Friday, October 26, 2012

Scotland - beyond Glasgow

We made our way via rental car to Blairgowrie - a small picturesque town near Perth visited by many tourist coaches during the summer months. The area around Blairgowrie is famous for its exceptional fishing and hunting. Brian and Angela (Rosemary's son and daughter-in-law) are currently building a seven bedroom, seven bathroom holiday home on the river - the street name is Balmoral and if any of you are Royal followers you will know the royal family has a home in Scotland called Balmoral Castle. Well continue on Balmoral Road and you will come to Balmoral Castle - but I will leave that for another blog!

Holiday Home in progress

River beside holiday home

After a night in Blairgowrie it was off to Lochness in search of Nessie. On the way we stopped at a lovely little town called Pitlochry (yes Sue I made it few days too late for us to meet up). Pitlochry is largely a Victorian town, whose success as a tourist resort was due to Queen Victoria visiting the area in 1842, and the arrival of the railway in 1863. It remains a popular tourist resort today and is particularly known as a centre for hillwalking - we call it hiking

Although the temperature is slightly cool the sky is an astounding blue, making our way to Lochness a spectacular drive.

We arrived in Drumnadrochit on the west shore of Loch Ness to stay at the Lochness hotel and exhibition centre for 2 nights. Brian's friend owns the hotel so we got a B&B special price of 15 pound each per night.

We decided to take a drive around the area; up some of the back country roads ( what was I thinking) - these roads can be quite narrow and in addition to pulling over, where possible, to let those drivers go by who are aching to pass me, you have to watch for animals crossing the road or grazing on the road. However we did see some wonderful sites - Agnes and Terry this is certainly an area to look into hiking as the north of Scotland is full of trails.

On the way back to the hotel we stopped into a country pub for a brew beside the fire and then back to the hotel for a wonderful haggis dinner (one should be tiring of haggis by now, but it seems not).

Over the years, the many sightings of the Loch Ness Monster, or Nessie, have produced a rather uniform description of the creature. It is said to have a long, slender neck that attaches a flat, rectangular head to a rounded body that possess four large flippers. Some report Nessie to have a long, slender tail while others insist it is shorter and thicker. One of the most prominent features attributed to Nessie are the eyes, large and situated on either side of the head. The color and length of the creature seems to be a point of contention, possibly due to the fact that the loch is dark and murky, sunlight not easily penetrating through the peat moss concentrated in the water. Reports have Nessie appearing grey or a dark tan color, ranging from the size of an elephant to as large as a whale.
The number of reported sightings of the Loch Ness Monster is extremely large. However, there are several that are worth noting, especially the earlier reports that led to Nessie's world wide celebrity. The first reported sighting during modern times was in 1880, by a diver named Duncan McDonald, who had an alleged underwater encounter with a creature that left him quite shaken. But it was not until a string of sightings in the 1930s that Loch Ness received world attention. On July 22, 1933, Mr. George Spicer and his wife saw “a most extraordinary form of animal” cross the road in front of their car. We are hoping to have our own Nessie sighting.

Lochness at its deepest point is 230 m (755 ft), deeper than any other loch except Loch Morar. It contains more fresh water than all the lakes in England and Wales combined, and is the largest body of water on the Great Glen Fault, which runs from Inverness in the north to Fort William in the south of Scotland.

On the shores of Loch ness lies the ruins of Urquhart Castle that dates back to the 6th century. Though extensively ruined, it was in its day one of the largest strongholds of medieval Scotland, and remains an impressive structure, splendidly situated on a headland overlooking Loch Ness. It is also near this castle that the majority of Nessie sightings occur. Aye perhaps we will be in for a Nessie sighting!

Can you see Nessie in the background? Sorry I think she went underwater just as I was taking this photo!

We have picked another beautiful day for our 158km journey to Portree on the isle of Skye. The only problem is my stomach is a little upset today - I will blame it on too much haggis. The highland views are so spectacular and certainly should not be missed. I was hoping to see some heather covered mountains but I am a few weeks too late and the first frosts have turned the heather brown.

Yes this is an actual picture I took with a little canon camera! The colors are unbelievable I feel like I am looking at a postcard.

Our first stop was Eilean Donan castle. As one of the most iconic images of Scotland, Eilean Donan is recognized all around the world. Situated on an island at the point where three great sea lochs meet, and surrounded by some majestic scenery, it is little wonder that the castle is now one of the most visited and important attractions in the Scottish highlands.

Although first inhabited around the 6th century, the first fortified castle was built in the mid 13th century and stood guard over the lands of Kintail. Since then, at least four different versions of the castle have been built and re-built as the feudal history of Scotland unfolded through the centuries.

Partially destroyed in a Jacobite uprising in 1719, Eilean Donan lay in ruins for the best part of 200 years until Lieutenant Colonel John MacRae-Gilstrap bought the island in 1911 and proceeded to restore the castle to its former glory. After 20 years of toil and labour the castle was re-opened in 1932.

It is nice to visit a castle that is still in use today. Unfortunately we were not allowed any inside photography. However when I got to the great banquet hall I recognized it from a movie and found out from the tour guide that it was used in the movie 'Maid of Honor' - yes my movie professional friend Vernette we did see this movie and now I have seen the castle. The castle was also used in other films such as James Bond and Highlander - for a mere 1500 pound (about $2300) it can be rented for a wedding ceremony!

Well at about lunchtime I have come to realize that my stomach problems are much more like flu symptoms as every inch of me is starting to ache and I am feeling very warm. However, I will not be deterred from our mission and so it is onwards to Skye.

Although I did not feel well during this drive (and I am the driver), I would not have missed these spectacular views of Scotland.

The Skye Bridge is a road bridge over Loch Alsh, connecting mainland Highland with the Isle of Skye, Scotland.

The water is really this blue!

Made it to Portree on the Isle of Skye - not sure how because I really feel sick now and I still have to drive back, but this scenery is worth every ounce of discomfort. However I am freezing now as it is really cold here and I definitely need more layers!

Portree is the largest town on Skye in the Inner Hebrides of Scotland. It is the location for the only secondary school on the Island, Portree High School.

Portree has a harbour, fringed by cliffs. The Royal Hotel is the site of MacNab's Inn, the last meeting place of Flora MacDonald and Bonnie Prince Charlie in 1746.

  • Portree is the home of a fictional professional Quidditch team operating within the Harry Potter universe.

    The film Made Of Honor partially takes place in Portree. A sweeping shot of the town's main street is shown.

    Not quite sure how I did the drive back but we arrived back at the hotel at 6pm and I took drugs and was in bed fast asleep by 6:30pm until 8 am the next morning. When I was feeling a bit better!


1 comment:

  1. Lorna,

    Great shots, excellent weather.
    I remember being in Skye in the 1970's; lots of deer - red in colour. It was a ferry ride in those days!!