Saturday, 11 April 2009

Haggis Tour of Scotland

It was my birthday weekend and also the long Easter weekend so I decided to take a trip away.

On Thursday night, after a birthday dinner with Pam, Louisa, Tim, Kim and Michael, I boarded an overnight bus to Edinburgh.

10 April 2009
My birthday - thanks to everyone who sent me cards, messages, text and packages I went to McDonalds that morning before my tour started and opened them all.

After breakfast and a quick refresh I headed to the tour office. There were a couple of buses and we were on the second bus with a small group of about 26 other people.

From Edinburgh we headed North through Pertshire. Our first stop was Dunkeld which is situated on the river Tay. After a quick look around we headed up through Drumochter Pass and the Ruthven Barracks.

Ruthven Barracks near Ruthven, Highland in Scotland are the smallest but best preserved of the four barracks built in 1719 after the 1715 Jacobite rising, set on an old castle mound. It comprises two large three-storey blocks occupying two sides of the enclosure each with two rooms per floor. The barracks and enclosing walls were loopholed for musket firing, and bastion towers were built at opposite corners.

My picture - I think the sky looks amazing -->

From here we headed to the Culloden Battlefield

The Battle of Culloden (16 April 1746) was the final clash between the French-supported Jacobites and the Hanoverian British Government in the 1745 Jacobite Rising. Culloden dealt the Jacobite cause—to restore the House of Stuart to the throne of the Kingdom of Great Britain—a decisive defeat.
We wandered around the battlefield and learnt some history before heading to Clava Cairns

Clava Cairn ----->

At Balnuaran of Clava itself there is a group of three
Bronze Age cairns which lie close together in a line running north east to south west. The tombs at either end are of the passage grave sub-type. The central cairn is of the ring cairn sub-type, and uniquely has stone paths or causeways forming "rays" radiating out from the platform round the kerbs to three of the standing stones.

That night we headed to our Haunted Highland Castle in Carbisdale - we didn't see any ghosts that night so decided to head to the pub instead.

< ----- Haunted castle

The pub was about a fifteen minute walk away and just managed to fit us all in. They had a local band playing the bagpipes and tin flutes. I got a free birthday drink and a happy birthday from the band!

Sam and Me - it was her birthday too - she turned 25

Saturday 11 April 2009
Today we boarded the bus and headed to Loch Ness to track down

Loch Ness is a large, deep, freshwater loch in the Scottish Highlands extending for approximately 37 km (23 miles) southwest of Inverness. Its surface is 15.8 metres (52 ft) above sea level. Loch Ness is best known for the alleged sightings of the legendary Loch Ness Monster, also known as "Nessie".

<----- Me, Kim, Casey and Sam

The Loch Ness Monster is a creature believed to inhabit Loch Ness in the Scottish Highlands. It is similar to other supposed lake monsters in Scotland and elsewhere, though its description varies from one account to the next. Popular interest and belief in the animal has fluctuated since it was brought to the world's attention in 1933. Evidence of its existence is largely anecdotal, with minimal and much disputed photographic material and sonar readings. The scientific community regards the Loch Ness Monster as a modern-day myth, and explains sightings as a mix of hoaxes and wishful thinking.

Our tour guide told us various stories and legends about the Loch Ness Monster. He said that one tour guide was standing with his back towards the lake and then heard a huge splash, they have also done sonar tests and seen big creatures under the water. The photo I have attached is the "Surgeon's Photo". The most famous photos of the sighting of the Loch Ness Monster. A book was written that the photo was a hoax and that it was a toy submarine with a sculpted head attached - but it was also said that the submarine was not invented until 12 years after this photo was taken ... who knows! I unfortunately didn't see it, but if you can provide a legitimate picture they is quite a big reward.

On the way down we passed the Urquhart Castle.

The magnificently situated Urquhart Castle, on the banks of Loch Ness, remains an impressive stronghold despite its ruinous state. Once one of Scotland’s largest castles, Urquhart’s remains include a tower house that commands splendid views of the famous loch and Great Glen.Urquhart witnessed considerable conflict throughout its 500 years as a medieval fortress and its history from the 13th to 17th centuries was particularly bloody. Following Edward I’s invasion, it fell into English hands and was then reclaimed and lost again. In the 14th century, it figured prominently in the Scots’ struggle for independence and came under the control of Robert the Bruce after he became King of Scots.

After stopping to see the castle we headed over to the Isle of Skye

Skye or the Isle of Skye is the largest and most northerly island in the Inner Hebrides of Scotland. The island's peninsulas radiate out from a mountainous centre dominated by the Cuillin hills. The island has been occupied since the Mesolithic and has a colourful history including a time of Norse rule and a long period of domination by clans Leod and Donald.

We stopped at heaps of places on the Iske of Skye to hear about legends, wars, faeries, and learnt the secret of eternal youth. Skye is beautiful and has lots of scenic lochs, mountains and waterfalls. I had to stop taking pictures!

Me Me getting blown of the Picture of the lake
cliff it was sooo windy with the clouds reflection

That night we stayed in a hostel on the Island and went to "Saucy Mary's" for a few drinks.

Sunday 12 April 2009
This morning we got up, some of us feeling better than others, and jumpted on the bus ready to go and explore Eilean Donan castle.

The original castle was built in 1220 for Alexander II as a defence against the Vikings. By the late 13th century it had become a stronghold of the Mackenzies of Kintail. In 1539 Iain Dubh Matheson, chief of the Clan Matheson died whilst defending the Castle on Eilean Donan island against the Clan MacDonald of Sleat on behalf of the Clan MacRae and Clan MacKenzie.In April 1719 the castle was occupied by Spanish troops attempting to start another Jacobite Rising. The castle was recaptured, and then demolished, by three Royal Navy frigates on 10–13 May 1719. The Spanish troops were defeated a month later at the Battle of Glen Shiel.It is now one of the most photographed monuments in Scotland and a popular venue for weddings and film locations. It has appeared in such films as, The Private Life of Sherlock Holmes (1970), Highlander (1985), The World Is Not Enough (1999),, Elizabeth: The Golden Age (2007), Made of Honor (2007).

This picture just looks like I am in front of a screen but its real!

We passed Ben Nevis, Britian's highest mountain and film location for "Braveheart" and where Hagrid lived from Harry Potter.

On the way back to Edinburugh we made one last stop to visit Hamish, the Hairy Coo. Isn't he georgeous!

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