Picture this. It’s 6am. You wake up – still feeling the Guinness from yesterday’s St. Patrick’s Day celebration – dig around for clothes that can strategically withstand the coldest and the warmest of Scotland (which is still not that warm), throw some essentials into a backpack (trail mix, fruit, a book, and keys -in case you decide to return), eat half a breakfast, and bolt out the door for a bus leaving in about 15 minutes to Loch Ness.
Good! Now that we have the same baseline…
Today, I ventured out with Rez life (yes, again!) to visit Loch Ness and Inverness. Along the way I met Anna, a third year linguistics and psychology double major from Georgetown University who is one of the most single-minded, focused individuals I’ve ever met. The ride was 4 hours long measured mostly by the changing landscape from grass to pine trees I and snow, and from checking my phone every so I often.
For those of my friends visiting Skye this same weekend, p sure I beat y’all up north as we drove nonstop until we hit Urquhart Castle.
Urquhart (pronounced eura-cart?) Castle is located on Loch Ness. I always thought Loch Ness was one word (lochness monster right?) but it’s actually two. Loch is the gaelic (actually pronounced gallic – there’s a difference between the “gallic” gaelic and “gaylic” gaelic) word for lake so Loch Ness is just Lake Ness (wow really changes your perspective on this whole loch thing right?)
Urquhart castle started as a simple pict fort, then was turned into a fortress during the wars of England Independence. Though in ruins today, my mental re-construction of the missing floors helped me understand the size and solidity of the castle that once stood.
The tour guides affiliated with “Historic Scotland” do a great job of telling the story behind the castle, and today was no different (though our tour guide did tend to ramble). In addition to the nearly perfect weather (it could always be warmer), my favorite part was his explanation of the multiple layers of defenses surrounding the castle. First there’s a ditch – which slows down your enemies who are trying to run over from the other side, then there’s the drawbridge which can be raised to prevent enemies from crossing over, then there’s the barastine which is a narrow hallway with tall stone walls designed to contain the enemy and make it easy for archers to pick them off one by one, then there’s an iron gate, then there’s a wooden gate, between them, the murder hole because above this space was a trap door which arrows, biological waste, rocks, and boiling water, all passed through and onto the enemy’s head. Additionally, the wooden doors opened outward, which meant it was very very hard to try to bust the door down. With defenses like that, I’m not surprised Urquhart was never taken.
Urquhart met it’s end through suicide. Its own men decided it wasn’t worth defending, loaded up barrels of gunpowder and blasted the castle from the inside (sads). All that’s left are these ruins (which still look lovely).
After the tour, Anna and I spent some time exploring the ruins. I made sure to visit every nook and cranny. All for the great shots XD
I did spend some time staring out into the Loch, thinking that perhaps I’d see Nessie, but I didn’t expect much It was way too bright and clear today for Nessie to come out; it would have been way too easy to spot her and then the mystery would be gone! It’s also totally possible that she was on the other side of the Loch where there isn’t as much disturbance from people and cars. (Just kidding! Or am I?)
Inverness, our next stop, was only an hour or so away. This may be my favorite city in Scotland not including Edinburgh.
Look down, there’s a river, the river Ness, running through the center of Inverness. The water is blue. It cuts across banks of grass and wildflowers. This is green, purple and yellow. Raise yourself up and there are buildings. Some of them are white, most of them are red. Can you image? Parallel layers of blue, green, and red.
This is why Inverness is one of my favorite cities. It’s gorgeous.
Anna did her research, she know what she wanted to hit in Inverness. We first walked through Victoria market, which was unfortunately very empty.
Then we went to the Leakey bookshop, a discount/second hand/ vintage book store. I was surprised how many people were in this shop… They even have their own post cards??
Apparently, the Leakey Bookshop is the “largest bookshop in Scotland they feature rare and old prints, classic volumes, old maps and much more and has been run by Charles Leakey since 1979.” – some tourist website. Definitely a place to visit if you’re a book lover!
That was the end of Anna’s list, so I took over. I had seen a super cute chocolate/dessert/bakery/ice cream shop on the way to Victoria market called So | Chocolate. I’ve really gotten into the whole afternoon tea trend (I drink decaf in the afternoons of course) so thought it might be a super cute place to take a tea break.
Intuition confirmed! It was super cute and if I had the appetite for sweets that I normally do, I probably would have gone for the chocolate, but I really just wanted tea. Anna on the other hand, definitely went for it and got a So|Chocolate sticky. A what??? They give you a stick of chocolate – your favor of choice – a cup of steamed milk, and let you go for it. I watched as Anna’s pristine foamed milk turn bright fanta orange as a solid cylinder of orange flavored white chocolate melted. It was super cool. Totally want to try next time I need a sugar rush.
That pretty much wrapped up our day! Wasn’t super long because the drive was quite far but trip was awesome and weather was great !