Scotland Part 4: Whoa Nessie!

Sorry about the delay, but here’s Day Four in Scotland. As always, I’ll put most of the pictures below the fold to save both of us on bandwidth.
Anyhow, if you’re not going to be golfing or distillerying (neither of which were in the cards on this trip, sadly) then the point of going to Scotland is Loch Ness. From this point on, we were amazingly lucky in the weather. Whereas in the first three days we had typical misty-rainy-at-any-given-moment-weather, from this point on the weather was gorgeous: mid 70s with bright sunshine. All you SUV drivers, I salute you!
Loch Ness is just a short drive southwest from Inverness, and the main road hugs the western shore. You drive through the village of Drumnadrochit, which I can only describe as South of the Border with buttered sandwiches and crisps. Its main attraction is the Loch Ness 2000 Exhibition Center (Centre, dammit!), which is a suitably cheesey ‘investigation’ into the myth of Nessie. But they do have a great gift shop and a huge selection of whiskies, which you can shop at without paying the money to see the exhibit.
About a mile farther on down the road you reach Urquhart Castle, which has the finest visitor center/centre you will ever visit. It has a great view of the Loch, a cafeteria, a decent gift shop, historical exhibit, yadda-yadda, but what sets it above the rest is the film they show. You go into a darkened room and the film begins, detailing the history of the Great Glen and Urquhart Castle. The film goes over the various forces that fought for and controlled the castle, and ends with the garrison in the 18th century deciding to blow up the castle as they leave so that it will not fall into Jacobite hands. Boom! The charges go off, and the castle is in ruins. And then the lights stay off but you notice that the screen is rising? What the? And the curtains behind it are opening? And then you see

the actual ruins. It is very well done and very cool.

After you get your breath back, you walk down the path and the first thing you encounter is a trebuchet from the NOVA show on siege engines. It’s very cool to see it sitting there!

We then walked into the castle, and of course the kids ran off and started climbing on everything, which was fine. My bride was very impressed with the state of it; when she was last there in 1979 there was no visitor ‘centre’ or marked walkways; now it has been restored and there are good pathways to walk upon. There are also great views of the Loch

Sharp-eyed readers will notice the RAF “Tornado” zooming up the Loch in the middle of the picture. I have to say it was pretty neat in the Highlands, as we saw/heard these jets flying over head pretty constantly over the next few days. It felt very comforting, I have to admit.
But the Loch and Castle were just beautiful:

I just don’t know where that not-as-brazen-as-I-had-hoped hussy Nessie was hiding while we were there. Sigh.
After Ness we picked up some sandwiches (made with butter…Blech!) and headed to Glen Affric, which is described as the most beautiful Glen in the Highlands. That’s a tall order to fill, but it may well have done it. It is stunningly beautiful in the Glen. The mountains rise up, covered with thick growths of trees, as the streams burble and tumble down their slopes.
But as we were driving there (and it’s only really a half hour or so from Loch Ness) I saw a sign for Corrimony Cairn, so we made a quick detour. A few minutes later, having only had to back up once because a bus was coming towards us on the single lane track, we arrived

This cairn was very cool, because, while the central roof had long since collapsed, the entry way was still covered

so you had to get on your hands and knees and crawl into it. Very cool, indeed.
What’s also neat is that they have a fence around the cairn, as it sits in the middle of a pasture. That’s it, really. You’ve got this 4000 year old ruin…and cows.

So, after being sufficiently diverted, we oddled off to Glen Affric, specifically Dog Falls, which seemed to be the easiest area to reach. And by ‘easy’ I mean that I only had to back up 200′ or so once. Remember, all these darn roads are only 1 car wide. It makes the driving…interesting. But the views are lovely

That’s where we had a picnic (oh, those butter sandwiches were tasty…not).
After we lunched we took one of the many hiking tails for a walk. The one we took was just a few miles and afforded some lovely views

What is really amazing are the ferns. They are everywhere. And they are gigantic. As in huge. I’m sixfoot, and they were always above my waist. I felt like a bit player in Land of the Lost or something. They were really neat to see everywhere.
After this busy day we drove back to Inverness and had dinner at La Tortilla Asesino, which was absolutely awful. Well, to be fair, the food, when we eventually got it, wasn’t that bad, but the service was horrible.
At least it was close to the hotel!
And that was the end of that day.

One Response to “Scotland Part 4: Whoa Nessie!”

  1. The_Real_JeffS says:

    Way cool travelogue, Mr. Bingley! Except for the butter sandwhiches, of course.

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