Yes, I am way behind on the journal, I’ll catch you up when I can, probably mostly when I get back home. Heres my journal entry from back on day 4 – seems like a long time ago now 🙂
We had been spoiled by the weather so far, it was never going to last – today we were given what in all honesty we had expected all along, cold, rainy & windy weather. The main purpose for beginning our vacation in Scotland was that for the last 14 years my wife has been asking me to take her to Scotland and to one place in particular, Loch Ness. Call it childish fantasy, American intrigue, or just because well, you know, it’s Loch Ness.
It was about an hour’s drive from where we were staying, a long twisting hour of a drive, another that would be incredible fun in a good car on a dry day (if the roads were empty & not speed restricted). Given that we are going to France next week I decided to get a learn French while you drive audio book & spent the journey being reminded of how much I didn’t pay attention in French class as a kid. The twisty roads didn’t sit well wife my wife who was utterly car sick by the time we reached the Loch ness visitors center.
The visitors center was actually quite good, several rooms with projected educational videos. Personally i think they missed an opportunity to really ham up the Loch Ness Monster, but I guess I can get behind the factual & very interesting presentation instead. They did in the end leave it up to us if we believed there was a monster or not (spoiler alert – there isn’t).
The rain eased up just enough for us to enjoy a picnic lunch out of the back of the car.
The next plan was to find a place overlooking the Loch to do some Nessie spotting & also take some photos as well as just breath in the clean, damp air. On the way to Fort Augustus where we planned to do this we saw Urquhart Castle which from the road looked like both a greta place to view the Loch and also another great old castle to go visit. I knew from when we bought our Scotland Explorers pass that it was covered under the places we had already gone to so we decided to venture in.
Unfortunately we then discovered that we had left the pass at home, being an Englishman that was tremendously disappointing, obviously we wouldn’t be able to get in, but also being from Yorkshire I simply wouldn’t be able to pay again to get in, ok so maybe I’m playing up the stereotypes just for fun, but you get the picture. On the bright side, I married a Texas girl, my wife explained the situation & our forgetfulness to the ticket lady who said that my wife had such a trustworthy face that she would go ahead & let us in, but we were not to tell anyone, so do me a favor & don’t tell anyone 😉
The castle was wonderful, evolved from a Pictish camp to a medieval fortress it was abandoned in the mid 1500s following years of raid by the Macdonalds (no big macs that I saw) the residents at the time loaded the place with gun powder and blew it up. The setting was beautiful, down a green grass hill from the road right on the Loch side, the views in all directions utterly stunning. Also stunning was how fierce and cold the wind was down there, it wasn’t exactly pleasant in the car park, but down in the castle it was blowing a gale, the wind whipping up off the Loch bringing blasts of clod dank air.
We still thoroughly explored the castle although a little more hurriedly than we would ordinarily have done. The older I get, apparently the more practical I think, the steep spiral stair & the open windows must have been a nightmare in mid winter. They must have had some good doors to block out the cold or they would have been just miserable living in those castles a thousand years ago.
Despite out best efforts to spot him, the Loch Ness monster was not at the castle, after slightly longer in the cold than we could stand it was back to the twisty road and French lessons. I think I can reserve a room now when we get to Paris, which would be handy if that wasn’t already arranged!