Wednesday, July 26, 2017

We Saw Nessie (Scotland #4)

Early on Wednesday morning, we woke up and walked past the castle to meet 
our tour group for a visit to the Highlands. It may not look like it, but it's 7:30 in the morning here.

There were lots of tours to choose from, but we picked one that went to Loch Ness because of the famous monster who lurks there, and we thought we'd get to cover more ground and see more of Scotland that way!

We went with Timberbush tours. I can't remember our guide's name (he was an older man), but he was fantastic. He regaled us with stories of Scotland and the places we passed, and also played really interesting history stories over the loudspeaker in the bus. I feel like we learned a lot about Scotland, and that it was done in an engaging way. It's rare to say that over 12 hours on a bus goes by fast, but the time really flew by and we enjoyed every moment.

Here's our route for the day. We were scheduled to make five stops, but we ended up making two unscheduled ones for pictures.

The day was also beautiful. It didn't rain at all, and the sun was shining so bright that we got to take our jackets off and bask in the lovely day. Our guide told us that there are only 20 or so days like this a YEAR. That proves that I wouldn't last long in Scotland, because after just a couple of their gloomy days, I was really needing this sunshine.

Here we are passing the famous Kelpies statues, the largest equine statues in the world

And we saw lots of sheep, just as I'd expected.

Our first stop mid-morning was a scheduled one in Callender to a place with a restaurant, gift shop, and these Highland Cows outside. Their names were Hamish and Honey.

We picked up some shortbread cookies to share.

Our next stop was an unscheduled one for photos because it was such a beautiful day. It's going to look so fake and edited, but the only things I did to the following photos included cropping, straightening, and a little bit of contrast when the sun got too bright.

The next stop was a scheduled one in Glencoe, in the Highlands. The stop was quite full with buses, so we had to go to a lower stopping point versus a higher one, but that wasn't a problem to us!

I just wanted to point out the difference in leg length here... 

The Harry Potter movies were filmed in various parts of the Scottish Highlands. There's a train that runs through that was used as the Hogwarts Express (yes, tourists can ride it!), and you can see where the forest was filmed. Some of the Quidditch games were superimposed on the background of many of these green highland hills.

We stopped for lunch and had fish and chips. The line was long and we had to rush.

We made another unscheduled stop at Ben Nevis, which is the highest point in Britain. It's a little over 4,000 feet high, which makes it not so mountainous by some standards, but the guide was so excited about it, and it was still impressive with the rolling hills.

At last we arrived at the Clansman Hotel for our cruise of Loch Ness. 

As we were waiting for the boat to pull up, Carson and I saw something mysterious in the water that wasn't a wave. Was it a giant piece of seaweed? Something funny they put in the loch for tourists? I'm not sure because I didn't hear anyone else utter a word, but here's the picture:

We boarded the Jacobite Warrior at 3pm for an hour long cruise.

We turned around at Urquhart Castle, some ruins that were first built in the 13th century. We'd had the option to get off the tour bus here and explore it, then take the boat back thirty minutes to the tour guide, but we opted to take an entire hour cruise (it was cheaper).

On our way back, we drove through the city of Inverness, and then past lots of beautiful places, green fields, cows and sheep and castles.

We stopped for thirty minutes in Pitlochry.

We got back to our spot near the castle and then trudged down, hungry and looking for dinner at 9pm when we got back. What a great tour! I'd definitely recommend the tour company we chose. I think all tours are on the expensive side, but we budgeted (this is really the only thing we did that we had to pay for) and I think it was worth it!

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