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Posts Tagged ‘Inverness’

Sunday morning broke, quiet and still, barely a sound to be heard outside, the rain dripping from the skies.   While CJ slept, I quietly opened my curtains and gasped out loud.   OMG the view!   What a surprise!   We were situated right against a towering mountain, the slopes covered with a blanket of lovely fir trees, some green some orange, some yellow.  view from my bedroom window

And yet, the best was still to come.

I decided to make myself a cup of tea, so pattering quietly down the passage into the living room area, I put the kettle on and made my way over to the front door of the cabin to open the curtains and peek outside.   WOW!!!!   I literally shrieked out loud and grabbed my mouth with delighted shock.   The Loch was right on our doorstep!  We were surrounded by heavily forested mountains with great swathes of lovely green grass and a massive stretch of water that was Loch Oich!


Stunningly beautiful, it took my breath away.   It was so dark when we arrived the night before that I never had an idea of what was just beyond our cabin and the scene that met my eyes was incomparable.   The trees were glorious in their autumn colours and I was itching to wake CJ.   Pretty soon she was up and about, so I led her to the front door with her eyes closed and sweeping back the curtains I presented her with the sheer beauty of the day.   We were stunned.

Loch Oich is part of the Caledonian Canal that runs from Inverness in the north to Fort William in the southwest of the Scottish Highlands.    There are a number of Loch’s all joined by swing-bridges, the nearest to us being the Laggan Swing-Bridge.

Breakfast was forgotten as we hurriedly dressed and layered, then out the door armed with our cameras, we set forth to capture the magnificence.   As we were standing on the Loch edge, above the clouds we heard the roar of fighter jets zooming overhead!   The sound came as a heck of a shock and as the jets zoomed off into the distance the boom of the aftershock hit our eardrums.   Exciting!


A very happy couple of hours later after taking hundreds of photos we finally headed back to our cabin for food.

 

Oh my gosh, the scenery is fabulous.   Scotland so lends itself to autumn and the colours are amazing.   After a hurried meal we donned trainers and wellies, hats and jackets and set off to explore the grounds and forest behind us.   The park is set right on the edge of the towering Monadhliath mountain range; covered with wonderful coniferous forest behind, the Loch in front and another towering mountain also covered with coniferous forest that reaches right down to the water’s edge on the opposite side.   With paths meandering alongside a stream and gushing waterfalls, the forest begged to be explored.

Looking up into the forests was spine tingling and I decided to explore the inner reaches.  Setting off I clambered up the slopes through bracken and fallen moss-covered branches, slipping and sliding all the way.   Needless to say I did not get very far and eventually had to halt just within the trees and meters from the path.

I urged CJ to join me but she was more sensible than that.

I spent a few minutes just enjoying the sighing of the wind in the branches and the hushed quiet of a deeply carpeted forest, then made my way back down, slip sliding away, I eventually reached terra-flat after sliding most of the way on my bum.  It is a lot easier going up than down and I nearly lost my balance a few times then decided to take the inelegant way down, which my daughter very kindly captured on video for all the world to see.   Nice one pet!   Miraculously I was not soaked and my trousers were unmarked by the moss covered slopes.

CJ was hysterical with laughter and can be heard snorting away in the background of the video.   Cheeky brat.   We then meandered along what was a very wet and slushy pathway, dotted with puddles of water and slippery with wet moulding leaves. The  forest was ever so quiet and I am sure we frightened the animals away with the noise we made.   Stopping every few feet to gasp and ooohh and ahhh at all the lovely sights, we saw waterfalls, and streams, trees dressed in their autumn finery of yellows and reds and gold.  

The forest carpeted with a myriad of colours; dark green to psychedelic green, yellow, gold, maroon, brown, beige and red is a sight to behold.   Rotting logs, left over from fallen trees lend a wonderful aroma to the air and are home to a profusion of new growth, with little pine trees sprouting out the top.  Never believe for one second that autumn and winter signal death.   There is a teeming burst of life and new growth everywhere you look.   We chanced upon a tree covered in black seedpods and bursting out the seams were tiny little shoots of green leaf and spiral stems.  Every where you look there is growth of moss and lichen, fungus and mushrooms, new trees sturdily finding their feet and deep in the bracken the first tendrils of leaf waiting for spring.

After first exploring one way along the path we retraced our steps then explored the other end.   Chancing upon what looked like a railway platform right on the edge of the forest we were amazed to read that in 1903 someone had decided to build a railway line from Fort Augustus to Inverness.   

Where we were standing were the remains of what was indeed the platform for a railway station.   It was really bizarre since there were a couple of really massive trees growing right in the middle of the concrete edifice and the whole area is covered in green moss and grasses and bracken with younger trees vying for attention.

There is an information board with the full story on display and a map of the whole area showing how they intended to build.   Bizarre.

 

 

The board says: “It may be hard to believe but this used to be Invergarry Railway Station, part of the Invergarry and Fort Augustus Railway.   Reporting on the line’s opening in 1903, the Inverness Courier says: “The buildings are of wood on concrete foundations, the outer surface of Swiss shingle after the pretty pattern first used on the West Highland Railway and giving a very pretty effect.” The Invergarry and Fort Augustus Line, was intended to be the first stretch of a railway, which would eventually connect Fort William and Inverness.   Unfortunately competition between the different highland companies meant that the second stretch of the line to Inverness was never built.   This meant financial disaster for the Fort Augustus and Invergarry railway.   It finally closed in 1946.   Today you can still find evidence of the station and it’s tracks.   Nature is, however, reclaiming the site rapidly as can be shown by the large Douglas fir trees growing on the tracks and platform.  The developers so sure of its success invested £350,000 the equivalent of £20million today in the building of tunnels, roads and stations.

Hard to believe indeed!   And far more attractive now than it would have been had they succeeded.   I shudder to think.

By now it was beginning to rain again so we headed back to our warm cosy haven and had a yummy lunch.   CJ then retired for an afternoon snooze and the rain having eased off, I went off adventuring.   The Loch is so photogenic and with barely a breath of air to disturb the surface, the water lay like a sheet of glass, still and dark, the trees across the Loch perfectly reflected. Eventually CJ joined me and we happily snapped away and admired the views.   By now it was beginning to darken and the light turned a wonderful blueish grey, tinged with pink across the Loch.  

 

 

 

We were joined by an armada of ducks

and a pair of swans that came right up to the edge of the jetty and posed beautifully for some photos. 

Suddenly the clouds cleared and with a splash of pink and silver the sun set, spectacular against the dark clouds reflected in the water.  

We headed on back to the cabin for supper.  Since it is now officially winter and we are so far north, the suns starts to sink behind the horizon at about 3pm and disappears from view about 4pm, and as the light dims rapidly we are soon plunged into darkness.

The cabins are really cosy and we are quite happy to just snuggle and drink tea whilst watching TV or reading or enjoying the photos we had both taken.

 

An earlyish night for an early start on the morrow!   Time to explore Loch Ness and Urquhart Castle.

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Facts about Inverness (courtesy of wikipedia):

The name Inverness is Gaelic and translates as ‘mouth of the river Ness’.

Situated at 57.4717N and 4.2254W.

Inverness (Scottish Gaelic: Inbhir Nis) is a city in northern Scotland and it is promoted as the capital of the Highlands of Scotland.

The city lies near the site of the eighteenth century Battle of Culloden and at the beginning of the Great Glen, where the River Ness enters the Inverness/Moray Firth making it a natural hub for various transport links.   It is the northernmost city in the United Kingdom.   A settlement was established by the sixth century AD with the first royal charter being granted by King David I in the twelfth century.

Inverness was one of the chief strongholds of the Picts, and in AD 565 was visited by St Columba with the intention of converting the Pictish king Brude, who is supposed to have resided in the vitrified fort on Craig Phadrig, on the western edge of the city. A 93 oz (2.6 kg) silver chain dating to 500-800 was found just to the south at Torvean.

click here and scroll down for a map of Inverness/Scotland

The 14.11.09 approached both rapidly and slowly and it was with excitement and anticipation that we woke on Saturday and set off on our journey up north.  This is the farthest north we, my offspring and I have ever been – 57.4717N and 4.2254W!!!   Brilliant.

CJ reached Victoria station before I did and very naughtily filmed me walking across the concourse!   We took the Gatwick Express since it was almost £2 cheaper than by regular train.   Go figure.

Check in at Easyjet was chop-chop and with time to spare we went to MacDonald’s for a Happy Meal for a happy CJ 🙂

and a chocolate milkshake for me.

This is the first time wev’e travelled with Easyjet and although the flight is the same as any other cheap airline, I was totally unimpressed with the fact that they left our luggage out in the rain and when we arrived at our destination our clothes were wet.  Even more so since CJ was forced to check her bag at a cost of £18 because the bag was literally a zip width to wide for the onboard luggage sizer.

However, excitement reigned supreme as we boarded and finally took off, 25 minutes late.   We were off to the Highlands of Scotland, Inverness and final destination was the Great Glen Water Park, situated on Loch Oich (which we did not know beforehand).

The flight was bumpy but uneventful and flying over England was a treat as always.   The countryside is so beautiful and I never tire of seeing it from the air.   A great expanse of blue sky and great big tumbles of wonderful white clouds accompanied our flight, providing fantastic photo opportunities.

With no idea what to expect we suddenly flew over the highlands!

first view of the Scottish Highlandsand practically climbed out the window with excitement.   The view was stupendous.   Great open stretches of mountain and wilderness, huge lakes that spread for miles.    The sun shone down and touched on a mountaintop providing a glimpse of the splendour to come.

Scotland; land of legends, castles, humble crofts, high mountains and tranquil lochs, battlefields echoing to the cries of long ago and remote glens home to towering firs and magnificent golden eagles.

Touchdown was uneventful, no rain but threatening.   Collected our luggage, which was soaked!   A complaint coming up here!   Then over to Avis to collect our hire car.  I have decided to write up a checklist of things to look out for and questions to ask for future reference.

It was starting to drizzle again, so in the rain I checked the car over thoroughly, remembering the lesson from Ireland.   By the time I had checked for little bumps and scratches my hands were frozen and my sleeves soaked.

By now the light was fading and losing no time we set off, first stop Tesco, just 2 miles down the road for supplies.   We had fun whizzing round the store (which was massive and jam-packed with goodies) picking and choosing yummy things to eat and drink, mindful of our budgets.   By the time we emerged it was dark!!!  Now for the fun bit – finding our way through a foreign town in the dark.   Fortunately CJ had printed a fairly detailed map of the area and we made good progress to the A82 (I think) and then on to our destination.

At that time I had no idea how far the Great Glen Park was from Inverness and had considered taking a cab there!   Fortunately I had hired a car!   It was 54miles from the airport!   I had no idea.   We drove and drove, the rain falling steadily and with absolutely no idea where the place was, we anxiously scanned the map for landmarks.

1.5 hours later we finally arrived, just before 7pm and we had made the check-in deadline with 10 minutes to spare.  By now pitch-dark we had not an inkling of the beauty and magnificence awaiting us.   The A-frame cabins are darling and we made ourselves right at home.   The first thing that went on was the heating, as it was quite freezing cold.

Hunting around the cabin it took ages for us to find all the switches to activate the various appliances, and the only one we could not find was the switch for the hot water!   The following day we enquired at the office and the handyman came along to show us where it was – right behind the box of oats I had placed on the counter!!! Go figure.

Then a toss-up on who would get the double bed!  CJ won for the first 4 nights since she was only staying till Wednesday, so that was fair enough.  Then time to unpack, hang clothes up to dry and have supper!   We had bought a pizza for convenience and popped it into the oven.   Hahahaha, we ended up with – a burnt pizza for supper!  The oven settings were unfamiliar and we set it too high.  It tasted just fine actually and nicely crunchy round the edges 🙂

Relaxing and watching TV, Strictly Come Dancing was on and not to be missed, followed by X-Factor, we settled in for the week, cosy and comfortable.   Later that evening just after getting into bed, I had a summons from CJ to quickly get my jacket and shoes on and come outside.   I duly complied and stepping out back behind the cabin I lifted my eyes to the heavens and gasped.   A blanket of stars covered the night sky, brightly twinkling and sparkling in the night sky.   I am reminded once again of the fact that because we are creatures of the daytime, we miss out on this glorious spectacle every night.

We shivered and giggled, somewhat nervous that we were so close to the forest, literally feet away, it was dark and eerie and every rustle had us squeaking with fright. With wolves and ghosts in mind, and things that go bump in the night, I did not last long when finally my nerve broke and we skedaddled back inside, laughing and giggling fit to bust.

We had no idea what was awaiting our eyes on the morrow.   And so to bed, I slept like the proverbial baby.  Utter peace and quiet.   Bliss.

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