Easter in the Highlands.

Trip Start Nov 27, 2012
Trip End May 18, 2013

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Flag of United Kingdom  , Scotland,
Friday, March 29, 2013

After a lovely few days in the beautiful university town of St Andrews, it was time to hit the road again. Easter holidays were looming and we knew that accommodation would be at a premium so we wanted to make sure that we chose our next stop wisely. We chose the Scottish Highlands and what a great choice it was!

We had intended to book our accommodation in Inverness, but soon found that we had left it a little late to stay there, so we opted for the tiny Highlands village of Drumnadrochit. This place is right on the banks of Loch Ness and what better reason to head there than to try to find the elusive Nessie!

Our drive from St Andrews was stunningly picturesque – especially in light of the snow which had fallen heavily in the area only about a week before. The surrounding mountains glistened in all their white glory, but even more importantly for us, the early spring sunshine burst through. Yes – we experienced beautiful weather for our time there.

Our first full day there saw us visiting Urquhart Castle. This is the castle which one often sees in photos of the Loch. Regular readers of our blog will know that we have visited a few castles on this trip. Each has been spectacular in its own way. This one is no exception. We spent at least two hours there learning about its history and just taking in the view.

After this we drove to the town of Fort William which is further down the Loch, after stopping for a yummy lunch at a waterside restaurant in Fort Augustus. Fort William is nestled near the tallest mountain in the United Kingdom – Ben Nevis (1344 metres). As such, the town is a centre for hikers, climbers and skiers. It is a lovely town which was bustling with Easter visitors when we were there.

The next day we sailed the Loch on a boat called the Nessie Hunter. This boat is skippered by a very knowledgeable local who maintains that he has actually seen the Loch Ness Monster and showed us his photographs to prove it! His commentary also gave us lots of facts about this vast body of water. Obviously the mystery surrounding the stories of this creature help the economy of the towns and villages in this part of the world, but it seriously is not done in a 'tacky' or over the top way, and it really is fun to hear the stories and ponder on whether or not they could be true. Leaving all of this aside, the area around the Loch has some of the most awesome natural scenery one is ever likely to see.

We also drove to the town of Beauly via a winding mountain road which took us through pine forests (Steve saw a herd of wild deer) to a dam. This route is well known to hikers and fishermen and we had it recommended to us by a friendly local who was only too happy to share it with us. Once again, we are indebted to the friendly people whom we have met on our journey because they have been invaluable in helping us to find these little gems.

At the conclusion of the Easter break, we left the Highlands to drive to Carnoustie - possibly for Steve’s last golf stop of our trip. On the way, we visited the whiskey distillery of Tomatin. Given that Steve had been taste testing a fair amount of the local beverage during our Highlands stay, it was only fitting that we actually made an attempt to learn about how the stuff is made! Due to duty free and flight restrictions on travelling with liquids, we decided to make our purchases of alcohol at our departure airport. With no plans to purchase and a drive ahead of us, we had to be content with some very limited sampling but it was an interesting detour on our Highlands adventure.

The fantastic Scottish hospitality which we experienced more than made up for the absence of the Easter Bunny. Instead, we got friendly locals, bagpipes, castles, haggis, whiskey, ‘mythical’ monsters, amazing scenery and gorgeous sunshine. Thankyou Scotland.
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