Blogs from Inverness-shire, Scotland, United Kingdom, Europe


Europe » United Kingdom » Scotland » Inverness-shire August 31st 2015

I have mentioned The Highland Club in a previous post, but I think it deserves its own review. I have a slight soft spot for places which are slightly less than perfect; a mix or even clash between picturesque and problematic, places which juxtapose surface perfection with underlying issues. To be fair, however, the pros of this hotel far outweigh the cons. The Highland Club sits in its own 20 acres of greenery, including views over Loch Ness, tennis courts, a giant chess set, and The Boathouse restaurant. The building itself is a slightly odd marriage between a beautiful old monastery, and modern concrete add-ons. Each apartment is privately owned, and therefore individual. Our apartment was a spacious top-floor (LOTS of stairs) abode, with a cosy Scottish feel and luxurious finish. The view from the huge ... read more
Sleeping in style
Sticky Toffee Pud

Europe » United Kingdom » Scotland » Inverness-shire August 11th 2015

I was very excited when I heard on the news that the UK was having a heatwave just days before I was due to visit. The last time I was home was January, so I was looking forward to seeing greenery and flowers and sunshine. I enjoyed the glorious heat and light and Vitamin D for a day, and then headed off to Scotland. Remember when I told you all about how Africa is hot? Well, some more breaking news just in: Scotland’s kinda cold. I optimistically packed t-shirts and flip-flops, and regretted the decision immediately after crossing the border. The wind and rain is less brutal than usual, and the landscape which is wild, bleak and rugged in winter seems fresh, alive and colourful in summer - but it's still cold. The rain and mist ... read more
Loch Ness Silhouettes
Loch Ness Mist

Europe » United Kingdom » Scotland » Inverness-shire August 4th 2015

My baby sister is a medical student up in the wilds of Scotland, so I’m used to having to don Arctic clothing and trek the million miles by car, train, plane and bus to see her. When my parents informed me that she was going on placement in Inverness, I thought: Great, somewhere I’ve actually heard of and actually has a train station, this trip shouldn’t be so bad! What they conveniently left out was the fact that the placement was actually in Fort Augustus, an hour’s drive away from Inverness (which, by the way, takes two trains and 5 hours to get to from York anyway). I love my sister, but this journey took place a mere 48 hours after I had completed two plane journeys, a train, tube, and another train ride to get ... read more
Room with a View
Loch Ness Mirror
Loch Ness Clouds

Europe » United Kingdom » Scotland » Inverness-shire July 5th 2015

Happy 4th, my fellow Americans! I hope you all had a lovely holiday weekend and enjoyed the wonderful fireworks. I had an absolutely wonderful and amazing weekend, and I am dying to share it with you all. Forewarning: this blog will be a bit lengthy because there is a ton of stuff that I would like to tell you all, so if you don't feel like reading it all then too bad, because you've gotten this far and you are now committed to reading the entire thing! But I'm hoping you'll all enjoy hearing about my adventures as much as I enjoyed having them. On Friday morning, I left for a 3 day tour in the highlands with a group called Heartland Travel. A very nice man named Nory Hope and his wife started this tour ... read more

Europe » United Kingdom » Scotland » Inverness-shire » Onich June 29th 2015

Monday 29 June. The day started as it finished the night before with fine rain and low cloud hovering over the water of Loch Linnhe. Undeterred we had a plan and set off to drive the 8 miles to Fort William. Within one mile we were held up in a traffic jam due to work to clea dnmake safe a landslide. Once clear of that we drove to Neptune’s Platform just outside of Fort William. This is where the famous locks on the Caledonian Canal which link Loch Ness to Loch Linnhe and in effect enable a passage between the east seaboard of Scotland to the western. Built by Thomas Telford it is a quarter of a mile long structure made entirely of brick and concrete and consisting of 8 locks which drop in total 19 ... read more

llUnfortunately, we did not find the Loch Ness monster (aka Nessie) today, but we did have fun looking! We went on a Nessie hunter boat cruise on the Loch (our boat captain sounded a wee bit like Sean Connery!), and learned: 1. The water is black-ish appearing because of the soil around the loch. There is a lot of peat in the soil (maybe Nessie likes peaty whiskey?) 2. Loch Ness is about 50 feet higher than sea level, about mile wide, 23 miles long and DEEP - about 750 feet deep at the deepest point. To illustrate the depth, our boat captain kept moving the boat closer to shore and reading out the depth we approached the shore. Basically, there's a very minimal shoreline, and then a fairly steep drop very close to shore. 3. ... read more

Today we five returned to Edinburgh from a trip to the Scottish Highlands. Driving to the Highlands is like driving from the American Midwest to the West in terms of changing landscape. The major difference is that the Scottish Highlands have a lot more sheep and a few castles visible from the highway. Overall, the Highlands were cooler than Edinburgh; the temperatures were as low as 50 F during the day. The sun was reluctant to show itself and drizzling rain plagued us a few times. However, the beauty and solitude of the Highlands outweighed the chilly weather. We started the trip in Inverness, just a few miles north of scenic Loch Ness. Unfortunately, the Loch Ness Monster was nowhere to be seen. We toured Urquhart Castle on the shores of Loch Ness. This castle was ... read more
Portree, Isle of Skye
Iain - Pub Patron and Vending Machine Assaulter
Eilean Donan Castle

Today is going to be a day on the Isle of Skye, the Misty Isle. We left the hostel around 9am and headed first towards the Coire na Creiche (Fairy Pools for those that don't understand Gaelic), in Glen Brittle. After a good long trip on some more of those tiny one-lane, two-way roads, we reached the parking area for the Fairy Pools. Our driver was a little concerned about how busy it might be, but although the main parking area was pretty full, we were able to park along the side of the road. By the time we returned from our hike, the whole road was full and overflowing! We had to hike down and across a valley to reach the pools on the other side. It was a fairly long hike, but the cold ... read more
Fairy Pools and caves
Fairy Pools Upper Falls
Close up of Fairy Pools

Europe » United Kingdom » Scotland » Inverness-shire » Inverness May 25th 2015

Today we were awake, packed, and ready to go on our Highland Fling bus tour at least an hour early. The tour is offered by MacBackpackers and runs from Monday morning through Friday evening. In 2015, we paid about 200 Pounds each, and I would have said ahead of time that I think it will be worth it, but by the end of day one I can say it will be. Our granddaughter Alexis took the tour last year and after reading about it and seeing her photos, we decided we'd give it a try, even though we figured we'd be the oldest folks on the tour. The mid-sized bus pulled up in front of our hostel right on time. We'd read in the tour notes that we should only bring smaller luggage such as backpacks ... read more
The Scottish Deli
Shops at the Highland Folk Museum
Baile Gean village

Europe » United Kingdom » Scotland » Inverness-shire May 23rd 2015

23rdMay Laggan Locks to Banavie – 14nm Through Loch Lochy today and a couple of single locks – couple of bridges, getting easier now that we have done so many. Also going down now…so much easier that going up! Going to stay here a few days, got some tourist things to do and Abbie and Chris are coming back for an overnight stay. 24th: Abbie and Chris came up last night so today they drove us up to the Gondola and we went up a mountain as part of the Nevis Range. It was cold!! BUT we found snow!! WE got hailed on just for a little while, but it was all good fun. We did some shopping on the way home – using the advantage of having a car and people willing to drive us ... read more
Nevis Range
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