Scotland... a place of great natural beauty, hills, moutains, water... beautiful in its own unique way! We left York on the morning of 6 June and headed up north for Edinburgh. The weather had taken a turn for the worse, with the late morning temperature on the way dropping to 5°C - great summertime weather! We thoroughly enjoyed Scotland, particlurlary the rugged beauty of the north.
Edinburgh: 6 June 2001
Unfortunately the weather did not help in our appreciation of Edinburgh. Not only was the temperature cold, but it was also windy, with interimittent rain showers. To compound matters, Edinburgh is not the easiest place to navigate as a tourist - at best, the signposting may be described as confusing! We had fortunately been warned about the perils of parking in the city, where there are numerous "restricted" parking zones that are poorly marked. Sure enough, when we did eventually find a parking, it was "restricted" - as a helpful police officer pointed out once we had paid the parking fee! We eventually gave up the idea of parking, dropped the car at the B&B and caught a bus back into town.
After a brisk walk up the hill, we did a tour around the Edinburgh castle. The castle has a long and fascinating history, and we felt that it was well worth the visit. The displays also give useful insight into the history of Scottish royalty, and the efforts to preserve "The Honours of Scotland" - i.e. the royal crown, sword and sceptre. These crown jewels are older than the English crown jewels that we had admired in London.
It is easy to see why the occupiers of the castle would have had such a strong military advantage, what with intelligent use of the natural features and formidable fortifications taking care of the rest. If that wasn't enough, then the medieval seige gun "Mons Meg" would surely have scared the daylights out of any would be opponent!
It was sad to see the extent to which Edinburgh's historic buildings have been blackened by polution - a reminder of the long term consequences of the industrial revolution.
After taking in the castle we strolled down the "Royal Mile" down to Holyrood Palace, where Queen Elizabeth stays when in town, for a quick peek through the gates.
Oh well.... maybe one day we will be fortunate enough to revisit Edinburgh, and may see it in a whole new light! By now, however, we were looking forward to a more natural experiance in the north!
Inverness: 7 June 2001
The drive from Edinburgh to Inverness was spectacular, featuring a dramatic change in scenery from green hills to the bleak, heather covered moutains of the North. For anybody who grew up in Westville, the towns along the way would have sounded familiar... Perth, Dunkeld, Blairgowrie, Pitlochry, Blair Atholl - all being local street names!
After a bite to eat in Inverness, we located our bed and breakfast and then headed out for a scenic drive around Loch Ness.
After driving through the small town of Inverfarigaig, we walked along a forest trail. As we climbed the hillside, we were treated to spectacular views of Loch Ness. Alas, no sightings of the monster though!
On the way back to Inverness, we stopped along the shores of a small loch and enjoyed a glass of red wine. As we were parked by the side of the road, a flock of sheep came wandering along. Verna had as all in fits of laughter by carring on a conversation with one of the ewes.
Our bed and breakfast that night was a treat - Merlewood House. In choosing our accomodation, we had allowed two nights for some more luxurious accomodation, and Merlewood House was one of our choices. Fortunately accomodation was available, and we were made to feel very welcome and comfortable. We decided to treat ourselves to dinner at an upmarket dinner in the town of Inverness that evening as well - enjoying great atmosphere, good presentation of food, excellent service, and upmarket prices!
Inverness to Dalmally: 8 June 2001
Linda's Birthday! After a superb breakfast at our B&B, we set out on a scenic journey that would take us down to the small town of Dalmally, located north of Glasgow. Our route started travelling along the shores of Loch Ness, where we visited an exhibition on the Loch Ness Monster. The exhibition featured impressive multimedia presentations, that explored the story of the monster from various perspectives, including a scientific analysis. It was most informative - not only in terms of the various hoaxes that have been staged, but also in terms of the life of the Loch - well worth a visit!
We then headed up north on a detour that would take us along narrow, mountainous roads. The scenery was truly spectacular, from snow capped peaks, to lochs, and heather covered hills.
Along the way we passed Ben Nevis, although unfortunately the low clouds did not offer a view of the summit. As we headed south again, the scenery became less mountainous and more populated, and we passed several ruined castles along the way. The hills continued to have a dusting of snow - despite some of them being almost at sea level!
After a long days driving, we arrived at Dalmally. We located a local pub and restuarant, where we toasted Linda's birthday with some whisky! - and had a good meal.
Well our time in Scotland had almost drawn to an end. Scotland would not have been complete, however, without a visit to a whisky distillery. We located a distillery just north of Glasgow - the Glengoyne distillary. We arrived just in time for a guided tour, and were fascinated by the overview of the distilling process, and the stories surrounding the history of distilling in Scotland. For those in the know, Glengoyne produces single malt scotch whisky, and is the only distiller north of Glasgow to produce unpeated whisky. Having sampled the whisky at the end of the tour, we decided to buy a bottle to evaluate further at our leisure!