Yesterday (Sunday) was our day of rest. Our crew (Little, hubby and myself along with my brother and his delightful partner) met up with our buddies from Seattle, the Gray family. We slept in, figured out the castle, went grocery shopping in Aviemore, developed our Dungeon and Dragon characters (Shhhh!), planned for Thanksgiving and listened to the Seahawks beat the Eagles on the radio. I won’t consider it a day wasted as we needed to recharge and the sheep and castle provided plenty of company and culture. Also, Jason introduced us to Irn Bru, Scotland’s second most popular beverage.
Our goal today was a simple one: Loch Ness and Nellie. One of Little’s favorite movies is “The Waterhorse.” We planned on heading to Inverness first to have lunch with all of friends staying at the castle and then over to the Loch. Inverness is the biggest city nearby; about 30 miles away and has a wonderful foodie culture and lots of choices for our pescetarian-vegan-eat everything crew.
Inverness is a northern town in every way. It’s been a place of epic battles between local clans and invaders from Norway; capitol of the Pictish people, the place of Jacobite revolts and where Mary Queen of Scots was once denied access to the castle. It’s a cold, hard, proud and beautiful town, with the river Ness running through it. We checked out the Victorian Market but because of the time of year, many things were closed. Not the bagpipe store or the ghillie shirt shop (no, really.)
We sat down to lunch at a delightful Turkish place where the owner tried his best Jersey accent on us and told us that there were only three blocks to Inverness really, and nothing much to do there but shop. Since shopping isn’t really our thing, we decided to walk around and explore the churches. We found a church of Scotland, a Roman Catholic church and two “Free North” churches.
After a few hours walking around, we jumped back into the car, toes freezing ready to drive to Loch Ness and check out Urquart Castle. The drive was pretty and you could tell you were near because of the volume of Nellie stores – Nellie stuffies! Nellie learning center! Nellie postcards! Nellie Café!
While the castle was closed (this is the big challenge with November touring), it was wonderful to see as the sun was coming down. We watched for a while but the cold proved to be too much so we jumped back into the car to drive back to our home, Muckrach Castle. Tomorrow we are planning on a full day driving the Isle of Skye.