by Melanie and Jim
We enjoyed our time in Scotland. The people are friendly. The history is rich. The countryside is beautiful. Our previous posts about our trip will remind us of the highlights each time we revisit them. We hope you have enjoyed them. This post is about a few aspects we found interesting that didn’t fit into the narrative of the earlier ones.
The City of Inverness
Situated on the northeast coast, Inverness opens to Moray Firth and then the North Sea. The River Ness flows from Loch Ness 12 miles (19 km) away and through the center of Inverness. The first claimed sighting of the Loch Ness Monster was in the River Ness in AD 565. We stayed in the city of 47,000 for two days prior to our barge holiday on the Caledonian Canal. We never saw the monster.
Memorable moments in Inverness include a wonderful dinner at an Indian restaurant, recommended by our Airbnb host. We also remember visiting in a pub with local men about US politics; experiencing the very final performance of a senior-level bagpipes competition; overhearing a pre-teen boy use the “f” word incorrectly (and being tempted to tell him he shouldn’t use it until he knows how); and witnessing and helping an older lady who tripped in the street right in front of us.
This town of about 10,000 sits on the southwest coast and opens to the Atlantic Ocean. It serves as the starting point of the Caledonian Canal, the hiking and biking routes of the Great Glen Way, and as a ski center in the winter. The highest point in the British Isles Ben Nevis sits next to Fort William.
We walked Fort William’s main street several times, wandering in and out of shops, the history museum, and the graveyard. We spoke at length with one young woman and found, as we have in other places, there is often an Iowa connection. At one restaurant Melanie had a culinary favorite of the trip, a bowl of Cullen Skink.
The highlands provide a rich variety of beauty. Lists of the highest points enable hikers to complete sets of climbs. The rivers and streams between them offer lush glens of trees and rushing water. The clean waters provide fishing and serve as sources for the many distilleries in the highlands. Our driver during the whisky tour stopped at many of these beautiful places so we could stretch our legs and enjoy a short walk and the views.
The stops had a variety of bathroom accommodations. At some, an attendant needed to be paid for entry. At another, a donation was requested from those not taking a paid tour. At the ski lodge, the ladies room had no electrical light. At all. Fortunately there was a tiny window that allowed just enough light to find a stall, and go from there.
Scotland is a land of surprises. We feel very fortunate to experience so much of it in our short trip, and we’ll look forward to going again some day.