Monday, 14 September 2015

Travel: Inverness and the Scottish Highlands - Part 1

Hi Folks. Sorry for the hiatus. Ever since I got back from Scotland, and the Autumn has been drawing in, all I’ve really wanted to do is knit, sew and practice guitar. I’m back nonetheless, and ready to regale you with stories of my holiday.  

The river Ness at Inverness

Whilst I’ve been to Edinburgh, I hadn’t visited anywhere else in Scotland, and both me and the hubby had a long standing desire to explore, fuelled by a combination of our love of Celtic culture and the amazing images we had found all over pinterest. We had booked into the grand and luxurious Royal Highland Hotel in Inverness as our base, and started our long (10 hour) drive North in the early hours of Friday morning. By the time dawn was breaking, we were well on our way across North Yorkshire, and heading for the border counties. 

Loch Lomond

It wasn’t really until we crossed the border, and in fact, until we passed Glasgow that the landscape really started to open up. We stopped off at Loch Lomond, the first of many Lochs we would pass on the way, and continued our scenic drive up through Glencoe. It was breathtaking. Vista after vista of imposing mountain ranges, and the colours, oh my the colours, I can easily see how the tweed weavers of the Highlands take their inspiration from the landscape surrounding them.

Gorgeous Glencoe

 Having pulled over at the side of the road on many occasions to gasp in wonderment at the views that filled our eyes, by the time we were reaching Fort William, and the world famous Ben Nevis, there was a mist descending. It meant that we couldn’t see the summit, but we knew it was there.

Beautiful reception at the Royal Highland hotel

 We arrived in Inverness at around 2.30pm, it was drizzly, chilly and dull, but that was fine as we had expected that and dressed accordingly. Having checked in to our lovely room, we headed straight out to peruse the town. It’s a compact town on a beautifully picturesque river. 

Inverness Castle

There is a castle, and the usual high street shops, as well as art shops, book shops and myriad of tartan and tweed shops. 

The High Street in Inverness
The town felt quite bustling, despite its small size, and is obviously an attractive venue to tourists from the world over. After a wander around taking in the sights of the castle and bridges, we retired to a Weatherspoons for our evening meal. We had intended to go, on that first evening to Hootenanny, to enjoy a local Ceilidh, but as the hours passed us by, the early start and long drive we had undertaken begun to take effect. Walking back to the hotel in the pouring rain we decided against it, and bought some goodies and spent the evening in the warm comfort of our room.

The Mr... all set for our hike

The next day we woke early and refreshed to bright crisp sunshine, and enjoyed a hearty Scottish breakfast, yes of course it included porridge. Then we made the short journey from Inverness to Drumnadrochit, a nearby village close to the famous Loch Ness. Again, the tourist factor was evident as the tiny little village welcomed people from everywhere who came searching for the illusive monster. Instead of taking in the tourist sites, the boat trips and visitor centres, we bought a little walkers guide book from the Information Centre, and took off on a walk into the woods. Before we’d gone very far we got talking to a friendly local man who told us of an alternative walk, through the impressive woodland with its giant Sequoas and redwoods, and up onto the hill for a view across Loch Ness. The walk was deserted, for a whole hour and half, we walked uphill, stopping to listen to the silence of the woodland, getting excited at spotting a red squirrel in the trees, and taking in the beauty of our surroundings until we reached the top. We couldn’t have anticipated the view in the clear sunshine across the Loch. It was truly tremendous.

The view across Loch Ness from the top of the hill

Back in the village we stopped for tea and cake and visited one of the many gift shops to buy a souvenir of our stay, before heading back to the hotel to change out of our hiking clothes, and into something suitable for a Scottish Ceilidh bar. 
Tartan and Argyle... obvs

We ventured out into the town and headed straight for an Indian Restaurant. It was one we had passed the night before, and the smell of fresh curry had enticed us back, alas it had also enticed much of Inverness and so it wasn’t possible to get a seat. We carried on perusing, and went to a different Indian restaurant called Cinnamon. It was bustling. We had a gorgeous feast and left hardly able to walk we were that full.

Up at Hootenanny, it had already started to get busy so we bought ourselves a pint of local ale and hovered for a while, until we were able to bag a seat on the end of a table with a group of gregarious Italian holiday makers. They couldn’t speak a great deal of English, but they could speak more English than we could Italian. Somehow we managed to communicate anyway and it made for a very fun start to the night. Soon the band were tuning up their bagpipes and accordions, and at 9.30 the music started. It was lively Scottish folk music that just made you want to tap your foot and sing along (if only I knew the words) you could tell the locals in the bar since they were the ones doing the traditional Scottish dancing on the dancefloor. The bar was packed with Americans, Chinese and Australian tourists as well as locals old and young, but from our cosy little corner on the table of Italians, we had a great view of the shenanigans.

It was a perfect end to a perfect day of new sights and experiences. We snuggled down, content, but excited for what the next day would bring.

1 comment:

Kezzie said...

Oooh, I love ceildhs-how amazing to go for this occasion!!!! Your photos make me long to explore Scotland!!!Xx