Loch Ness and Urquhart Castle
Jul 18, 2013
|We stayed overnight in a B&B. It was a bit sad. The man had lost his wife to cancer some 6 months ago, and is now running the place on his own (his words. his daughter turned up next morning and is obviously doing some of the domestic work.) WE got into conversation as he had lived for a time in Fleet, and that was the address given for Alyssa. He said he doesn't look forward to visitors, as it is stressful, but he needs them otherwise he'd sink into total despondency. (which accounted for the slight feeling of coldness when we arrived!) However as he warmed up, we got information on places to go; the benefits of using booking.com over many others, some of which charged 25% of the accommodation amount, hence prices would rise too. There were other guests; a Scotsman about to walk up Ben Nevis (not the steep climbing side)4 Americans, all on their way to a farming conference in Poland. These are held every second year in a different country and they always go, connecting up with others they've met before and doing some other touring wither before or after. They too gave us useful information.
We explored Fort William and bought some supplies. This sounds easy but we had seen Morrisons the previous night and gone round on circles trying to locate an entrance; not only couldn't do that, we lost the shopping centre! So today we did much better; we could now see where Morrisons was we still didn't see the driveway entrance!
Onto Lake Ness, driving all the way up the North side over the next two days.
One of 1000 bridges Telford built in Scotland, largely for defence purposes.
This area is beautiful; the stunning, very large Loch; wildflowers on the verges; forests all around AND it is sunny (occasionally not a plus, as the humidity got to us)And streams and waterfalls.
Then it was off to Urquhart Castle. I think I expected a bit more castle, rather than ruins of what must have once been a very extensive castle. But again, the warring factions come into the story again.
When Jennie came here with Bevan some years ago, they rounded a corner and there it was in its ruinous glory. They had the place virtually to themselves. Now there are hundreds coming in by car, coach and boat. And there is a very informative educational centre with of course a shop attached.
A short movie was the climax of the Educational information. Very useful though if you asked me which group was fighting which, and when I still couldn't tell you exactly!Suffice to say there were attacks from different groups, both local and English, over the centuries.
The last occupants blew it up to stop it being overrun and used as a fort by their enemy. The gun powder blasted one key section and it went skywards. As the dust began to settle the screen went up, the curtain opened and there was the crumbling ruin. Very dramatic!
This Trebuchet is a reproduction which works. They tried it out and it hurled a boulder 200 metres at 126 miles per hour
The castle position was very strategic; water on two sides, and views up all water access areas
The piper added the final dramatic touch
I climbed to the top, though its nowhere nearly as high as it had been
Next stop was the Loch Ness Information Centre.
This was a fantastic educational set up. We passed through a series of cave like rooms, connected by tunnel type passages. The first was the creation of the highlands when the land mass was below the equator, then the seismic movement which split the land pushing one part along the other, creating Lochs. in more recent times there were the myths and stories in folk legends, about a very large fish or monster in the lake and finally to this century when Nessie was 'born' after a 1930's report of a sighting of a long neck and then another person saw the humps. Then onto the scientific investigations. One experiment was a test with a stick floating upright in water; 84 of 100 saw a stick others described long neck head snake like etc.
An interswting lot of experiments that showed what was proably seen (boat waves creating humps; reflections; movement of heated layer of water across loch, moving upward, pushing logs upright etc
And then onto other investigations that used core samples from the mud floor, so changes in the habitat of the lake including changes in weather patterns and pollution levels (including nuclear fallout) Very, very interesting.
And of course outside there were the mandatory flowers
This shop has to be seen to be believed! One room is Nessy Land.
We sat outside and had a snack, and admired this tartan rugged van