The Story of Scotland, Part 3

by W. Andrew Powell

Nessy, is that you?

(Continued from Part 1 and Part 2.)

By this point in our trip we realized that the end was getting very close. We woke up late on May 26, almost missing breakfast, but managed to get up and out and on the road fairly quickly. Being in Loch Ness meant we couldn’t just wander around and leave of course – we figured we had to take in a few sites, so we went up to the visitor’s centre, posed with the statue of Nessy, bought a few things, and drove down to the remains of Urqhart castle. Situated right on the edge of the Loch we had a great view of the area, and got a few photos of what remains of the castle. (Aisha and I also went down to the edge of the water and stuck out hands in – one of those musts while your on Loch Ness.)

Urqhart Castle
Urqhart Castle

We reluctantly left the area though for one of my big goals on Scotland – a trip towards the Isle of Skye to see Eilean Donan Castle, or better known as the home of the McLeods in the movie Highlander.

It was a bit of a drive, and it took us the better part of the afternoon to get there and back again, but the scenery is amazing. The mountains are incredible, and when you come out between them near the castle you suddenly see the river (or is it a Loch?) opening up in front of you with the castle sitting right in the middle of the water. It’s a beautiful view and I couldn’t help but take about a dozen pictures from every angle along the bank.

Eilean Donan Castle
Eilean Donan Castle

We went inside and looked around the castle, ate at the cafe, bought a few things at the gift shop, and then headed back towards Strathyre where we’d be spending the next night. (And for the record I still need to go back at least once more to get some better shots of the castle. The sun wasn’t quite in the right spot, so I’m still missing that spectacular photo of Scotland’s most photographed castle.)

Drove for the rest of the afternoon, arriving in Strathyre around 7:30 to check in at the Munro Inn. The whole inn is just the coolest place we saw on the trip – there’s a bar with a coal fireplace and games room, a library with net access and printers, a lounge for meals (called the Observatory), and our room is probably one of the biggest we’ve had. We drop our things and go out for a quick walk, called our families, and then back inside, check email, get a few directions online, and then we grab a bite to eat in the bar.

The Munro Inn
The Munro Inn

After I took a break upstairs for a while (Aisha wasn’t tired so she watched Scottish TV) we went back downstairs to grab a few drinks, write in our journals, talk to the folks in the bar, and eventually I’m given the local recommendation – a dark brew and a shot of 15-year-old whiskey on the side. I’m no heavy drinker so it’s a bit strong for my tastes, but it is good – the beer brings out the woody flavour of the whiskey really well.

We end up closing the bar with the staff (who’ve been waiting for two months for this post) – Lee, Kate, and Josifek (who I’m not sure works there, or if that’s his name). After I finish my final pint, and we chat about how I’m writing about the trip and taking photos, Aisha and I head to bed and bid them good night. Definitely the best way I could imagine our near-final night in Scotland – great place, great people, and local beer.

Kate, Lee and Josifek
Kate, Lee and Josifek

Around 8:30 the next morning, May 27, Aisha and I wake up thanks to a staff member who acted as our friendly alarm clock, since we didn’t have one. We head down for a bit of breakfast, pack our bags, and end up meeting Lee (and Kate too I think) as we’re headed out to the car. We drive off before too late, make a quick stop in Callandar to satisfy my coffee urges, and end up at Doune Castle.

… more to follow.

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