europe,  scotland,  travel

Here be monsters – Day 9


We slept so well that we almost overslept, waking up just 5 minutes before we’d scheduled to have breakfast. We hurriedly made ourselves presentable and stumbled out to the kitchen/dining area. Our host had prepared a lovely breakfast for us according to our requests—David was feeling meat-heavy, opting for black pudding, bacon and haggis, while I went with a poached egg, mushrooms, sausages and a potato scone. It was all super delicious, and we were glad to get a hearty meal in us before our driving day. We were out the door by 10 am and quickly filled up with gas, as the prices were relatively inexpensive on the island (1.29/L), surprisingly enough. We determined that we were doing about 40 miles to the gallon, which was pretty amazing considering all the twisty roads we’d been navigating.

We headed off the island in the direction of Inverness but with the plan to take a slightly more indirect route on a coastal road through some pretty small towns. Much of the road was marked as an A road with passing places (yesterday’s was a B road with passing places), which was mercifully wider and in most places two lanes. We wound our way along a series of beautiful lochs until we reached the village of Sheildaig. We popped into the local inn for a coffee along with a fruit scone with cream (which was delicious) before continuing on our way. The terrain was getting increasingly windswept and barren, and it wasn’t long until the road narrowed to being a truly single-track road. This time it wasn’t so nerve-wracking, as it was relatively less trafficked and you could see the road ahead for a fair ways.

Because we were in such lonely country, we were able to drive slowly and spend time marveling at the rugged landscape, primarily populated by shrubs and rock. David noted that the area looked like rock giants had been battling for a thousand years there. Occasionally, there were also patches of bizarre looking trees, which I felt looked like they should be in a Dr. Seuss book. We finally reached the village of Kinlochewe, which marked the end of the small roads. We stopped in at a café for a bit of lunch and were glad that we did. We had a super tasty cream of tomato soup along with ham and cheese sandwiches on some thick, rustic bread. Rejuvenated by our meal, we continued onwards towards Loch Ness. I figured we should probably swing by to take a look at the famed Loch Ness, since we were in fact in the area. The roads were luxuriously wide and comfortable, and we were flying along at a good clip (60 miles per hour is actually appropriate for these roads).

We stopped by Urquhart Castle for our views of Loch Ness. The ruins of the castle were perched on the banks of the loch. We didn’t want to pay to roam the castle grounds, so we walked up the hill a ways out of the car park to get a good vantage point. Many jokes were had about ripples in the water, and whether we’d miraculously catch sight of the elusive prehistoric monster where so many others had failed (sadly not). From there, we headed up towards Inverness, and we were soon swimming through roundabouts and an amazing amount of traffic, thankfully mostly going in the opposite direction. We had a bit of time to kill before our check-in time, and we wanted to stock up on food. Incredibly, we just happened to find an Aldi. We grabbed cheeses, crackers and bubbles, along with a bottle of no-name brand Scotch whisky. David was absolutely tickled at the prospect of drinking generic brand whisky, particularly in light of the fact that he was going whisky tasting the very next day at some very nice distilleries.

From Inverness, it wasn’t far to the hamlet of Inverarnie where we’d be staying for the night. We drove around the picturesque farming area for a bit before heading up to Birch Cottage B&B. It was definitely a rural retreat, as we drove off through a field to get there. We were met at the gate by our host who showed us around the house. It was certainly nothing fancy, but it had everything we needed (though the wifi was a bit spotty). It was quiet and peaceful and had a lovely conservatory in which we could relax and enjoy the sunset. We supped on our cheese and crackers and enjoyed our drinks (even the generic brand whisky, which D said tasted like Johnny Walker) and had a quiet evening in.

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