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Published: September 15th 2018
This morning was a little troublesome. We were packed and had brekky nicely timed, but then when we were leaving and went to pay our landlady, our cards were declined. ALL OF THEM! She only takes debit cards because of the charges with credit cards, but our debit cards wouldn’t be accepted. We gave her what cash we had and went up to wait for our bus. We were now 20 mins late after all the fluffing around with the cards. Luckily Natalie was also running late, but she was able to lend us £150 cash to give the landlady and we could be on the way. Apparently that had also just happened to the Canadians at their lodging. Natalie also then paid for us four to get in to Eilean Donan Castle, our first stop after leaving Skye across the road bridge opened in 1995.
The castle was the seat of the Mackenzie and MacRae clans, but was almost totally destroyed in 1719, and entirely rebuilt in the 1920s-30s by a John Macrae, head of the Clan Macrae, allies of the Mackenzie’s. One of the clan is the Canadian poet, John McRae, who wrote In Flanders Fields. The new
castle was based on the floor plans, but not the appearance, for the drawings of the castle weren’t found until its completion.
After Eilean Donan we travelled on to Fort Augustus for lunch. Some of our people did the boat cruise on Loch Ness, but we’ve been here a couple of times before. After a spot of lunch Tom and I wandered over to the lochs - the Caledonian Canal drops quite a ways to get down to Loch Ness level, and they opened up the lochs while we were there to get some boats through. They also had to turn the road bridge sideways to get them out into the Loch.
Fort Augustus had a happily working ATM, so we were able to restock the Bank of Natalie! After Fort Augustus we travelled through Monarch of the Glen country, over the Laggan and Grampian Mountains. We arrived at Dalwhinnie Distillery with enough time for some tastings of some lovely single malts, paired with chocolates!
We then drove by the stunning Blair Castle on our way in to Pitlochry. We had a 45 minute break here, so Natalie would have enough driving time left on her log
to get her back to Glasgow, so we figured, at 5pm, it was our only chance for dinner. We found a cafe run by an American and had some coffee and ham and cheese toasties. Then we wandered through a couple of Scottish souvenir shops (run by Indians), and on to a woollen mill, staffed with Scots where we found a nice fridge magnet and another Christmas Decoration! We noticed the incredible road infastructure that has grown since we were last here - huge 6 lane motorways with flyovers.
After that we continued on to Edinburgh via the Firth of Forth bridge again (the one that opened in August last year), where our fellow passengers departed. Natalie drove down to the station and waited while we ducked inside to the left luggage storage, paid for the extra couple of hours, and then quickly returned to the bus. We continued on to Glasgow, with Natalie pointing out the highlights (the beautiful Kelpies at night, another beautiful statue by the same artist at a cemetery by the motorway, the studio where Outlander is filmed, etc. etc.), arriving at our hotel at about 9pm. And that was the end of our 3
day tour of Skye and the Highlands. We gave Natalie a large Darrel Lea Rocky Road as well as a tip in an envelope, it had been a lovely 3 days with lovely cameraderie (the Thai girl who kept wanting to hug me, the lovely Canadians, the lovely Indian/Canadian/American girl - the Spanish and the French weren’t quite so inclusive, but still friendly), great music and chat from Natalie - ‘twas good.
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