23rd Sep 2011 - Scotland
Day trip to Loch Ness, The Great Glen and the Cairngorms
Up early to go a much anticipated day trip to Glencoe, the Highlands, the Cairngorms and of course Loch Ness. We did it this way so that Dorothy would see something of Scotland other than Edinburgh and until i looked on a map i had no idea how much of Scotland we would get to see by going to Loch Ness. This was a full day trip departing Edinburgh, booked with Viator.com, run by Rabbies Travel and was excellent.
Left at 0815 from the City Centre in a 16 seater minivan - comfortable. Two seats on one side, singles on the other. Our leader for the day - Shelby was fantastic - funny, obviously loved her job and easy going but kept firm control. Mixture of nationalities.
Made our way to Callander - north of Stirling where we had a 20 min stop for bathrooms as well as an amazing bakery. Pretty wee town/village and worth a stop and look around. Then onto driving further and further north. Shelby interspersing interesting tales in history with a mixture of enjoyable Scottish music - some sounding similar to the Irish I guess because of the Celtic origins. The more north we went the more I loved it - proper mountains and reminded me so much of home - little bit teary eyed at times missing everyone so much - Glencoe in the highlands was so beautiful - a rainy misty day all day with the raincoat on most of the time - autumn colours just starting to turn - another 2 weeks it will be magnificent. The lone piper in the middle of nowhere (actually at the Three Sisters) with magnificent views was a great hit - I'm sure he makes a bit of money every morning - and of course with the mist and the sound of bagpipes and a Scots man in a kilt - wonderful. This was the place in history where in 1692 the Macdonalds were murdered by the Campbells in the Glencoe massacre - those who escaped died in a great blizzard. Some amazing walking and cycling tracks through this part of the country and would love to come back and spend some time here as well as doing the West Highland railway. The rail trip between Fort William and Mallaig has this year been nominated the best rail journey in the world.
Down to Glencoe village for a brief stop and then back heading north. The lochs were stunning and the stillness plus the mistiness made them so beautiful. Passed through Port William, stopped at the Commando Monument - the SAS do their training in these parts of the Highlands.
Arrived in Fort Augustus / Loch Ness just before 1400 - £10-12 to do a one hour boat trip on the loch - a quick buying of a sandwich to eat on board and then we set off hoping to catch a glimpse of the elusive Nessie. Inside the cabin they have sonar all set up and were given an interesting explanation of how it works and all the major sightings etc. Actually I possibly now believe - well I believe that there are some big creatures down there but that they are not monsters just enormous fish. It would go without saying there must be a few of them to procreate. Evidently St Columba sighted Nessie in the 6th century but the biggest sighting was in 1934 - the picture with a dinosaur like creature's head rising out of the lake. Some of the biggest sightings came from people who didn't initially tell as they were scared of being ridiculed - one being a priest - if you cant believe a priest who can you believe haha. Make sure you look at my photos and see if you can see Nessie. Was also lovely just being out on the water - I love it so with the wind in my hair. back to shore and only 10mins before we were due back to the van. A frantic search for sensible tshirts for Dorothy's father - no luck. The 19th century Caledonian canal was also gorgeous - 5 locks that need to be negotiated in the middle of Fort Augustus to get from the canal to the loch - very very pretty.
Went south via Fort William again to Spean Bridge - short stop here - very good touristy shop here and actually worth a stop. From here we went west and then south via the Cairngorms National Park - quite different to the Highlands - more country and farming rather than mountains and mystery. Finally saw some hairy coos (cows) which caused much excitement the rest of the trip when we talked about coos. I was feeling slightly sick at this stage - started by the moisturizer I had put on my hands at Spean Bridge - so to delay what could have been the inevitable I closed my eyes for a while and did actually feel better - still woke for photo opportunities though.
Stopped at the delightful village of Pitlochry - would like to come back here and then back to Edinburgh. A wonderful day - many many miles but good to have someone else drive but also good for me to see the roads I would be driving on for the rest of the week. very similar to NZ ones so wont be a problem.
Back to the apartment for dinner - stir fried chicken and veges and potatoes and in bed by 2200.
|998 Words | This page has been read 3350 times||View Printable Version|