I will never forget the excitement that my husband Johnny and I felt the first time we drove from the Inverness Airport through Dufftown, and up the trail past the farm towards the cottages of Bluefolds. I hopped out of the car, opened the gate, and inhaled the crisp fresh air while taking in the beautiful landscape that surrounded us. It was in that moment I first felt enchanted by the magic of Scotland.
Our first trip to Bluefolds was in celebration of our nuptials. Johnny and I were married in the summer of 2014, and we delayed our honeymoon for a year so we could plan out our holiday to Moray, Scotland. Johnny found the Bluefolds Cottages via an internet search, and immediately we fell in love with the accommodations and picturesque views that it offered. Little did we know that when he booked our stay we would be finding our home away from home that we will return to for years to follow.
We arrived at Bluefolds in May of 2015, and were greeted by former cottages owner Steve Oliver, who immediately made us feel welcomed. He provided recommendations on places to visit, and broadened our palates with a whisky nosing and tasting while sharing his love and passion for the water of life. Being avid runners and former collegiate athletes, Johnny and I centered much of our days around hiking the trails, and visiting local football stadiums such as Ross County F.C., Aberdeen F.C., and Inverness Caledonian Thistle F.C. Our honeymoon was highlighted with trips to Lossiemouth, the Cairngorms National Park, Drumin Castle, GlenFinnan, hiking to the top of Ben Rinnes, touring Benromach Distillery, spending the day in Thurso, dining at the Croft Inn, getting our morning coffee at Glassworks, and (by luck) running into the Happy Haddock Truck in Tomintoul.
Just as all vacations do, our trip went by too fast, and after returning back to California, Johnny and I knew our lives had been forever changed. We had friends and family over to share our newfound passion for whisky (and donuts), and showed pictures of our travels. It was also at this time that Johnny developed that idea of pairing whisky and donuts- which kick started a new venture for our family (but that story is for another time and separate blog entry.) Reminiscing over our trip, Johnny and I knew we had to return to Bluefolds as soon as our schedules allowed. We had found our place of solace, and a tiny slice of heaven that held a special place in our hearts.
We immediately began planning our return, scheduled our flights, and booked our stay at Bluefolds. We touched down in Scotland in May of 2016, and while our first trip consisted mostly of chilled winds, and sporadic rains, this time we were welcomed with powdery white snow that covered the golden fields of barley. We refused to let the snow stop us from conquering our hike to the top of Ben Rinnes, or exploring the Fyrish Monument, and Auchindoun Castle. This trip also included hosting our first surprise impromptu Whisky and Donut pairing at Tomintoul Distillery. We also visited BenRiach Distillery, GlenDronach Distillery, and ended our trip with an enjoyable night of live music, dancing, and fun at the Dufftown Ceilidh.
After taking a year off from our travels, we returned to the cottages in May of 2018. During this time Bluefolds had been acquired by new owners, Chris and Sue Kirby, who upon meeting, we instantly connected and bonded with over our love for Bluefolds, football, photography, yoga and a variety of other passions that were one and the same.
This trip to the cottages was jam-packed with adventures, and absolutely beautiful “California-like” weather. This trip also started differently than the others, as Johnny was scheduled to host an official Whisky and Donut pairing event for the Spirit of Speyside Whisky Festival. He partnered with Freddie from Edinburgh’s Deadly Donuts and also with Steve Oliver, and the three introduced six drams and six donuts that coupled together for an exciting union of flavors. Afterwards, we commemorated the night’s success at The Croft with a delicious meal and celebratory drinks.
The rest of our trip was highlighted with sight-seeing at Dunnottar Castle, Gardenstown, Corgaff, Fraserburgh-Pennan, and dinner in Macduff. We also snagged seats on Steve Oliver’s infamous Distillery bus tour with a special stop at Knockdhu Distillery, along with taking a day to visit Glencadam Distillery, and spending a fun filled day with Chris at Fort George. Each trip was even more amazing than the previous, and with each new memory made, and each new friendship forged, Johnny and I knew that Scotland had become a part of us.
The Month of May in 2019 lent us with another opportunity to not only host a Whisky and Donut event for the Speyside Whisky Festival, but also allowed us to return to our family at Bluefolds. Immediately after arriving in Scotland we hopped into our rental car, and drove to Glassworks to grab a cappuccino (with whipped cream of course). We took a slight detour to explore the Isle of Skye for a couple of days, and after visiting the Fairy Pools, Talisker Distillery, The Oyster Shed, Staffin, experiencing the beauty of Neist Point, and the history of Eilean Donan Castle, we returned to Bluefolds Cottages to prepare for our pairing event. This year Whisky & Donuts partnered with Nicole from Inverness’ Perk Coffee and Doughnuts and was joined by Matt from the Malt Room Inverness to host another successful W&D event. Following tradition, we all celebrated the evenings success at The Croft, and the next day Johnny, Matt, Nicole and myself joined Steve Oliver for his distillery tours yet again. The remainder of our days were filled with travels and hikes with Chris and Sue, with stops at the Aberlour Waterfall, Portsoy, Buckie, Rogie Falls, Perk Doughnuts, the Malt Room, and also included donut deliveries and tours at the GlenAllachie and Balvenie Distilleries.
Most recently, we had planned a return trip to Scotland for May of 2020, but, as with everything in the world, our plans were sadly cancelled due to COVID-19.
With each trip and each stay at the cottages, our hearts have grown fonder of Scotland, and we’ve become more encapsulated with Scotland’s history, beauty, magic, and absolutely incredible people. Each trip starts with inhaling the fresh crisp air and feeling like we had never left, and ends with discussing our next return. Our travels have each been unique, educational, fun-filled and memorable, and because of the kindness of Steve and his wife Elizabeth, the generosity and friendship fostered with Chris and Sue plus everyone else we have come to know through our stay at Bluefolds, our lives have been forever changed and hearts are forever connected from all the way across the pond.