WELL for those who follow me on Instagram will know that last week I had the best week ever, and that was because I had a very special visitor, my best friend Claire came all the way from Quebec to spend the week with me!! Throughout the week, in the midst of my classes and work, Claire and I managed to get out of Glasgow for a few adventures. We spent a day in Edinburgh, Stirling, and took a bus tour up into the Highlands. I have only been to the low part of the Highlands so it was a new adventure for me to travel further up north!
The bus tour we took was with Discover Scotland Tours from Glasgow. The tour left at 7:45am and we arrived back in Glasgow around 8:00pm. It was a fantastic tour and I would 100% do it again. There were only six of us on the tour, and the driver drove a large van, so it was much nicer than travelling with forty plus tourists on a coach through the small twisty roads up to the Highlands. The tour went as far north as Inverness before turning back south. With being Canadian it is mind blowing how you can travel over half of the country in just one day!
The first stop in the early morning was Loch Lomond. I have been to Loch Lomond a few times, but always a different part of the loch. Since it was only shortly after eight when we were there the water was so calm and peaceful. It was absolutely beautiful. We learned that there are over 60 islands in Loch Lomond. Following our stop at Loch Lomond, we had a coffee break at the Drover’s Inn. The Drover’s Inn is an Inn and pub that was established in 1705 and is supposed to be haunted. We were welcomed into the pub by many interesting critters, including a two-headed sheep…
As we drove up and down the twisty and narrow roads, we made multiple stops at lookout points to admire the scenery before we stopped at Glencoe. The further north we got the more snow there was (but not much snow at all compared to Canadian standards). The week before in Glasgow, I had three snow days in a row, and it was like nothing I had ever experienced. There was only maybe 10cm of snow out, schools and universities all over the city were cancelled, grocery stores closed, restaurants closed, shops closed early, and all public transportation stopped, it was basically as if there was a Zombie Apocolypse!
We then arrived at Glencoe before lunchtime and it was spectacular. Glencoe was the site where the MacDonald clan was slaughtered by the Campbell Clan on the 13th of February 1692, on the orders of King William and Mary. For those Game of Throne fans, it was this event that inspired the Red Wedding. The location of Glencoe now is known for its beauty between the hills and has become a popular filming location. The location of James Bond’s cottage Skyfall was built in Glencoe and Harry Potter films were filmed here as well!
Our next stop was the infamous Loch Ness! After six months of living in Scotland, I was finally able to go look for Nessie. My first memory of learning about Scotland as a child had to do with the Loch Ness Monster… Scooby-Doo and the Mystery gang made a trip to Scotland to solve the Loch Ness mystery, and I had watched that film many times with my younger brothers. Loch Ness is shaped fairly different from the other Lochs in Scotland because it is extremely long, 36.2 km in length and only 2.7 km wide. There is also more water in Loch Ness than all the lakes combined in England and Wales!
Claire and I took the boat cruise out on the Loch and around Urquhart Castle. Unfortunately, the castle was closed at the time for renovations, but we were still able to get a beautiful view of the castle from the boat. Aboard the catamaran, there was a live presentation about the Loch that we were able to listen to while drinking the “Sazzi Ness” Loch Ness Lager. After our visit to Loch Ness, I have to admit I am very captivated by the mystery of the Loch, even if there may not be a monster in the loch, there are many scientific mysteries that scientists are studying. Like why the temperature of the Loch permanently stays around 5.5 degrees centigrade and the waters of Loch Ness never freeze over or why there are only fish between 200ft- 500ft below sea level? You will also notice from the photographs how dark the water is, and that is because peat from the banks runs into the loch creating a dark murky water which makes it nearly impossible to see through when you are swimming underwater in the loch!
On the way back after driving through Inverness, we stopped in the posh town of Pitlochry for dinner. It was the cutest little town, and our tour guide told us it is a very popular destination for people to come and stay for a weekend getaway, it reminded me a bit of St. Andrews back home in New Brunswick! My favourite part of Pitlochry was this little sweet shop that sells ice cream made with whiskey. Our tour guide recommended it to us, and it was definitely worth it!
After visiting the Highlands it honestly just made me love Scotland even more!!! Scotland is such a beautiful, incredible country with so much culture. Seeing the Highlands was a really surreal moment for me to realize that I actually live here. Realistically, I think everyone should just move to Scotland!! Anyways, I am already looking forward to the next time I head up to the Highlands, I am hoping to explore Inverness and Aberdeen and some point in the near future too!
P.S. Thanks for all the great photographs Claire!!