Highland Tour, Day 7

Today was the last day of the tour, and I was a bit sad for multiple reasons.  One, I love Scotland, and would like to spend more time there in the future.  Two, I also got along really well with the other tour members.  I was a bit worried before I started, I was going to be spending 7 whole days with complete strangers, but most people were travelling alone and everyone was lovely to hang with.  It worked well.

We crossed the Skye Bridge that morning, and made our way to Eilean Donan Castle, the most recognized castle in Scotland.

We then made our way to The Commando Memorial, dedicated to all Commandos who lost their lives in the 1939-1945 War.

We had a quick stop in Glencoe, to learn about the Glencoe Massacre, in which the MacDonald clan was killed by the Campbells (who were their guests).

We drove by a bridge that looks remarkably like the one from Harry Potter but wasn’t.

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We stopped by Callander, to see my dear friend Hamish the Highland Cow.

And finally headed to the William Wallace Monument near Stirling Castle. Built in 1861, this is the tallest monument in the world for someone who isn’t Jesus. I had been to Stirling Castle on my last day tour in Scotland, but we didn’t make it to the memorial, so it worked out perfectly for me.

We eventually made our way back to Edinburgh (my fifth visit to this city).

I wandered around that evening, before heading to the bus depot, as I was taking an overnight bus to London.  Sounds like fun!

Highland Tour, Day 4

Day 4 was my favourite day, and not just because it was my 21st birthday!

We started at Dundreggan Estate, which is a site for Trees for Life’s forest restoration project.  Part of the tour was to give back to the community, so we stopped by to plant a few trees.

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Next we went to Invermoriston Falls. This river actually tumbles into Loch Ness, and was the perfect morning walk.  We also saw J.M. Barrie’s (author of Peter Pan!) old summerhouse, which gave us a bird’s eye view of the river and Telford Bridge.

We stopped briefly back at Loch Ness to go to the world’s most touristy tourist shop, and got one last view of the lake.

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Our next stop was very special to me, for they surprised me with a birthday cake! We were at Rogie Falls taking a quick lunch break before hiking to the falls, and our guide pulled a cake out to celebrate me!

And I guess the falls were pretty too.

This was a long day, for we’ve many more sites to hit.  The next one, Corrieshalloch Gorge, I will never forget.  It was so stunning. There’s a bridge you can cross to get to the lookout area, but only 6 people are allowed on it at a time.  It was very high, and more wobbly than I would have liked, but just stunning.  Sometimes natures is pretty great to be around.

Our next stop was Ardmair Beach, a stone beach on the edge of the Scotland. I practised my rock throwing, put a couple in my bag, made a mini stonehenge and then continued on our way.

Our last stop on the mainland of Scotland was at Ullapool, which is where you catch the ferry to the Isle of Lewis and Harris (about 2.5 hours long). And that’s exactly what we did.  We spent the night in Stornoway, on Lewis, in preparation for tomorrow’s exploration.

Highland Tour, Day 3

Day 3 was spent exploring the area around Loch Ness.

The Loch Ness monster was first ‘spotted’ in 565AD by St. Columba.  His boat was untied and floated in the lake, so he hired a servant to go get it.  And the servant was attacked by a monster!  He brought out his cross and banished the monster.

It was most famously seen in 1933 when a surgeon photographed the lake and saw something in the developed film.

Unfortunately it was a bit of a gloomy day, so I decided to walk into town and by the canal, instead of going for a boat ride on the lake.

And that night I watched Braveheart for the first time.  Kinda appropriate to watch it in Scotland, don’t you think?

Highland Tour, Day 2

Day 2 started with a visit to Moray Firth, which had gorgeous beaches, and is apparently a great spot for dolphin sightings. It was a perfect spot to wake up.

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Then to make sure we were fully awake, we went for a hike to a Clootie Well.  Known as a place of pilgrimage in Celtic times, there’s a belief that if you hang the clothing of sick on the trees beside the well, the disease will disappear as the cloth disintegrates.

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And then it was time for history! We stopped in the town of Beauly to see an old priory. Built 800 years ago, there would have been up to 20 monks here, living off the land.

As beautiful as Beauly is, nothing will top Glen Affric.  It’s the finest of all of Scotland’s glens, and is seriously stunning. We took a little hike over the river, and just enjoyed being outside (which is not somewhere I particularly like to be).

Our last stop of the day was to Urquhart Castle, where we were given a demonstration on life in the medieval ages.

Finally we checked in to our hostel in Loch Ness just in time for a pub night at our hostel.  Isn’t it convenient when your accommodation is literally above the pub?

Highland Tour, Day 1

My next tour was a 7-day adventure across the Scottish highlands. This was definitely targeted to a younger demographic and was avery different experience from my last tour.  Both were great, just very different.

This time I went with Haggis Adventures, which had one bold bus.

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And I actually ended up being seat mates with a girl from Quebec — Canadians, we always find each other! Our day started with a view of the iconic Firth Bridge.

Scotland 1 (1).JPGThen we carried on to Dunkeld to see its mighty cathedral.

Our next stop was a somber one, at Culloden Battlefield. This is where the final confrontation of the Jacobite rising of 1725 took place (led by Charles Edward Stuart aka Bonnie Prince Charlie).

Finally, we ended the day in Inverness, where we all got to know each other a bit better.  Guesstimating, I’d say there was at least 30 of us, from all around the world, plus our guide and driver Carol.