Apologies, this might be a bit of a low-effort-blog-post-day. After going through all the photos, it’s already 10pm and I’m only starting writing about the day now.
We started the day by getting the impression once again that Edinburgh doesn’t do early morning. Although we did find a place open at 7am, I get the feeling the staff has had at least one coffee but could have had a few more, coz if they hadn’t I think they’d be shuffling around, hands outstretched, moaning “Braaaaiiiinzzz….” at people. Anyway, breakfast was served, albeit with the bare minimum amount of effort or enthusiasm.
I guess the enthusiasm had to be up to us, because this was a big day – well, a big day of getting on and off a bus a lot over for the next 12 hours. We met our tour guide Paul and all our new bus-friends, on to the bus we all squished and off we went.
The basic plan was to visit Loch Ness and the highlands, and a few other bits and bobs along the way. There was a lot of beautiful scenery, though most of the time I didn’t photos because the reflections from the windows pretty much ruined it. Perry took some amazing videos though as the scenery passed by:
First stop for the day was the delightfully named “Kilmahog”. Happy to say we didn’t witness any hog killing, but we did get to meet three lovely “Hairy Coos”, whose names I’ve already forgotten, which will be surely be embarrassing if I bump into them down the street while doing some shopping. They were lovely and keen to meet us busloads of tourists, which made sense once I saw the sign saying you could buy little bags of cow feed in the nearby shop.
Next stop was a photo opportunity around Glen Coe – near Corrour. Very popular with hikers, it was absolutely beautiful on a day like this, incredible scenery and beautifully green. In winter though it’s unforgivably bleak and dangerous to those foolish enough to venture out, you’d really have to know what you were doing. But for us, on an uncharacteristically warm and sunny day, it was great! Just beautiful, and (apart from all the other busloads of tourists rushing by), quite peaceful.
Our tour guide/driver was a font of information, I should have been writing things down as I went as I’ve forgotten many of the interesting tales he had to tell us about Scotland and its (sometimes quite brutal) history. I did remember there about 31,000 Lochs across Scotland, and only one Lake. It’s still a Lake because it’s name after someone who ultimately betrayed Scotland, so he’s not worthy of being able to have a Loch named after him. (Why just just rename the loch after someone else, I don’t know).
The main focus of today’s trip was to reach Fort Augustus, the town at the edge of Loch Ness. It’s a little town, not that we got to see much of it as we had to head straight over to the boat for the Loch Ness cruise. Will we. Be the ones who finally get to see Nessie? Well, of course not. But this would have to be one of the strongest, longest running, and most well known marketing campaigns ever, so of course we had to come and sail the waters to see what we could see. The water itself is very dark, stained by the tannins of all the surrounding peat, so it really is difficult to see what is in there. Although years ago they found a British bomber sunk below the depths, which I’d never heard about before. Even more strange, after finally getting it to the surface, on a whim they gave it some power and electrics were still more or less working. Go figure! The tour guide reasoned that this is why you rarely see Nessie, she’s too busy at the bottom of the loch, repairing old planes. Hey, when it comes to Nessie I guess anything’s possible! We did get to see some mountain goats though, in an area which apparently has been left untouched for thousands of years (parts of the hills around the loch are so steep I’m not surprised it has been left untouched). Did we see Nessie though? I’ll let the photos tell the story. I’m sure they’re all 100% no photoshopped, at all.
On the way back, at the end of cruise, we also saw a very smart cow who decided to deal with the warm sunny day by taking a dip in the loch.
We then had a quick stop at the Commando monument – no, nothing about ditching your undies, this is dedicated to the commandos, the SAS, the Green Berets, the best of the best. Apparently some of their very rigorous training takes place out here in the wilds of the highlands. This was one of the rare days where Scotland’s highest mountain, Ben Nevis, was actually visible – only happens about 50 days per year.
Due to the nice weather the driver made a few other little stops, one here at Lagan Dam (I think!).
There was also a more lengthy stop in the pretty town of Pitlochry, where we enjoyed some local Whisky flavoured ice cream, which was dare I say probably more delicious than most whiskys I’ve had.
The last stop though was one i really enjoyed – we had time and the weather was on our side so our guide stopped at a viewing platform for the three bridges – one of these of course being the beautiful and enormous Forth Rail Bridge. As lunch would have a train was going over it while where were there, so you can get a sense of scale of just how big it is. Seems an awful lot of bother just for two train tracks, in this day and age. But it’s so pretty, the world’s first cantilever bridge, and still working as well now as I did back when it opened in 1879. So it was great to see that – I dunno why but some time when I was a kid this bridge really caught my attention (might have been on Simon Townsend’s Wonder World, who knows) – so it was really nice to finally see it in the flesh. Well, metal.
Dinner was at a fast-food-Japanese (yes, that’s a thing now) near the bus station, after which is was a quick walk back to the hotel, do blog stuff, and then off to bed for another adventure tomorrow. As always, stay tuned! Sorry if this entry is a bit rough and full of errors, I’ve done even less proofreading than usual (and the usual isn’t much!)