Published: March 11th 2011March 14th 2009
A colourful rainbow compliments the Scottish scenery
Studying Japanese at the International centre in Nagoya, Japan, back in the late 1990's, I became acquainted with a friend who went on to relocate, first to the USA, and then later in life, to Edinburgh, where the option of meeting up after a long absence became far more realistic and achievable. An overnight stay in Edinburgh perhaps accounted for the first leg of the trip, and we made a point of making an early start the following morning for a journey northwards, which would eventually culminate in reaching the very apex of the UK, namely John O'Groats. Stopping off to refuel in the once-thriving ski resort town of Aviemore was a good way to take a short break, and we were yet again on the road, and taking in the sublime nature of the Scottish scenery en route. A lunch stop in the northern Scottish town of Wick provided a good way to break up the journey, and we were eventually at John O'Groats, which was significant, due to the fact that the previous month had seen me visit Land's End in Cornwall, and these two nodes are inextricably linked as the official markers for the furthest flung points on
First and last house at John O'Groats
the UK mainland. Driving onwards, passing the coastal town of Thurso, famed for its surfing beach (images of Newquay came to mind), the journey brought us as far west as the small town of Tongue, before dipping back down again, and heading southwards towards Inverness, which was to be our overnight stop-off point. Hours of being focused on the road at the wheel of the car were basically soothed by a bathing session at the hotel, and after an evening meal at a commendable Chinese buffet restaurant, lack of nervous energy forced me to turn in for the night, and face the following day ahead with a brighter approach. Leaving the pretty town of Inverness, the journey took us along the shores of Loch Ness, with a stop-off at Urquhart castle, and then on to the pleasant town of Fort William, where picking up one or two shopping items and generally strolling down the town's main street were pretty much the run of events. The route back to Edinburgh made me realize that, end to end, it was a drive which would surely clock in as one of the world's top 5 scenic drives, and as the entire itinerary was
City view of Inverness and river, as seen from the castle
put together in a couple of fleeting minutes, also goes to show how spontaneity can account for a fair portion of memorable and valid travel experiences.
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