Well, this weekend my friends and I went on our first adventure of the new year, and it was a huge success (as per usual). Our destination was Kilchurn Castle on Loch Awe, and besides exploring a really neat castle ruin, we were able to see Scotland in a different light.. or rather colour.. instead of the iconic green hills that one typically sees in Scotland, the hills were covered in snow so everything was white and so beautiful.
Instead of taking a train or bus to Loch Awe we decided to rent a car for the first time and we will definitely be doing it again. The driving itself was an interesting experience.. because it had just snowed that morning, and one new thing I have learned about Scotland in the past two weeks is they have no idea how to deal with snow. It is like the country partially stops functioning the moment a snowflake touches the ground. For example, they cancelled classes on Friday because of the snow… and there was even less snow in Glasgow then you will see in the photos below. While driving we did not have any issues, but other cars were getting stuck all over the place because they were going to slow that they would get stuck on a small patch of ice. We were stopped twice for half hours periods as cars were stuck on ice. Then when ploughs came to help, people did not move to allow the ploughs to slide by! Most of my friends I was travelling with are Canadians, so we found it quite comical to watch all these people freaking out over a couple of centimetres of snow. The drive was beautiful though, going through cute little villages, and see all of the Scottish hills covered in snow, it felt like we were actually in Narnia.
The drive itself was supposed to be around two hours, but with some of the car incidents, it took a bit longer. We had a great road trip though, and my friend Erika enlightened the car ride my playing all sorts of Scottish music, our very own soundtrack for our adventure. Our personal favourite Scottish song has become a remix edition of the traditional song Loch Lomond https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rbb9aRSQpsY.
When we first arrived at our destination it was pretty snowy! We discovered that the castle site was actually closed because of the weather… but that did not stop us. We started off by hopping over the fence and that trend continued for the next couple of hours. Kilchurn Castle is located on Loch Awe, which is the third largest freshwater loch in Scotland.
Since the road that is supposed to be used to enter the castle site was closed we decided to hike around the entire loch so we could go right up to the castle. The ground around the loch was really marshy and we found ourselves jumping over streams, fences, and such to get the entire way around. About fifteen minutes into our adventure the most miraculous thing happened, while we had been to busy trying not to soak our feet the sun had come out, so when we turned around this is what we saw!!
While it was snowing we were unable to see the beautiful hills behind us and all of a sudden we felt like we were in a different location, and the loch suddenly became even more incredible. As we continued to hike around the marshy loch (our feet ended up getting pretty wet) we encountered some other adventurers… mainly sheep and highland cows that were wandering around. The sheep are funny because they would just stand still and watch us for a bit then realize we were not very exciting and would go on their way. There were two highland cows (or highland coos as the Scots would say) we were able to get close enough to them to feed them!
About an hour later we finally made it to the castle! Kilchurn castle itself is currently a ruin, but the original castle was built in the 15th century by the Clan Campbell. Sometimes when the water is high, the castle itself becomes a little island that is only accessible by boat. It felt like we were in an episode of Game of Thrones walking up to the castle since there was absolutely nobody around!
After we were done exploring the castle we decided to walk along the road to get back to our car. The roads are so narrow that there is no shoulder of the road to really walk along, so we had to walk along the snow bank in single file and basically stop moving when a car went to pass us…. we even got sprayed a few times…
Following our adventure, we headed to the next town over in search of a pub. We ended up in the small town of Inverary which is on the west shore of Loch Fyne. By the time we arrived it was close to 3pm so we were all rather hungry, and went for the Scottish classic fish and chips, alongside a pint of course at the Inverary Inn. As we were leaving the pub the sun was starting to set over Loch Fyne and it was absolutely spectacular. The highlands looked so incredible.
Renting a car for the day was such a success for us! It was a lot more fun then taking the train, and we were able to be significantly more independent then if you have a train or bus schedule to work with! I am sure I will be writing about another road trip in the near future, but for right now it is time to finish my thesis proposal… despite popular belief, I actually do a lot of school of work, I promise!!