find a way to sample :icon_thumbup:

If the ales of Islay are anything like their single malts I'm sure I'd love them....

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Sod this real ale rubbish... I'm off to do a propper tour... Single malt whiskey! :D

I'm sorry Mark, but from a guy living the dream in the Highlands, I feel it my kilt wearing duty to berate you over your Anglicised spelling of Whisky. No E in Whisky mate!.

Not in 'Scot's Whisky' that is.

There, I can chill out again. Enjoy your Dram mate :001_th_smiles89:

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