Scottish Highlands & Loch Ness

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May 31st 2010
Published: June 7th 2010
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Day 2

Feeling a bit worse for wear and after having an unscheduled sleep in, we rose for breakfast just in time. The Guinness sampling went well the night before and a traditional Scottish breakfast was just what the doctor ordered. The traveller still inside us, told us to take advantage of the buffet breakfast so that we could prolong the time until our next stop but most importantly to save on money. Not every person starts the day with a continental and Scottish breakfast but we said we’d give it a try! On one of the hot plates was something resembling black pudding, so I presumed it was Haggis. Now breakfast is an important meal of the day so it was time, just yet, to try out the local delicacy. Fed, watered and thermos filled (free of charge this time) we hit the road in search of the Loch Ness monster, but instead we found probably some of the most beautiful landscape on the British and Irish isles.

Scottish roads are mainly single lane (normal roads to me) and are perfect for anyone who likes to get out, drive and leave the city behind. The roads are full of bikers, who all travel in large groups and are a sight to be seen when passing by. We even saw a ladies biker club/gang, who wore pink feathers on their helmets and leather wear. There were easily 100 plus in their group and people stopped their cars and got out to take photo’s of them passing. Camper vans also roam the country side and Scotland is made perfectly for them. Public camp grounds are dotted all around, in some of the most spectacular areas and provide basic but perfect facilities for those who use them. Anyway, back to us! The skies were clear blue that morning, with only the odd whisp of a white cloud around.

We were welcomed into the Highlands by a sign stating, “Welcome to the outdoor capital of Britain”. We found it really hard to make any ground as every mile or so we stopped to take photo’s. The authorities were clever and have placed small parking areas very frequently along the road side, so that tourists can stop in safety and take photo’s. The landscape is jaw dropping and I’d say the amount of times people say “wow” as they pass through Glencoe could set a record in the Guinness book of records. Glaciers have shaped the land so dramatically over time and the drive through the glen is distracting to say the least. I always thought New Zealand had the most amazing scenery and it still does, but Glencoe is a close second. New Zealand just has hundreds of “Glencoe’s”, that’s the only difference. It also happens to be the same size as Britain, so Scotland can be excused with only having one!

There are many castles in Scotland and one in particular we took a bit of a detour to go and see it. Castle Stalker was built on an island in the middle of Loch Liach. It is not Scotland’s best island castle (that award goes to Eilean Donan castle which we didn’t get to see) but it was definitely worth the detour to see it. Our journey from there continued on to Ben Nevis, Britain’s highest mountain, where we had lunch and pondered which one was actually Ben Nevis. This pondering didn’t last too long though as I had ordered what would be called Scotland’s national dinner. Haggis, Pataties(mash potatoes) and Neeps(turnip). When the world hears the word haggis everyone who’s heard of it but never tried it makes a strange face. I waited in anticipation for my meal to arrive. The soon landed on my table and first impressions were that the haggis didn’t look that bad. I was delighted though that it tasted gorgeous. It’s kind of like white (pork meat) and black(pigs blood basically) pudding mixed together and a few spices added.

With so much taken in already that day we still had a full days sightseeing in front of us. We arrived into Fort Augustus where we took a boat tour on Loch Ness and hoped that today would be the day that somebody actually saw the elusive Loch Ness Monster. Nessy was obviously unavailable so we had to make do with the magnificent views from out on the lake. It’s amazing the industry that has been created by the supposed monster but I guess the boat trips would be busy without the thought of spotting Nessy as the beauty of the place could easily stand alone without some cheesy “Monster Spotting Tour”. Loch Ness has enough water in it to fill all the rivers and lakes in the whole of Britain. A proud boast in itself. On our way back to the car I saw a sign for a Children’s rare animal farm. It was getting late but I dragged Michelle down the stoney laneway for a look. It was all looking a bit weird after five minutes of walking along the river’s bank but it eventually appeared. The entrance was £2 each and we had to put it in an honesty box. I had £3.50 in change and a five pound note. I battled with my conscious until I decided to put in the £5. To our delight the first animals we saw were pygmy goats. And theses pygmy goats had a pygmy baby goat about a foot tall at the most. We fed it hay for a few minutes before realising the place was one giant pygmy (excuse the contradiction) farm. It had Shetland ponies, pygmy sheep, hairy but not so pygmy cows, and many more different animals. A lady came over to us to ask did we put money in the honesty box and in my head I was saying if she accuses us of not putting money in after putting in £1 more than we should, I’ll tell her what for. I soon felt embarrassed at my thoughts. She was coming over to give us back the £1, which we then refused to take back, probably more out of guilt at my thoughts than “ah sure, buy some chicken feed with it”.

We had made a decision to drive up the right hand side of Loch Lomond. Reports suggested that the left side is crowded with tourists and the views were not as good. I think we made the right choice as we met no traffic on the way and the views were amazing. We had booked a hotel half way along the lake at £50 a night and all though there was nothing wrong with the place, we should have known what it would be like when they had a big sign saying no children. It was a bit too quite and peaceful for us and dinner was pricey at £19 each. We checked in and made out way back to a small hotel/pub/restaurant we saw a few miles back. We fell in love with the place as it was old and slightly dated but the food was great and service came with a smile. I did have one sneaky pint of Guinness (I have to test them as an ambassador of my country!) and it wasn’t bad. The young girl behind the counter asked was I Irish. When she realised I was she said in her broad Scottish accent “oh shite, that means I have to pour this properly then does it?”.

In a bit. DH

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7th June 2010

The Highlands
The Highlands are always magical with blue skies and sunshine! I recently spent a day in The Highlands where it was grey and rainy but beautiful nevertheless. Love your blogs and happy travels, Dawn
9th June 2010

Everything in the Scottish Highlands seems so picturesque!

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