This morning Grandpa DAVE was the big hit as we tidied up and checked out of our apartment. The kids were enjoying playing with Henry and “helping Grandpa DAVE”.
After dropping Nali and Grandpa DAVE at the Bus Station, we all jumped into the car. It was “new home day”.
Our first spontaneous stop was only ten minutes away at the Ben Nevis Viewpoint. It was blowing a gale, Lachlan was not impressed he was pulled out of his warm car seat for this. There were so many mega mountains in the clouds that to be honest we were not really sure which one was Ben Nevis, the UK’s highest mountain and working it out was not at the top of Lachlan’s priority list.
Ben Nevis is the highest mountain in Scotland, the United Kingdom and the British Isles. The summit is 4,411 feet (1,345 m) above sea level and is the highest land in any direction for 459 miles (739 kilometres). Ben Nevis stands at the western end of the Grampian Mountains in the Highland region of Lochaber, close to the town of Fort William. The mountain is a popular destination, attracting an estimated 130,000 ascents a year, around three-quarters of which use the Mountain Track from Glen Nevis. The 700-metre (2,300 ft) cliffs of the north face are among the highest in Scotland, providing classic scrambles and rock climbs of all difficulties for climbers and mountaineers. They are also the principal locations in Scotland for ice climbing. The summit, which is the collapsed dome of an ancient volcano, features the ruins of an observatory which was continuously staffed between 1883 and 1904. The meteorological data collected during this period is still important for understanding Scottish mountain weather. C. T. R. Wilson was inspired to invent the cloud chamber after a period spent working at the observatory.
It was a quick jog back to the car to warm up, we had to move on, King Lachlan had important business to attend to. After King Lachlan’s recent coronation, the Scottish Government had recently named a large body of water Loch Lochy. The King of lochs was thrilled, the center of his universe.
Loch Lochy (Scottish Gaelic, Loch Lòchaidh) is a large freshwater loch in Lochaber, Highland, Scotland. With a mean depth of 70 m (230 ft), it is the third-deepest loch of Scotland.
Meanwhile, the sun was slowly waking up, well trying its best to. Nali and Grandpa DAVE were enjoying the windy scenic bus drive north.
As we made our way up Loch Ness we swung past Urquhart Castle, a good use of our Historic Scotland cards. The castle was packed with tourists on Highland Day Tours like Grandma and Grandpa Nicholls.
As we made our way down to the castle, Lachlan first saw a trebuchet then noticed a duck, uh oh, poor duck.
It was the perfect castle for the kids to run up, down, and all around for a timely car break.
The wind was starting to pick up, the perfect spot for gusts which Eloise took advantage of.
Urquhart Castle is a ruined castle that sits beside Loch Ness in the Highlands of Scotland… The present ruins date from the 13th to the 16th centuries, though built on the site of an early medieval fortification. Founded in the 13th century, Urquhart played a role in the Wars of Scottish Independence in the 14th century. It was subsequently held as a royal castle and was raided on several occasions by the MacDonald Earls of Ross… The castle, situated on a headland overlooking Loch Ness, is one of the largest in Scotland in area.
After a nice stretch of the legs, we drove to the top of Loch Ness to rendezvous with Nali and Grandpa DAVE back in Inverness, the capital of the Highlands, where we picked up the Grandpamobile.
Once King Lachlan was ready we kicked off our road trip.
Over the past 671 days, we have done our best to show you a glimpse of our travels throughout the UK and Europe. Along the journey, there have been countless Scottish adventures but we are yet to head further north than Inverness and Lossiemouth. However, today is the day, well overdue, that we show you the best parts of Scotland. For the next nine days, we will be traveling anti-clockwise making our way around and through the Scottish Highlands on “one of the world’s best road trips”. We found a handy online travel guide which we are pretty much following to a tee with a bit of additional Fensom Flair toward the end.
Having said that, we did not make it far, we needed linner.
Super Mum stepped up to the role of Chief Navigator with the Scottish blue Grandpamobile in hot pursuit. Not before long we arrived at Shandwick Stone in the middle of a field during peak hay fever season. However, this was not going to stop Lachlan.
This was the first time Nali or any of us for that matter had been exposed to the Highland wind. Nali was trying all sorts to deal with it. Eloise was laughing her head off, she then nicked Nali’s beanie and legged it.
It was the perfect track for the kids as they just ran circles around the mysterious Shandwick Stone, probably conjuring up some sort of curse.
The Clach a’ Charridh or Shandwick Stone is a Class II Pictish stone located near Shandwick on the Tarbat peninsula in Easter Ross, Scotland. It is a scheduled monument. It is a Class II stone, with the cross facing the seaward side, and the secular scene facing inland. The latter contains six panels, the first (from top to bottom) being a standard Pictish double-disc, the second being a Pictish Beast and the third being a possible hunting scene, with warriors depicted alongside an eagle, a boar, and various other creatures. The bottom three panels consist of woven patterns. The stone is now encased in a glass cover room. The Gaelic name (Clach a’ Charaidh) means ‘stone of the grave-plots’. A burial ground here was recorded in 1889 as last used during the cholera epidemic of 1832 and ploughed under about 1885.
In 2007, the Highland year of Culture, a local artist Steve Hayward, from Hilton, sculpted the 10ft bronzed wood mermaid statue. The Mermaid of the North sits on a rock- named “Clach Dubh” (black rock in Gaelic) – in the Seaboard Village of Balintore. Sadly, in 2012 the mermaid was damaged by a severe storm. Originally made from wood and resin, she was not strong enough to withstand the stormy weather. In 2014 The Mermaid was replaced with a bronze cast model; this was aided with a grant from the SSE. The Mermaid’s origins are deep-rooted in the Peninsula folklore; legend tells that once a fisherman stole a beautiful mermaid away to be his wife and hid her tail. Years later, after bearing his children, she found her tail and escaped back to sea, returning regularly to the shore to bring fish to her hungry children.
Tonight we were staying in Tain, the kids did their usual dash around the accommodation with Eloise deciding who gets which room. Eloise could not get her head around the fact there were two toilets and told Nali ten times to make sure she understood.
The kids’ favourite feature about the “new home” was of course the inside marshmallow toasting. Eloise was so excited she exclaimed to Nali “I’ve lost my inside voice”.
Finally, it was Nali books before bed, as we try to drag their bedtimes earlier.
We will see how we go with the rest of our adventure. We are not sure how much reception we will have as we swoop around the top of Scotland.