From Glasgow I took the train to Edinburgh where I met with my companions for the next five days during our tour of the highlands. I was the only person traveling on my own – as was to be expected – but I didn’t mind. We were quite a mixed group from various countries. Most of us were a bit older than I am, and there were mostly couples, but also a few friends who were travelling together. It was a nice group and we had a really nice guide who also drove the van.
The first day of our trip was my first day in Scotland with typical (well according to the cliche at least) scottish weather. Rainy and foggy.
We didn’t mind though during our first couple of stops and the sun came out before noon after all. The first stop was at Dunkeld, where the cathedral is part still in use and part in ruins. Beautiful ruins :-)
From Dunkeld we only drove a few minutes to see the first of many, many waterfalls we would visit during the trip. They were all unique and impressive or just beautiful. I won’t post photos of all of them though :) But this was the first one at The Hermitage. The whole region is called “Big Tree Country” because there are a lot of old and tall trees, firs and such.
We continued our trip through the Cairgorms National Park (more tall and old trees) to Loch an Eilein with it’s beautiful castle ruins in the middle of the loch.
Next stop was Loch Ness, where we even did two photo stops because it’s really a huge lake. Well a “loch” of course :-)
We spent this and the following night in Inverness, which was a nice little city. Little for my standard, but not so little for the folks living in northern Scotland, on the Herbrides or Orkney Islands. Some guests in my boardinghouse actually were in town for a shopping trip. Which baffeled me at first, because there weren’t that many shops or outlets in Inverness and I thought you’d go to Edinburgh or Glasgow for a real shopping trip. But that’s a long way from the Orkney Islands or the northern coast of Scotland.
The travel company did book our accomadations, or at least they did that for most of us, and we were placed in different hotels, boardinghouses or B&B. In Inverness – on the first stop – there happened to have been some confusion with the reservations at the boardinghouse I was supposed to stay in. The hotel next door, which had taken over the boardinghouse recently didn’t have my reservation and they had no vacancies either. Great! Our guide had already disappeared after dropping me off and I was starting to freak out a bit. But the hotel staff called some other boardinghouses on the same street and found a room for me without any problem. I still didn’t like that I had to go through that moment of panic :-)
View of the River Ness which runs through the town center….
Day 2 started with a visit at Falls of Shin near Lairg. The visitor center belongs to Mohamed Al-Fayed who according to our guide owns a large estate somewhere near. There are Harrod’s souvenirs for sale and in the middle of the souvenir shop there is a display dummy clad in kilt and typical scottish clothes. And it’s a model of Al-Fayed himself, well the head at least. A bit weird, isn’t?
We did a photo stop somewhere between Lairg and Loch Assynt, even though I don’t know why or what was so interesting on the other side of the road. I only remember that most of us were taking pictures on the other side of the road, whereas I took this picture :-)
On Loch Assynt there are the ruins of Ardvreck Castle. These might have been my favourite castle ruins on the trip. So so beautiful…
Because it was such a nice day our guide suggested to just buy some food at the small supermarket in Lochinver and drive out to Achmelvich Beach to spend the lunch break there. And that was such a great idea…
Once again I don’t quite remember why we stopped here, maybe just for the view itself? Somewhere between Ullapool and our next stop…
The last stop of the day before our return to Inverness were the Corrieshalloch Gorge and the Falls of Measach. A spectacular waterfall in a narrow canyon (=gorge). There was a suspension bridge, which was high above the bottom of the canyon and there were supposed to be only six persons on the bridge at once. We read that warning sign after we were on the bridge with 11 persons. No wonder it felt so shaky and wobbly up there *g*
That’s all for now, the next round of photos will follow tomorrow.