Hi guys and gals! Or I suppose I should say lassies and laddies, as we’re going to Scotland for today’s Travel Tuesday linkup with the Bonnie Rose! I’m thinking that pretty much anyone that’s been by this blog lately now has an idea of how I feel about Scotland (as in it is my place in the world – if only I could get there full time!). This time next week I’ll actually be roaming the streets of Edinburgh and a very happy girl!! For this upcoming trip we’ll be exploring the mid/central part of the country, which is a totally new area for me. My past excursions in the country have all been in the Highlands, so I thought that’s where we’d go today!
My interest in this country was first peaked when I came across the Outlander series by Diana Gabaldon. Yes, these are fictional books. However, Gabaldon is a scientist by training and does her research incredibly well, so a lot of the information depicted in the books is pretty darn accurate. And what better way to learn a little history than couched in a fabulous story?? The British Isles are steeped in story-telling traditions, so in my mind learning through historical fiction is justified. But I digress… So I read the books and fell in love with the idea of Scotland – especially as I have a bit of Scottish in my roots. When I studied abroad in college, a long weekend in Edinburgh was on the agenda and I knew it was my opportunity. While most of my classmates spent their days in the pubs or wandering up and down the royal mile (which I also did briefly), I convinced a couple of the other girls to take a train up to Inverness. We hired a wonderful taxi driver for the day and made our way to Loch Ness (their condition for coming along) before heading over to Culloden field (my primary purpose in going north). Thanks to our super helpful and informative taxi driver, we got to see our two primary spots and several that we didn’t even know existed! It was, to me, the beginning of a great love affair.
I’ve returned to the Highlands again twice since that initial trip and I fall more in love each time. This next trip will be my first time back in over 5 years. In a way it feels like returning home after a long absence, and I’m a bit nervous that I’ll find my feelings changed somehow. Only time will tell.
Today, however, I want to focus on the Highlands, particularly I think we’ll go with Loch Ness for this post. I want to take my proper time with this country, and not rush the beauty.
Loch Ness is probably most famous for Nessie, its resident “monster.” The Loch Ness monster is supposedly a large, unknown animal that inhabits the loch and pops up to intrigue tourists from time to time. The first spotting to make international headlines was in 1933. Since then there has been no shortage of grainy photos and debatable camera footage claiming to depict the creature. It makes for a great story and it’s fun to imagine spotting the creature while enjoying the loch.
Loch Ness itself runs southwest from Inverness for approximately 23 miles. It is the second largest loch in Scotland by surface area (second to Loch Lomond), but the largest by volume due to its depth. Loch Ness contains more freshwater than all of the lakes in England and Wales combined!
Along the banks of Loch Ness you will find Urquhart Castle. The current castle ruins date back from the 13th to 16th century and have a storied history. The Castle is one of the largest and most visited in Scotland. It played a key part in the Scottish struggle for independence going back and forth between local clans and the Crown before being largely destroyed in the late 1600s to prevent its use by Jacobite rebels. There are also quite a few romantic stories associated with the castle. If you’re out for a visit to Loch Ness, the views from the castle ruins alone make it worth a stop. The history of the castle makes it worth taking your time.