I wanted to write a few words about the above pub, and its landlord Joe Brandie. It may seem strange to pay such a tribute when you discover that I only went once, but that visit was special and affecting. I heard last month that Joe Brandie had sadly passes away at the age of 88 and that the future of the pub is unknown. Lets hope that someone can be found to purchase and run it for many more years.
I visited the pub about five or six years ago with Wee Fatha on a trip up to Aberdeenshire. We had visited the nearby Arbelour distillery and were heading, I think, for the West coast and Seil Island from Fortrose. At least some of the above statements are true....
We stopped first at the Highlander Inn which has an astoundingly large range of whiskies and two or three real ales, which we both enjoyed. I don't remember if the Fiddichside had a car park, but I do remember walking over the bridge and along the side of the road before walking down the steps to the tiny pub to find it open, and landlord Joe stood behind the bar.
Many references to Joe that I have read mention his enjoyment of welcoming visitors from all over the world, and that is one of the first things he said to me. He also didn't seem to mind being in my photos. Myself and WF got halves of Belhaven best and sat down at one end of the tiny, impeccably clean, basic bar room. Mr Brandie returned to his place, and stance, behind the bar. For five minutes we supped in silence before striking up a conversation about our route and destination. The silence, by the way, was easy and glorious.
The pub is on the National Inventory of Unspoilt Pub interiors and was likely unchanged inside for fifty or sixty years, maybe longer. The most amazing feature was just how small the boozer was. I recall the loos were near the entrance but can't remember there being a second room. The bar could probably hold about twenty people. There was a fantastic mirror on the wall facing the bar and a few small stools and tables and a bench that me and WF sat on, and that was it. Basic, unspoilt simplicity.
One thing that we didn't talk about was his wife Dorothy. Not that there was any reason why we should have done, having only just met. However whilst searching for info about the pub I learnt that she had been licensee for many years and had died in 2009 aged 89. The longevity of the couple is notable, but its quite sad to think that Joe would have run the pub by himself for seven or eight years.
I ended up buying some crisps and another drink, and found to my delight that he had started selling Cairngorm or Fyne Ales bottled beers, am fairly sure I had a bottle of Trade Winds to finish my visit.
The pub is in a fantastic rural location, sat in an idyllic spot just past the bridge next to the Fiddich outside the main part of Craigellachie. This factor may raise the price of the building and deter potential buyers from keeping it going as a pub. As yet there are no details of its future. I do hope it reopens, and remains as it appears to have done for so many years, unaltered.