Journal Entry #14
June 29, 2003
My parents and I arrived home (my home in Glasgow, I mean) from our "Scotland Tour" last night. We had a spectacular trip and almost perfect weather. Only one day did it really rain, and another it was more cloudy...but the remaining days were quite sunny and warm (reaching 25.5°C at one point). We rented the car (a silver Vauxhall Astra, automatic with 1.6L engine) on Monday at noon. From the rental car place in the city centre we drove to Costco (off of Springburn Road). It was very scary! Dad did a good job driving, but it was still scary at first (remember that in the UK we drive on the left hand side of the road, on the right hand side of the car). We bought a few things at Costco and ate lunch there. Then we drove to IKEA at the Braehead Centre, where we bought a few more things. We next drove out to Cochno Farm near Hardgate, where we took many pictures and talked with the farm manager, Davy. On the way home we hit the grocery store to buy things for our 4-night Scotland Tour. I will include the Edinburgh trip in this Scotland tour. We went to Edinburgh via train on June 20th through 22nd (just prior to renting the car).
We left my place in Bearsden, Glasgow on Tuesday, June 24th. We drove up to Inverness, stopping in Perth for lunch. We immediately went to our B&B in Muir of Ord, just to the north east of Inverness. The B&B was wonderful and we had 2 rooms with a private bathroom. This B&B was called Seallidh Coille. After checking in and resting for a bit we drove to Drumnadrochit, a tiny village/town on Loch Ness. We visited the tourist shops (offering thousands of Nessy souvenirs) and bought a couple of things. See the picture of my Dad wearing the red-hair tartan cap! We then drove around the bend to Urqhart castle, which was closed. But we could view the castle and take lots of pictures of Loch Ness. I saw a few birds there (I'm now becoming more of a birdwatcher) that I identified. Dinner was at Johnny Foxes (pub and restaurant) in Inverness. It was an excellent meal and reasonably priced.
The next morning we had a walk through the forest across the street from the B&B. We found a small farm shop where we picked our own strawberries...2 baskets full! I had never picked strawberries before. It was a really sunny day and we had a great time. We gave 1 basket of strawberries to the B&B hosts (they were really nice). We left later than planned (so were stressed a bit) and drove north to reach Tongue (at the very top of Scotland). We stopped in Tain to buy some lunch, get some petrol, and take the Glenmorangie distillery tour (my dad really enjoyed that). We did buy some whisky, too. There were some wonderful coastal views the entire day. We stayed at the Rhian Guest House in Tongue, where we had a beautiful view of Ben Loyal (a mountain peak). We ate in a local village for dinner (it was so-so, not as good as the previous night).
Thursday brought more driving. We drove from Tongue to the Isle of Skye. We almost ran out of petrol at one point (and were in the middle of nowhere), but luckily found a one-pump station. We stopped in Ullapool (a West coast town) for lunch, eating fish, scampi and chips. We were worried about making it to the B&B at a reasonable hour, but had no problems. We arrived around 5:30pm. The views of Skye were spectacular and Skye was probably the most enjoyable destination of all. There was a herd of highland cows and their calves that kept hogging the road between Elgol and our B&B (Rowan Cottage, now highly recommended by us). It was a single lane road for 15 miles to reach Elgol, so quite slow-going. You had to be careful not to hit any sheep or cows, which tended to just wander onto the road. We almost didn't get dinner since we were way out in the country, but luckily our B&B hostess got us reservations at the local restaurant. We had seafood for dinner, with Mom and Dad having the halibut steaks and I had the scallops. The food was perfect.
Friday we drove to Portree, one of the main towns on Skye. There were beautiful views the whole way, even though it was raining all day. After some shopping we left Skye to reach Fort William for a late lunch. We viewed Eilean Donan castle on the way. We did some more shopping in Fort William and then drove through Oban to reach Tarbert, our final destination. The B&B was also excellent there. It was surrounded by midges though! I'm glad my parents got to discover the charms of midges (little biting no-see-ums). Tarbert is a little fishing village.
Saturday we left the B&B and headed towards Campbelltown. I wanted to visit the Springbank distillery there. Sadly, I had not done my homework and we discovered that the distillery only offered private tours (and we hadn't called ahead). There was a beautiful beach in between Tarbert and Campbelltown that we enjoyed, though. We also stopped at Skipness castle (just south of Tarbert) on the way back to Glasgow. It was a ruined castle that was in fairly good shape...you could even walk up the stairs and into 2 rooms. It was kind of creepy to go inside a castle like that, you'd expect to find ghosts! The location of Skipness castle was right on the coast as well, so it was quite picturesque. The final place we stopped was Inveraray. We viewed the castle and some more highland cattle, then ate lunch and did some shopping. After unpacking at home, we drove to Milngavie for dinner at the West Highland Gate pub.
This afternoon we drove to the Glengoyne distillery (quite local) and had a tour. It was a nice tour and not too repetitive of other distillery tours. We ate lunch at a nearby cafe. It has been another beautiful day today, with the sun shining and blue skies. We turn the car in tomorrow by noon and hope to spend the remainder of the day in Glasgow's city centre.
This is my last journal entry for the 2nd year in Scotland. I will be leaving to go home on July 4th. I plan on working this summer at the animal hospital, and spending the remainder of my time exercising and dieting. :)
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