Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Loch Ness, Part 1

Inverness is the "gateway to"/"capital of" the Scottish Highlands, and it's right at the head of Loch Ness. Loch Ness is perhaps best known for the alleged "Loch Ness Monster", a cryptid believed by some to A) exist, and B) to be a remnant from the age of dinosaurs. Other than that... Uh... Well, there's not a whole lot going on in Inverness, that's the honest truth of it. I passed through Inverness twice in 2004, once on the way to Aberdeen to board the ferry to Orkney, and once on my way back down south from Orkney. I don't think I ever actually left the train station. Since Inverness is only a couple of hours away by train, I've been meaning to take a quick day trip there for a while now. On Saturday, I finally went.

Anyway, I had a look at the Inverness entry on Wikitravel, which gave me a like to the Jacobite tour company. I called them on Friday, and an extremely friendly and informative woman informed me of their tour times for Saturday, then informed me that my bus driver would be Kenny, and then informed me that he had blue eyes. My response? "Right, got it, if I meet Kenny and he has brown eyes, I'll know it's a trap!"

I didn't get to the train station quite as early as I'd hoped, and ended up having to wait for the noon train. I killed some time, and made it to the train in time to get a table seat. The scenery was great, running from Aberdeen through Dyce, Inverurie, Insch, Huntly, Keith, Elgin, Forres, and Nairn before terminating in Inverness. I called the tour company, confirmed the time when the tour would end, and reserved a seat on the 18:13 train back to Aberdeen, then went in search of the tour bus. The young lady at the counter at the bus station informed me that the bus had just left, but that I could catch it, and gave me a map telling me where to go. I got to the stop literally just in time, met Kenny (it wasn't a trap), and was off on the tour.

The tour started off here, where we boarded the Jacobite Legend. After hanging out on the lower observation deck for a while, I went up to the upper, open observation deck. It was a cold, Windy day on Loch Ness, because it's Scotland and it's March, but I was pretty okay with that. I got some pictures of the scenery, the boat, and myself. Somehow without warning, we arrived at Urquhart Castle, which is where I'll pick up the next time.

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