Over Easter we decided to head to Scotland with a couple of James' friends from back home in N.Z. After flying into Glasgow our first port of call was Loch Lomond, one of hundreds of Lochs we would pass in our five days in Scotland (If we had known this I don't think we would've even bothered stopping) but it did remind us very much of the lakes in the South Island.
We then headed to the small fishing village of Oban on the West Coast. This was where we encountered our first major change of weather, gale force winds and accompanying horizontal rain. It meant you could stand at a 45 degree angle into the wind and not fall over. Then we made our way to Fort William for the night, the highlight apart from the morning shop at Tescos was eating at the pizzeria that had no pizzas.
Early the next morning we drove to Glen Nevis, and after some masterful navigating from our GPS unit (now named talkingbox) we found the base of Ben Nevis. We started along the trail from the carpark but since the sign at the start warned of certain death and just as we started to move snow and ice (I would say rain but it was so cold it stung as it hit your face it must have been ice) we only made it a few hundred metres along. Then guided by Wallace McGrady (yes we had renamed our GPS) we headed towards Glen Coe (another change in the weather saw the midst of the snow storm) and then to Eilean Donan Castle by Dornie. This was a must see for us as it is James' old MacRae family castle and they even put on a bagpiper for Sarah to dance to. Later in the afternoon we headed to the Isle of Skye where we drove almost around the whole Island. We saw Portree and the Storr (some interesting rock formations). The highlight was a waterfall into the ocean that with such strong winds was blowing back up the cliff. As we came back form Isle of Skye we managed to detour (we told the girls this was the more direct route) back past Eilean Donan Castle for night time photos, then onwards to Inverness in a major snow storm.
Next day we went to Loch Ness, saw the monster (or maybe tried some trick photography) and some more snow (it was amazing how white everything was). Then guided by Shona (yes we have renamed our GPS again) to Urquhart Castle (or what was left of it). We then went to Cannich where we saw the hairy cows (you would have to be that hairy to survive the cold) and snow about 4 inches thick on the trees, houses and ground. Then around the next corner we were presented with stunning sunshine, blue skies and hill upon hill of green grass. We then went to Glen Affric and walked to the Dog Falls (Sarah was very disappointed not one dog in sight) and then drove onto Ullapool, which was pretty but a rather unnecessary 50mile detour although it did allow our GPS unit to take us down some very small winding roads. Next heading through Aviemore, stopping for a walk around Loch an Eilein (very quickly getting over Lochs). We then had a late night trip to Aberdeen. There was so much snow that the road our GPS was taking us on was closed. Although in hindsight trying to make our way through a mountain range at night when it is heavily snowing was not one of our most intelligent decisions.
Sunday we walked around Aberdeen and were stuck outside in a massive downpour of snow (so of course James had to dance in it). Then to Balmoral Castle to see the Queen, but she was out (plus they must%uFFFDve heard we were coming because they had locked the gates), then Dundee (nothing here), Glamis Castle (got told off for driving on the grass) and then onwards to St Andrews. Unfortunately for Sarah, James forgot his golf clubs so had to settle for streaking down the 18th. Also spent some time exploring the ruins of a 12th century cathedral which were stunning - pity about the minus 12 degrees wind chill. Then onward to Edinburgh. We spent a couple of hours at the Forth Bridge (much to the girls%uFFFD delight) so the boys could try to find the best angle to take photos of it. Later that night we explored Edinburgh and will definitely have to come back sometime to spend more time here
Last day (can you tell I am getting tired of writing this blog) we saw the Falkirk wheel, a very very cool boat lift for canal boats. Next Stirling where we visited the castle and the Wallace monument. We even got a snap of Mel posing in his kilt. Last stop was Loch Katrine (didn't I mention a lot earlier I was over Lochs) before heading back to Glasgow.