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Loch Ness view along trail to Urquhart Castle

Our first full day to delve into Scotland!  Since we had retired Saturday night around Scotland time after staying awake for about 40 hours, we arose a little late…but with no jet lag issues.  The day’s plan was simply to rendezvous with Chip and his adopted family for dinner at the Dores Inn, so we had the day to ourselves.  Due to our late start, we kicked things off by seeking lunch and enjoyed a wonderful meal at the Mustard Seed…though I was flabbergasted that my request for water (I knew that providing water was not a given, as I am accustomed to here in the States) ended up on the tab and cost me $3 US!

 

The next challenge was getting to Loch Ness without a vehicle.

Urquhart Castle on the banks of Loch Ness
  We had reserved a rental car to be picked up on Monday, which left us without wheels for the weekend.  We walked to Inverness Taxis, near the Mustard Seed, and soon secured the services of Dougie, a local born and bred in Inverness.  We asked Dougie to deliver us to Drumnadrochit, a village resting along Loch Ness.

 

Dougie was a treat, readily replying to the barrage of questions Kim & I posed around his biography and life in these environs.  The sad fact revealed by our discourse was that to get the Dores Inn would be a hefty taxi ride.  Despite being a mere three miles from Drumnadrochit as the crow flies…there are no bridges spanning Loch Ness and being on the opposite side, it was forty miles away (and by the way, they measure in distance by miles, not kilometers)!  However, Dougie deposited us and pledged faithfully to return at 5PM to pick us up for a bonus fare to Dores.

Another shot from Urquhart…revealing the enormity of Loch Ness

 

We were now in one of the planned destinations of our junket.  One of the hiking resources we consulted pointed out that there was a trail from town to Urquhart Castle, an ancient fortification constructed on the shores of Loch Ness.  But of course we were reeled in by the temptation by several tacky museums in town and plunked down eight pounds to check out one of the ‘monster exhibits’.  It was a total rip off, a short walk past a bunch of childish displays about Bigfoot, etc., that had nothing to do with Nessie.  Of course we weren’t too disappointed….just figured it was a Ness-esary evil!

 

Glad to be free of this monstrosity, we began our hike to Urquhart.

Urquhart Castle
  A meandering, pastoral path that began along fields of cattle, we soon completed an ascent and began descending into Loch Ness.  Absolutely stunning!  A totally alien landscape that was enticing…very green and exceptional to witness houses perched upon the wickedly steep inclines down into this glacial lake.  Didn’t encounter any human beings, but quite a lot of cattle!

The path was easy and it didn’t take too long to acquire Urquhart castle…and what a splendid treat!  The history of everything we read about in Scotland was replete with spilled blood…Urquhart being no exception.  But after plodding through fields of cattle, it was interesting to stumble upon a herd of human beings.  After paying admission, you wade into a beautiful theater that plays a short film around the history of this much trampled fortification along the banks of Loch Ness.

Urquhart Castle
  After enjoying the clip we wandered about the site and picked up several interesting tidbits around the history of the area.

After savoring this grand site we hiked back to Drumnadrochit with a major disappointment.  I had packed along my lightweight LL Bean hiking boots (I used to live in Maine and once upon a time worked at their store in Freeport) and put them on for the day’s hike, even though the trail mostly ran along a road and wasn’t necessary.  The soles actually dissolved during our trek and fell off!  Both boots!  I was going to return them, but it only dawned on me now several years later as I write this up that I simply deposited them in a Scottish trash can without any quibbles.

Regardless, Kim and I made it back to town and had some tea at a delightful café named Fiddlers.

Urquhart Castle
  Dougie arrived as promised and we had a new barrage of questions for him during our long and pricey taxi ride to Dores.  The best response was that I had picked up some variance in how folks pronounced these tedious town names and Dougie confirmed that there was no sacred pronunciation.  So don’t be afraid to attempt one of the perplexing village names…it shouldn’t be an embarrassment!

 

Dores Inn was a cool establishment.  The diner was an old home and I was a bit remiss we didn’t sit outside at one of the picnic tables affording a wonderful view of Loch Ness.  We all enjoyed sumptuous meals with the Cabana’s (Chip’s host family) and Chip and Kim raved about the sticky toffee pudding they had for dessert!
vances says:
Urquhart was definitely a highlight...just don't go into any of the tacky Loch Ness' museums!

:^)
Posted on: Apr 25, 2011
missandrea81 says:
Very nice. One of the items on our list. Am on the phone with my friend, planning our road trip.
Posted on: Apr 25, 2011
mellemel8 says:
i wanted to go here but, the tour was cancelled due to weather :(
Posted on: Aug 02, 2007
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Loch Ness view along trail to Urqu…
Loch Ness view along trail to Urq…
Urquhart Castle on the banks of Lo…
Urquhart Castle on the banks of L…
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Inverness
photo by: vances