May 10, 11
On Tuesday morning, after a good breakfast of scrambled eggs, sausages and toast, we packed up our gear and headed off towards Inverness. We took the A9 up through the Grampian mountains. It was raining again! It looked very desolate and I took photos of the brown hills. There were quite a few laybys but most of them were not in picturesque spots. We did stop at the Pass of Drumochter, where it was windy, cold and rainy, but other than that I just took photos out of the window as we drove past.
At noon, we stopped and had a bite to eat at a little tearoom in Kingussie. Mike asked the lady what an americano coffee was. It is just a normal black coffee. We had tomato soup and a sandwich.
As we passed through Inverness, the weather started to clear. We crossed the bridge over to the Black Isle where are B&B was located in Fortrose. We found it, but as it was 2:30, it was an hour too early to check in. I wanted to go to Chanonry Point a few minutes farther because I heard that you can see dolphins close to the shore there, especially at low tide. It happened to be low tide. It was sunny when we parked, but very windy and it was a struggle to walk to where I could see everyone watching the dolphins. I took my camera and tripod to get some photos.
I only got one photo of a head because the dolphins were very quick and it was hard to predict where they would surface. By the time you focused the camera on them they were on the way down or had already disappeared. But it was fun to watch them while just standing on the shore.
After a while, we headed to our B&B, Water's Edge. It was right on the Firth of Moray and we had a balcony overlooking the water. Lots of boats were tied out. Our room was quite large and the bathroom was very big, with a bath and separate shower. In the wardrobe were two terry housecoats. Another cupboard had coffee, tea, biscuits, kettle and a small fridge. This is the only place we stayed in that had a fridge. All of them had coffee, tea, biscuits and a kettle. A few also had hot chocolate.
We headed into town (the B&B is just outside) and as the place that our host recommended for supper was closed on Tuesdays, we went to the inn called The Anderson and ate in their pub. Mike had the lamb shank and I had a Chicago burger.£25.30 (The owners are American.) We were the only ones there except for one other couple.
Taking a walk around town we came across a ruined cathedral. It dates from around 1255 when building started although it wasn't finished until 1485. The parts remaining are the south aisle of the nave and the nearby sacristy or undercroft of the chapter house, which dates from the 13th century. The south nave aisle is in the decorated Gothic style, while the other parts are in the Perpendicular style. It was made of red sandstone it is impressive despite being only partly there.
While looking at the gravestones, we found one that had a skull and crossbones on it!
A pheasant came into the graveyard and I tried to get a photo of him. Unfortunately, we only had a short lens on the camera, so we couldn't get great picture of him before he jumped over the stone fence into someone's backyard.
Our plans for Wednesday were to just drive around the highlands. We decided to take the route down through Beauly to Drumnadrochit to see Urquhart Castle and then across to the Isle of Skye.
Our breakfast was very good. There were cereals and some lovely fruit to choose from on the side table. Then I had pancakes with fruit and bacon and Mike had the full Scottish breakfast.
It was actually sunny when we left the B&B and arrived at Urquhart Castle. Loch Ness was very lovely. Mike said he wouldn't mind moving here! We tramped around the grounds and took lots of photos. We saw no sign of Nessie.
We then headed down farther and then east along the A887 towards Skye. We were amazed at the scenery. Lots of mountains and lochs. The weather had taken a turn for the worse and was now off and on drizzle but it was still beautiful.
Because it was raining at noon, we stopped at a layby to enjoy the view and eat our picnic lunch of crackers, cheese and bananas that we had bought at the Cooperative store in Fortrose that morning before leaving. We ate in the car.
There were waterfalls everywhere.
When we were close to the Isle of Skye, we stopped at Eilean Donan Castle in Kyle of Lochalsh. It was free on our Explorer Pass and it is also an iconic Scottish castle. Too bad it was raining, but we still took some photos and they turned out decent enough.
We took the tour inside but we weren't allowed to take photos.
We crossed the bridge over to Skye but only went about 10 miles before turning around. That part isn't the interesting part of the island and I knew to see the great bits, we would have to drive quite far and we didn't have time. It was already 3:30. So reluctantly we turned around. This will have to be a different trip.
Going back, we had to make the decision whether to take the same route as we had come, or to take the A890 & A832. We didn't want to miss more beautiful views. We decided to take the different way and although it too had its beautful parts, it wasn't as nice as the A887. Also the roads were much narrower and the A890 was a single track with lots of passing places. We had never met so much traffic as we did on that single track road!
We were starting to get down to only a 1/4 tank of gas and were on the lookout for a gas station. There wasn't any along this route from the start until Contin which is just before we were back on the Black Isle and back at our B&B! So we learned; always fill up if you see a gas station. We had a nice day and made it back to base by 5:45. We took a drive out to Cromarty to see if there was any place interesting to eat and went along the waterfront. But we couldn't really tell what was open so we ended up back in Fortrose. We contemplated going back to The Anderson, but decided to get take away fish and chips to eat on our balcony since the weather had turned sunny again. It only cost £10 for two orders of enormous fish, so it was much cheaper than a restaurant.
It was an enjoyable day all told.