Posted by: lindsaygoes | June 23, 2010

The search for Nessie

The Butt of Lewis

After Inverness we had a tour reshuffle so we sadly said goodbye to our first guide and seven of our group members and then got another 13 names to learn (plus a new guide).

From Inverness we headed off to the Black Isle (not black or an island so it doesn’t quite fit with the Scottish tradition of naming everything obviously) and the Clootie Well. The Clootie Well is thought to have magical properties and if the clothes of ill people are left there, as the clothing disintegrates so will the disease. I’m not sure why there were so many pairs of underwear though. After that we went to a lovely viewpoint. It was at the end of a little peninsula which was covered with a narrow golf course which had a road running right through the center of it. There were lots of signs for golfers to look out for the cars! We stopped in a little town for lunch and disappointingly couldn’t find any deep fried Mars Bars so we had to have a non-fried lunch. Then we had a lovely drive through Glen Affric, a glen full of native Scotland forest, which was quite different from the more barren highlands and went to Dog Falls where we had a lovely walk. I ended up last on the bus (not running late, it was a toilet stop) so I had to wear the bitch hat until the next stop. Then we stopped by Urquhart Castle on the banks of Loch Ness to take some photos. We didn’t stand on the wall to get the best views, we stood on walls. And I got stung by a nettle. It was sore. After that we made the final journey to Fort Augustus where we saw a highland clan show and learnt all about imaginative and cruel ways of killing people. Back at the hostel we all dressed up in kilts and played ‘photo bombing’ where you get into the background of other people’s photos. I’m in trouble next time I try and take photos!

The next day was a free day around Loch Ness so we got a bit of a sleep in, although I had to make it down for breakfast before nine. Unfortunately I couldn’t find any of the staff to collect my washing from the previous night and so I had to go to breakfast in my pyjamas. Then we did a bit of a cruise on the Loch, it was amazingly gorgeous; the water was so still with fantastic reflections. We didn’t see Nessie, but the boat did have some sonar and images of how deep the lake was underneath us which was fantastic. We sat on the side of one of the canals from the Loch and ate lunch in the sun (I’m still surprised) and then had a bit of a walk around town.

Later that night we went on a RIB (rigid inflatable boat) on the Loch and it was awesome! We had spectacular views of the Loch and surrounding hills and went all the way to the end. On the way we had fun crossing the other boat’s wake and enjoying the bumps. Once we got to the end we had a delicious dinner and I tried someone else’s haggis (not terrible) and then headed back and got to sit on the side of the boat and enjoy the bumps even more. Then we stopped in the middle of the Loch in front of Urquhart Castle where other people drank whisky and I admired the view – which was stunning!

The next day we made our way back through Inverness (for the third time), then stopped in Invermoriston to see a lovely waterfall and then went to an organic beer brewery (Black Isle Brewery for those interested).  It’s surprising how many wineries and breweries I’ve visited, being a non drinker. Then we had a picnic at Rogie Falls and I managed to cover myself in Irn-Bru as the bottle had got a bit shook up on the bus and the walk up! Next it was another waterfall at Corrieshalloch Gorge, which was lovely and then Ardmair Beach which was full of stones, as well as boys throwing stones. The weather was so nice that I spent most of the day in a t-shirt (my brand new Nessie t-shirt which I am very proud of!)

Then we had a boat ride over to the Island of Lewis and got there in the evening, so no further sightseeing for the day. We decided to head out into town (which consists of a couple of streets) but had to leave the first two bars because we got stared out of there. Eventually we found one were we felt more comfortable and proceeded to annoy the few locals in there until it closed when we moved to the only other bar in town which was open (this was only at midnight) which was a little weird. I’m not sure what the point of the drunken sixty-four year old’s story was, or why the bar maid gave me a free drink. Small towns hey!

Today we started off at Calanais Stones which were stunning. We had loads of fun taking photos hiding behind them until it started raining (don’t live up to your reputation for bad weather Scotland. You’ve been so good so far!). Then we got to sort of hide inside when we visited some traditional black houses and saw some Harris tweed weaving. Next it was on to Doune Broch an old kind of fort/village kind of thing. They had very small passageways – even I had to duck! Then we had lunch on the bus because it wasn’t good picnic weather, but then it cleared up a bit and we went to the Butt of Lewis (the most northerly point of the Hebrides), which had spectacular views with gorgeous cliffs and some seals (I got a picture of a speck in the water if no one believes me!) and then on to a beach which if the weather had been warm, would have been packed, because it was gorgeous!

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