Land of the Lochs

17:52 Alyson Tart 0 Comments

For our second bank holiday weekend, we trekked to Scotland with some friends to do some mountain climbing (more to come on this later!). Our trip followed a busy few weeks for me, meaning that the day we flew out to Scotland, I happened to be flying back from Istanbul.

Luckily, my flight arrived back in the same terminal I left from, making it easy to catch my flight. Unluckily, due to the emergency landing earlier in the day at Heathrow, out flight to Glasgow was extremely delayed, meaning there was no way I was going to miss my flight with hours to kill at the airport.  At 1 am, we finally found ourselves at our final destination and wandered across the street to our hotel for the night.

The next morning came too early for our sleepy selves, but we weren't going to be deterred - we were going to see Nessie!

I was particularly excited about this, because while I had visited both Glasgow and Edinburgh, I had never ventured outside of the cities to view the Lochs.

Our first loch spotting - Loch Lomond
 We had a 2.5 hour drive ahead of us, so we hit the road. We drove by loch after loch, including one called Loch Lochy, until we found ourselves finally at Loch Ness. The lake is larger than I expected it to be, and I found out that it is the largest body of fresh water in England. It stretches 23 miles North to South, and 1 mile wide.

Panorama of Urquhart Castle - I think I could have lived there

To get the best views of the loch, we visited Urquhart Castle. I wanted to visit a castle on our highlands trip, and as luck had it, this was the one we found.  It isn't so much a castle anymore as ruins, but perhaps this is better. Less obstruction for the views of the beautiful Loch Ness. During it's 500 year history as a medieval fortress, it was one of Scotland's largest castles. It held everyone from the English, to the Scots, and in its final years in the 15th and 16th centuries, it was a stronghold against invasions from the MacDonald Lord of the Isles.

Urquhart Tower, with the great dining hall ruins on the right
After we were rushed out at closing time, JUST missing the video on the history of the castle, we meandered back on the winding roads of the loch towards Glencoe, where we would stay the night.

Sunday - Ben Nevis day. That's all I will say for now, except for that I lived to tell the tale.

Monday was the last day of our holiday. We were tired from Sunday, all walking with an odd limp to our step, so we decided the perfect way to forget our fatigue was by partaking in one of the things Scotland is most well known for. Scotch, of course.

We toured the Glengoyne Distillery, one of the few distilleries that is still Scottish owned. Our tour started off with a sample of the 12 year scotch to put us in the mood for the rest of the tour. We walked around the distillery, seeing everything from the water source, to the malted barley, to wort, to the final product. It was interesting to compare it to the beer brewing process, and learn about the regulations that have taken place over time. In the early 1800's they paid something like £15 for a license to make scotch, or in current days, up to 75% of each bottle in taxes. We wrapped up the tour in the gift shop with a final sampling of the 15 year Scotch. My samples were more like tiny sips - I still haven't learned to appreciate a good Scotch, but the boys seemed to enjoy themselves. Fortunately, we had a brave designated driver. It was Sarah's first time driving in the UK and she was a good sport. I can't imagine having to drive in a car full of slightly intoxicated men, as they shout curb check!

Some of the equipment where the alcohol is taken out of the
barley not once, but twice
We made it safe and sound at the airport, with no (or at least little compared to Friday's) flight delays. I was ready to unpack my bags, and repack them again for Dallas, with a little bit of Scotch to share with my family.


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