Wednesday, 2 April 2014

Loch Ness

After all this time spent in Scotland, it was about time I visited Loch Ness. This is day two of my weekend trip to Inverness and Loch Ness. See part one here.

We left the hostel by 9 am. 20 minutes later we stopped at the shores of Loch Ness.
Loch Ness is neither the largest, longest or deepest Loch in Scotland. But it is both big, long and deep, and thus it is the largest by volume. Loch Ness contains more water than all the lakes in England and Wales put together.
After a stop by the shores we drove on to tiny Drumnadroicht village where the Loch Ness Centre and Loch Ness gift shops are located. I also got my first glimpse of actual Nessie! 
In one of the gift shops there was a weird mirror-thing on the floor. Right beside all the plush toys. I bought a super cute Nessie plush.

The next stop on our journey was Urquhart Castle. This is one of the largest castles in Scotland. The ruins we see today are from between the 13th to the 16th century, but as most castles it is built upon earlier fortifications. One of the many information plaques dotted around the castle grounds had the sort of information I like, drawings of the evolution of Urquhart castle.

Today the castle looks like this:
Urquhart Castle sits on the shore of Loch Ness. The weather was pleasant and the view quite nice.
I also saw a duck couple waddling along one of the paths on the castle grounds. Look at these photogenic bastards.

We stopped in Fort Augustus for lunch. It is a village on the south west tip of Loch Ness, and it sports a series of water locks that help connect the Caledonian Canal between Inverness and Fort William on the West Cost.
Fort Augustus had a beautiful Nessie statue.
I  found myself a comfy place to eat, the Lock Inn, which had an actual fireplace. And books.

After Fort Augustus we had a short stop beside Speanbridge to se the Commando Memorial. This is a monument dedicated to the men of the original British Commando Forces, and it was raised during the Second World War. The monument is located here because the men used to train in the area.

The last stop of the day was our usual place in Glencoe. I always think I don't need to take more pictures of the same mountains, but the weather is always different so I end up taking pictures anyway.
The trip home from Glencoe was also very pretty, so I finish this post with some pictures taken out the bus window.

Traveling to Inverness

I have been busy with school work and haven't had time to write a post about the weekend trip to Inverness and Loch Ness I did some time ago with Isoc. First let me tell you about the Saturday's journey to Inverness.

Our first stop was Pitlochry. I came here in September 2013 with Taylor and we watched the Highland Games. It felt like ages ago, I felt kind of nostalgic coming back. This time I got to see sides of Pitlochry I didn't know existed, like the Power Staion, fish ladder and Blair Atholl Distillery.

The River Tummel
Pitlochry Power Station
On the left you see the fish ladder the salmon use to get up to the dam .
Blair Athol Distillery, founded in 1798.
Pitlochry has a lot of these cute metal structures standing around.
And they have a giant pine cone,
and ladybug benches 
The city centre.

The next stop was supposed to be Blair Castle, but because people weren't on time back to the bus in Pitlochry we missed it. There was a wedding going on, and we just missed passing through the gates before they closed it for the wedding.
The mystery castle gates (foggy because camera lens was clouded).
Blair Castle from a distance.

We drove on to Aviemore, a small town with a bit over 2000 inhabitants. It is located within Cairngorms National Park and is thus a popular base for skiing and hill-walking.
The town.
The prettiest bike stand I have ever seen.
A hotel.
A cute, little distillery.
I had lunch at this cute little place. It was me and a bunch of locals. It was fun observing them.

After lunch we drove to Inverness where we spent the night. Inverness is regarded as the capital of the Highlands, and it is the northernmost city in the UK. Over 60 000 live in and around Inverness. I quickly dumped my stuff at the hostel we were staying at and went out to explore Inverness.
There is a lot of things to see in Inverness. I walked up to Inverness Castle and had a look at the lovely view. And the Castle. Inverness Castle as it appears today was built in 1836 but there has been some sort of fortification on the hill since the 11th century. Today the castle houses the sheriff's court and is closed to the public, but you can still walk around outside on the castle grounds.
Inverness Cathedral, the Cathedral Church of Saint Andrews, built between 1866-1869.
I took a walk along Ness Walk, a road along the river Ness.
I crossed over to some islands in the middle of the river.
And I found Nessie! Or one of her cousins, perhaps.
It was a long walk and I was exhausted coming back to the hostel. Most people went out exploring the night life, but that is not for me so I stayed in my room, studying for the project that I had upcoming at the time. I went to bed early, charging my batteries for the day to come.

Part 2!