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Published: April 9th 2015
Loch Ness and Urquhart Castle on its shore.
After a run to the mouth of the river, with a fantastic view of the Beauly Firth, and breakfast, we set off to see Loch Ness. We stopped off for some views of the loch and then we headed to Urquhart Castle. It was a nightmare trying to find somewhere to park (despite the massive coach park that was completely empty). Before entering the castle, there is a video about the history of the castle. The early history is a story about fighting off those bloody English, which bought back memories of the history tour in Boston. Once the English had backed-off however it was a story of infighting between the various Scottish clans. This concluded with the guard tower of the castle being loaded with gunpowder and blown-up, and the castle being abandoned to fall into ruin.
We had been asked to stay in our seats after the video until the doors were opened for health and safety reasons. That wasn't quite true. Once the video was over the curtains opened revealing a stunning, panoramic view of the castle and the loch. It was a brilliant touch - although I've probably ruined it for your now if you are
A wall and inside of Urquhart Castle.
planning to visit Urquhart Castle sometime.
We then went for a wander around the ruins of the castle.
There is a village nearby called Dumnadrochit. This is the centre of the industry that seems to have built-up around the famous Loch Ness Monster. We gave the Nessie Centre, the Nessie Exhibition and all the associated shops a miss and headed down to Port Augustus at the southern tip of the loch. We declined the opportunity to buy some Nessie droppings chocolate from the shops and went for a walk along this section of the Caledonian Canal. There were a series of locks where the canal joins Loch Ness, which were swarming with people, but once we had walked a little bit further along the canal, it was very quiet and peaceful. In contrast to most canals, including the Grand Union near where we live, the water was clear and clean.
We had intended to head back to Inverness, but since we were quite close, we thought we head a bit further south to see Ben Nevis, which, for anyone who doesn't know, is the highest mountain in the UK. There were some great view of Ben Nevis
Snow high up in the Nevis Range.
and the Nevis Range from the site of the Commando Memorial, which is on the route from Fort Augustus to Fort William.
Fort William is the main base for climbing Ben Nevis and that seemed to be about it. It resembled the more industrial parts of Inverness, so we turned around and headed for the Nevis Range Gondola. This is mainly for skiers, but we could use it to go higher into the range, although not up Ben Nevis itself. There was still a lot of snow up there and people were still able to ski, although it is April and the snow was starting to get very patchy. The gondola took us to a point that was very much on the edge of the snow line.
We arrived about 20 minutes before the gondola closed and we were advised that we would only have about five minutes up there before we would need to come back down again. Since we were there, we thought we would go up anyway. We were the last ones to go up and (a part from some ski instructors ) we were the last ones back down again.
We got back
View of the Nevis Range, with Ben Nevis from near the Commando Statue.
to Inverness and tried to find somewhere to eat. For some reason, it wasn't very easy as everywhere was either full or fully booked. We ended up having a Chinese, which was nice, but not what we were planning to eat whilst on holiday in Scotland.
So far we have been very lucky with the weather, although I don't want to speak too soon.
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