Another post from Aunt Jane and Ian’s journey to the UK.
Early Tuesday morning, we were met at our flat by Geoff, our kilted guide from Discreet Scotland, a company that arranges individual tours in Scotland, who was to be our escort for the day to the Highlands. Both Ian and I wanted very much to see the Highlands on our trip, but were unsure where to go or how to work it in to our itinerary. And, let’s face it, there was no way Aunt Jane was going to get behind the wheel on the wrong side of the road.
Instead, we were treated to a day with our own guide who drove us up into the Highlands, first to Inverness, which is where our ancestors on our mother’s side, the Grants, came from. And then on to Loch Ness, where we boarded a boat for a short cruise to Urquhart Castle.
Loch Ness is very beautiful. It is almost 25 miles long, and Geoff told us it has several rivers running into it, which creates an incredible undertow. It’s also very cold and deep, almost 750 feet at one point. We saw very few homes and no pleasure boats or or beaches on the lake, although it’s very peaceful and extremely scenic.
Right now, I’m sure you’re wondering, what about Nessie? Well, I’ll let Ian address all of that in his post, as he was on high alert Nessie watch the entire time.
As I was saying earlier, our cruise boat took us to Urquhart Castle on Loch Ness’s Western shore. We disembarked and walked around the castle ruins, which gave us more excellent views of the lake. It was breathtaking.
While Rico and I were cruising Loch Ness, Geoff was cruising along the shoreline to meet us at the Castle. So when we exited the vistiors center, we found our kilted friend waiting for us. We hopped back into the Range Rover and then sped down the twisty curvy roads and for the next six hours were treated to some incredible sights and views.
Geoff took us through several small towns and by many other “Lochs” (I forget all the names), but mostly we sped around the countryside on narrow lanes. The countryside reminded me somewhat of parts of the Adirondacks, as there were dense pine forests and rocky mountains and cliffs. Some of the mountains still had snow on the peaks.
Now, here’s the sad part: Ian and I realized that we were so busy looking at the scenery, we didn’t take a lot of pictures. We don’t even have a picture of the majestic Geoff in his kilt! It was a lot of time gaping out of the window at the breathtaking hills and mountains. It’s spectacular countryside, but there aren’t a lot of places to stop and take photos. The roads are very narrow, not unlike being on the Amalfi Coast highway.
The best I can say is you should go and see for yourself someday. Both Ian and I want to return and spend several days there.
We arrived back in Edinburgh after 6 p.m., so our day with Geoff was over 10 hours long. He was an excellent guide who showed us some incredible sights (which we took no pictures of). As I said, guess we’ll just have to go back!
Having spent the day in an SUV, as nice as it was, Rico and I needed to stretch our legs a bit, so we freshened up and took a little walk around the neighborhood before dinner, stopping for a quick cocktail at a nearby watering hole. It was sort of like the Italian tradition of la passeggiata, which is about taking a turn around the town square before going to dinner. It’s a time to see and be seen, usually capped off by an aperitivo at the local bar cafe.
We had dinner at a restaurant on Rose Street called Wildfire, a really cozy little restaurant in the New Town specializing in locally sourced steak and seafood. It was one of the best meals of our trip.
All in all, a truly wonderful day.
Rico’s Highland Highlights
Tuesday and our tour of the Highlands was such an awesome day. Of course it was beautiful out with the sun shining all day which made our trip into Northern Scotland really great. Geoff (Jeff?) was an excellent guide and provided great commentary throughout the entire trip.
After about two and a half hours of driving from Edinburgh, we finally made it to Loch Ness. It is such a beautiful lake with Urquhart Castle sitting right next to it. We took a really nice boat ride to the castle but I wasn’t focused on that; Nessie was about and I knew it. I think the only problem is that she knew I was on the hunt, so that’s my reason for not seeing her.
I heard there are tons of caverns in the lake and, like Jane said, it can be up to 750 feet deep so I’m sure she was just hiding. I was not the only one on the hunt for Nessie; there were a bunch of people with some huge cameras hoping to see her.. A bit much, we thought, but all I can think is, what if? Nonetheless, we left Loch Ness without seeing the great beast but it was still a great time.
The castle was really nice and one of the towers had a great view of the Loch at the top of it, which is where we got some great pictures. Geoff picked us up and we headed back to Edinburgh after we got to see some beautiful scenery of the Highlands (sorry again I didn’t really realize I should be taking photos), but anyone who travels near the UK needs to see them they are so cool. It was a really great trip and I ended it with a delicious steak (probably from the highlands!) Tomorrow: our trip to Glasgow- Stay Tuned!
A few more pictures are below.
And, for literary buffs, we had hoped to visit the birthplace of famous Highland poet, Ewan McTeagle, But, sadly, we ran out of time. Here’s a classic clip from the BBC on his work and life.