To the North - Inverness here we come

Trip Start Jan 31, 2011
Trip End Jul 10, 2011

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Where I stayed
Smithton Hotel Inverness
Read my review - 2/5 stars

Flag of United Kingdom  , Scotland,
Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Tuesday 14.06.2011 - we saddled up and headed northwards under clear blue skys - destination Inverness. Prior to leaving the hotel carpark Greg had a conversation with a guy who was keen to know all about our bikes, where we had gone and where we were going to. When he learnt we were heading for Inverness he inquired if we were fans of the TV series Monarch of the Glen. On receiving affirmation he suggested we ride up the A889 to Dalwhinnie and then follow the A86 because it takes you past Loch Laggan from where you can view 'Strathbogle', the castle used in the TV series. It is really called Dalwhinnie House. The guy also said the scenery is 'magical'. Deal done - that was the way we were heading, especially as the weather forecast was for fine weather.  

Kerrie & Greg had twice before in 1997 and in 2007 stopped at the small village of Pitlochry which is renowned for its woollen mills and the fine quality woollen garments for sale. How lucky we were that it coincided with a morning tea break!

We parked the bikes and set off on foot to explore the town, eager to check out the shops and cash in on any bargains going. We weren't disappointed. With the value of the Australian dollar now bringing an exchange rate of around 65 cents for one British pound, buying is attractive. We found many high quality woollen garments at very reasonable prices. The trouble is, we live in Queensland and the chances to wear such clothing is very limited so we had to settle for checking out the bargains without actually buying anything! Bugger bugger!

After leaving Pitlochry we followed the directions to the A86 and rode alongside Loch Laggan until we could see across the Loch, about 300 metres distance, the magnificent Dalwhinnie House aka Strathbogle. See busily took some snaps because the parking bay we had pulled up in was minimal and we didn't want to get cleaned up by some idiot tourist doing exactly what we were doing - sightseeing!.

After having our fill of Monarch of the Glen and making jokes about one of the characters called 'Golly the Gilly'. Gilly is Scottish for overseer and accordingly to the series his name 'Golly' came from a female acquaintance who encountered Golly down by the lakeside and when she looked under his kilt she exclaimed "Golly!!". The name stuck.  We travelled beside Loch Laggan for several miles before stopping at the dam, built in 1932, that created the Loch. Kerrie decided it was time to rug up because although it was clear blue skys it was bloody cold!

We stopped for lunch at Spean Bridge which is a small village more famous for the Commandos Memorial statue about one mile north of town. In WW2 Winston CHURCHILL called for the establishment of a force capable of operating behind enemy lines and disrupting their war effort - the Commandos were born and trained in the Scottish Highlands nearby.

Of particular interest to us was the a circular memorial garden where plaques, crosses and photos were laid of past Commandos, either having died on active service or, if lucky enough, to have passed away in their bed of old age. There were a large number of plaques to Commandos killed on active service in Afghanistan or Iraq. 

After leaving the Commando Memorial we swung north and followed A82 past Loch Locky and then parallel to Loch Ness. The scenery was spectacular to say the least.

We stopped to view Urquart Castle, a ruin of a once proud ediface on the edge of the loch. We decided not to explore it as they charged to get in and wouldn't even let people use the toilets in the visitors' centre unless you paid the entrance fee.   

We pulled up at Drumnadrochit which is the centre of all things Loch Ness Monsterish. We had the obligatory photo shoot next to the statue of the monster as, after all, we didn't see the real thing!

We then continued northbound and rolled into Inverness, a very beautiful city, before finding our way to the Smithton Hotel, our digs for the next two nights. After checking in we jumped back on the bikes and headed into downtown Inverness. We strolled around for a bit looking at all the differnt menus on offer before deciding on a good selection available at a pub. To walk off our magnificent evening meal we wandered the city looking at the hilltop castle and agreed that every town of note in the UK must have a castle on the hilltop or else it doesn't rate.

We also walked alongside the River Ness and marvelled at the speed of the waterflow from the mountains into the junction of the Beauly and Moray Firths. What we couldn't figure out was if the River Ness flows through Inverness why doesn't it empty into the Firth of Ness? 
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Ronald Beswick on

Christopher! Bring back some Haggis!!

Jo Hannan on

Hey Greg, you've acquired a scarf! Looking very smart.

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