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Published: February 3rd 2011
Well, we both had jobs and a place to stay so it was time to do some sightseeing. Seeing as it was Dan's birthday weekend we decided to head somewhere special; down to Fort William and to visit the Cameron Clan museum that was close to there.
We hired a car to get down there since it would have been tricky to get around the area by bus. We had some trouble getting our car since we accidentally booked it for October. After going to the hotel where we were supposed to do the pick-up and no one being there, we called and had to go to the airport. It took us a bus ride to get out there, but from there on it was pretty easy. We waited in line, and the staff were very understanding of our predicament; and fortunately they had a car available. Dan did the driving and we made it safely to Fort William before dark. Now the trouble came with finding accommodation. Fort William is hard to drive though. Well let me rephrase that. It's not hard to drive through if you're not stopping; however, if you actually want to get somewhere in the
town itself then you get stuck on a never-ending circle of one-way roads only to be taken to either the central parking lot or the edge of town. Admitting defeat and being mildly frustrated, we decided it would be best to park the car and walk around trying to find a bed for the night. After being turned away from one or two B & B's (we couldn't figure out why Fort William was so busy at the end of September), we finally found a place to crash. We realized afterward that it was on Cameron Road so we of course had to get pictures. And pictures from Cameron Lane and Cameron Square on our way to dinner at the Grog and Gruel. Dan really wanted to try haggis but we weren't sure where to go and it looked like restaurants would be closing up soon. At dinner we met a gentleman who had relatives in Canada and regailed us with stories about his job as a genealogy consultant. Apparently, a lot of Canadians come to him to trace their ancestry. It sounded really neat. After our lovely pub dinner, we went back to the B & B and watched
the Hurt Locker; such a good movie but really intense.
The next day we woke up bright and early and began our drive. First stop: The Glen Coe Visitor Centre. Ashley had visited the centre 3 years ago and thought Dan would be interested. The centre outlines the massacre of the MacDonald clan and the natural history of the area. It's a big area for mountain climbing and various other outdoor adventures. They even had an interactive puzzle for Dan to play but unfortunately we couldn't figure out the answer at the end; Dan's got a feeling it could have been in Gaelic (Gah-lik is the scotish language, Gay-lik is the Irish). There was also a fun computer game to see if we could make it up a mountain. in extreme conditions; you'd pack certain items and use them when some thing happened (use the helmet when there's a rock fall, etc). We can do it on the computer; real life is another story. We also enjoyed the scenery from the centre; beautiful mountains and valleys that went on for miles. We really wanted to go for a walk but decided it would be a bad idea since we
The red phone booth
Dan just insisted on making a call.
didn't have any of the necessary equipment, like hiking boots or food. Of course this was just after we watched a show called "I Shouldn't be Alive" where 2 Americans wandered off a mountain trail and ended up lost for days with nothing. Anyways, after the centre we went into Glencoe Village for a bite. We stopped at a small cafe for lunch and then walked to the MacDonald Memorial which was set up in town to commemorate the massacre, which took place after the Jacobite uprising in 1689. The MacDonald's got the run around on the last day before the oath needed to be made to the magistrate. That and a lowlander Secretary of State over Scotland didn't like highlanders and ordered the massacre anyways; to make an example of them.
The highlight of the day for Dan was the Cameron Clan Museum. It is way out of the way in Achnacarry. There were several times we weren't certain that we were still on the proper road to get there. The Museum itself is an old renovated cottage, and thus very small. It had a small gift shop, a records room, and a three roomed exhibit. It didn't
only show things about the Cameron Clan, but explained how history affected them Camerons. There was the War of the '45, where Bonnie Prince Charlie came back to Scotland to reclaim the Scottish crown, and the Camerons were among some of the first to join him. There were rumors that he spent some time in the Achnacarry area, sheltered in a cave. Also, while we were there some older men were on a tour following the trail of the '45 uprising with the historian who literally wrote the book on it. He took us down to the river to show us where the Camerons of Lochiel of the time were planting trees. The ditch had been dug, and the trees gathered, but when the Camerons answered Prince Charlie's call the planting work stopped. Apparently the trees put to root and have grown there, unorganized; a current day reminder of how everything changed. Unfortunately for us the Camerons were not in the 'castle' so we couldn't get a tour. Not only was the museum an experience but the road driving to and from the museum was also an experience. It was one of the smallest windiest roads we'd been on to
date. We also decided to visit the Ben Nevis Visitor Centre at the base of the mountain. We walked around the valley admiring the view and also talked to the people in the centre. They advised us that Ben Nevis is so dangerous to hike because the weather can change so drastically and the temperature is 10 degrees lower at the top of the mountain. Hopefully we'll get to hike it later but we best wait for summer when the weather is better.
That night Dan really wanted to try haggis so we scoured the restaurant menus looking for haggis. We finally found it at a the Ben Nevis Bar and Restaurant. Dan enjoyed his typical haggis, neeps and tatties but decided it didn't seem really authentic. He'd really like to meet a traditional Scottish grandma who could make it from scratch for a real experience. We'll see how that works out.
The next day we headed back to Inverness because Ashley had a cleaning shift to get to at 11am. But we didn't leave before buying some hiking boots and a book on walks in Scotland. Our first road trip in Scotland was lovely especially since we
...with cows instead of sheep.
enjoyed blue sky and sun the whole time, which was unexpected.
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