Bowmore, Islay to Inverness
Jun 12, 2009
|Today we had to wake up a little earlier to get ready to catch the ferry back to the mainland. Even though we were having breakfast on the ferry, I had a piece of toast and coffee before we left.
We packed up our stuff, and boarded the coach for 8:15 am, for a half hour drive to Port Ellen to catch the ferry for 9:45 am. It was another nice morning, and I enjoyed looking at the scenery passing by.
We waited at the dock for the ferry, which pulled up and unloaded from the stern this time. First off was a big lorry, and it still amazes me how they can fit everyone’s vehicle like sardines in a can.
After walking onto the ferry, we went to the dining room for our breakfast. They had fried eggs, blood sausage, beans (sigh), bacon, potato scones and toast available, as well as coffee or tea. There was another tour group on board with us, but Morag got us first in the queue for breakfast.
Doug and I went and sat in the lounge during the passage, while he got up on deck and watched the scenery go by, while I finished my journal.
It was close to noon when we reached the mainland, and the coach got right underway for our journey to Inverness. It was going to be a long day, with only a few stops along the way.
For the first little while, we went up the Mull of Kintyre, so the scenery looked very familiar. However, once we got past Inveraray, we started into the Highlands, where I’ve been before. Being that it was sunny out, it was even more spectacular than I remembered, and I forgot how smooth the mountains are, and how green everything is. We passed by forest and loch, and it was so pretty. Once again, I put on my classical music and enjoyed the beauty.
Our first stop was at “The Green Welly Stop” for lunch. It is like a roadside service with a coffee shop, restaurant, and small shops, all in one area. Because it was so nice out, it was very busy, and we saw a few other coaches in there, as well as a lot of other travelers.
It was a cafeteria style restaurant, so we had a choice of a lot of stuff for lunch. I decided to have a kind of haggis pasty with flaky pastry, which was quite delicious, and I saw that they had Fraouch, heather ale, so I had some of that too.
We had a little time afterwards to poke through the shops, which sold jams and marmalades, shortbread, cheese, and other gift items such as glasses, whisky, apparel, jewellery and outdoor clothing. We didn’t buy anything.
Back on the road, and passing through Rannoch Moor; this is a bleak, beautiful table land in the Highlands. Although it was sunny out, I could imagine how forbidding it would appear in the rain and mist, and it would be terrible to be lost here.
We came into the valley of Glen Coe, which never ceases to amaze me with its sheer majesty and rugged beauty. We saw a few hikers out and about, and it brought back a lot of good memories of doing the same. Plenty of people stopped to have a view and a photo at the wayside rest.
A little further on, we came to the Commando Memorial at Spean Bridge, a memorial to the commandoes who trained in that area in WWII. It is spectacularly set in a place with a lovely view of the Nevis Mountain Range, including Ben Nevis itself, the tallest mountain in Britain, and on which we could see snow on its peak still.
We drove further on, through Fort William, then turned onto the road that passes through the Great Glen, along Loch Lochy, Loch Oich, Loch Ness, and the Caledonian Canal that connects them all. Again, I had forgot how lovely it was, and we passed through dense moss-covered forests and alongside deep blue lochs. Many of the stone buildings had such immaculately kept gardens of roses and rhododendron and other pretty shrubs and flowering bushes. Many I recognize from home, being that the climate is somewhat similar, although the growing season is so much longer here.
It was quite late by the time we got to Inverness, about 7:00 pm. We arrived at our hotel, the Best Western Palace Inverness, a large stone Victorian hotel right on the banks of the river passing through the city, and just down from Inverness Castle perched up high on the bank. The lobby area has a lot of comfortable seating, with a bar/coffee bar alongside.
We were anxious to get to our room, which at the back of the hotel overlooking an alley. It is, true to form, a series of rabbit-warren hallways and stairs, but at least it means that we are in a quiet part of the hotel.
We had time to freshen up, and then went down to dinner in the dining room, which is a large, high-ceilinged room. I had haggis in whisky cream for starter, which was rich and delicious, then a vegetarian pasta dish for main, and ginger cake in custard for dessert. It was a good meal.
We had coffee in the lobby area and chatted with our fellow Companions for a while, then went to bed. I am glad to be in one place again for a few days. I think I’m getting too old to do the ten stops in eight days thing anymore!