We woke to overcast skies but at least it was dry, for now! Matt laid on a sumptuous breakfast spread which we chose to take in our room overlooking the loch. Then with bags packed and the roof down (guess who was wrapped up in mid-winter clothing!) we set off for a leisurely drive to Inverness.
We soon found ourselves in amongst some fantastic scenery, especially through Glen Coe, with the tops of the hills shrouded in cloud. Again we were blessed with relatively light traffic so made good progress while enjoying the views.
Our first stop was an unscheduled diversion to the Glen Nevis visitor centre in Fort William. Here we could see the mountain disappear into the clouds, except it wasn’t the mountain! What most people think is Ben Nevis actually isn’t; what you can see is Meall an t-Suidhe (pronounced … don’t ask!) which is only about half the height of Ben Nevis (not that it makes much difference when the top is covered in clouds!) Apparently the walk to the top of Ben Nevis takes about four hours, but we decided to give it a miss this time and head on our way.
Our luck with the traffic ran out, or so we thought! We hit a traffic jam out of Fort William which wasn’t moving; traffic was coming in the opposite direction but we weren’t moving. We surmised the traffic lights at some roadworks were malfunctioning, so Angela quickly found a diversion which a) was more interesting than the main road (somewhat reminiscent of the narrow alpine passes), and b) bought us back to the main road which was now free of traffic!
Our next stop was Fort Augustus on Loch Ness. We stopped for a photo opportunity and a bit of Nessie spotting. We’d intended to do more at Urquhart Castle but it was packed and they weren’t letting any more cars in, so we bypassed this stop and made directly for our hotel in Inverness.
We did a bit of the tourist stuff in Inverness, went up to the top of Inverness Castle and admired the view, looked in the rather small Inverness Cathedral, and then took a much longer-than-expected walk to the Ness Islands. By this time the sun was out and blazing, so when we finally got back to the hotel we were exhausted. Thankfully dinner was very close by!
Today we covered ‘only’ 127 miles in just over four and a half hours. Tomorrow we start the official North Coast 500 route. The weather forecast isn’t looking so good but this is Scotland where you get all four seasons in one day!
THE LAST WORD: Bircher Museli, tastes delicious, my stomach does not like cereals! Another reason to have the roof down! There are 90 steps to the top of the Castle (and 90 down again!) “we only covered 127 miles in 4 hours” that was the riverside walk to the Ness Islands and back! Still trying to find Andy’s sense of humour, but I haven’t checked all the bags yet, maybe they sell them in the kilt shop next door? There was a band of kilted men playing bagpipes to serenade us at dinner, fortunately they were about half a mile away! Not sure why Andy had me stand on a rock at Loch Ness, do you think it makes me look taller?