My weekend in Scotland with Dad & Mary started on Saturday with a neck-craning 10 hour train ride from Reading, which included scenes of fields literally crawling with bunnie wabbits, two deer, cows and sheep ad nauseum, pheasants, herons, swans, and small song birds. I went up the west side of the country, through the hilly and Muskoka-like Lake District (filled with rock walls and streams, and loads of coniferous trees) and through the cities of Glasgow and Perth to Inverness.
The weather was clear and sunny for most of the trip, with a few impressive thunderclouds turning the sky black and orange as we entered the Highlands just past Glasgow. We passed the highest rail point in Scotland while in the Highlands, an incredible area of sheep, streams, rock, gorse bushes and steep hills.
Arriving in Inverness, Dad met me with a pleasant surprise... a sporty light blue Hyundai Coupe, our rental car for the weekend. The beauty was brand spanking new with only 25 miles on the tac, fully loaded.... oooooh what a fun car to learn how to drive on the left side of the road on! Navigated my first roundabouts etc. with no issues and lots of fun :D
We arrived at the castle to meet Mary and headed out for dinner after I checked in. My room was adorable, a tiny tiny little en suite with a bathtub (no shower!) and a wee 1 foot square dormer window overlooking a field of sheep (whos baa's lulled me to sleep)! The room was amazing and cozy, about 8 feet square but very comfy and bright. So we headed out for dinner to a great little restaurant in the middle of nowhere, then drove down the Moray Firth a bit to a spot and looked out over the water. After coming back to the castle we took a walk around the gardens and grounds, ending up chasing sheep with our cameras in the field out back, jumping streams and following trails in the bush to a quiet river and then back to the castle.
After a good night's sleep we headed to Cawdor Castle, then to Glen Affrick, Plodda Falls, and Urquhart Castle on Loch Ness! We then had dinner near the Loch, and headed home for a well-needed rest. Monday we drove to the station, I said goodbye to my blue baby, and we headed for Edinburgh (me in my assigned seat, and Dad and Mary, (who had to wait in another line because of our tickets, who made it on the train by prayer and supplication) to first class! :) The train was so full of teens heading home after the Rockness concert, they almost didn't make it on, but God of course had an even better plan in mind... So we made it to Edinburgh, I found them again, and we had a bite to eat before I headed home down the east coast.
My train was an hour late getting to Reading due to delays by a train further up the line that caught on fire near Leeds, and then signalling issues near Birmingham. Blah. But Drew was really good about it, and met me on the platform, and we drove home where he had (gasp) cleaned the flat, done laundry, and had a candle lit game of Phase 10 set up on our patio. :) So all in all, one of the more memorable and enjoyable trips I've had in our entire venture abroad!
The Highlands from the train
A loch from the train
Southern part of the Moray Firth, fog rolling in amidst sun!
Moray Firth coastline
Dad & Mary
So in love...
Kilravock (pronounced Kilrock) Castle from the side
Bench on the Kilravock grounds
River running through the back of the Kilravock property
The river with Dad & Mary
Sheep's wool on the fence behind the castle (bunches were on trees and the grass, too.) The term "wool-gathering" came from the time when people would collect wool from fields and sell it, it was a time consuming process. Or so my father told me, and as he once told me Petawawa was North American Indian for "pet the water", the historical accuracy of the wool story may be in question, but I think he is right. :)
Scenic backyard, eh?
Looking from the sheep field towards the castle (middle, top)
Eerie, eh? (Castle in top rightish)
A bit clearer view
This guy kind of looked like "You want a piece of me?! You want a piece of me?!?!"
Forging our own trails
One of my windows
Chair & table made out of branches at Cawdor Castle
Even an old moat and drawbridge!
View of the left side
Me trying to fire an umbrella out the old musket holes
Eeee! A drawbridge!
Start of the Cawdor gardens
View towards the left side of the castle from the gardens
Castle in the distance
Bower of fragrant flowers
Castle from garden again
A light mist made all the flowers even more gorgeous and bright
Castle from the bottom right looking left
Fountain hidden away in a hedge
Back right of the castle from the creek behind it
Full back view of the castle from across the creek
View on the road from Glen Affrick to Plodda Falls
Part of Plodda Falls (the tiny part)
A soothing scene
The very crest of Plodda Falls, which fell at LEAST 100 feet, but we were too tired to trek to the very bottom, knowing we'd have to come back up :)
Dad and Mary blatantly rebelling against the warning signs ;)
Looking down (from the condemned bridge) over the falls
Bridge with part of the Glen Affrick behind (just a long glen, called the prettiest in Scotland)
Tiny pony on the way to Loch Ness
Making a new friend
Just lying around looking sheepish
Urquhart Castle on Loch Ness!
Me with devilish hair looking from the castle into the Loch (no Nessie that day, unfortunately)
Loch Ness looking south I believe, beautiful water, the largest loch (deep deep lake) in Scotland... If you see Nessie, please email me hehe
The castle ruins looking north
Large rock throwing catapult-like device recreated near the castle
The view from my back window at Kilravock
Me driving the Hyundai