Notes from Debbie and Mike Clark's Tour Of Scotland: September 2003
by Mike and Debbie Clark

 

Friday - September 12th: Had a good flight from Newark to Glasgow. Picked up our car and made it out of the Glasgow airport OK...No wrong turns! From here we drove toward Oban. We stopped by Loch Lomond and Deb spotted several Blackberry bushes -they were good! The drive to Oban was pleasant and scenic. Stopped at Loch Awe and took a few pictures of the mountains rising straight up out of the water. It is spectacular! From here it's on to Glencoe, driving along the shores of Loch Linne. Glencoe is a nice area surrounded by majestic mountains on all sides. Our hotel sits at the base of these mountains on the shore of Loch Leven. Friday night was dinner at the Crannog Restaurant, in Fort William; we ate in the boat docked on the river behind the Crannog building. I had smoked salmon and Deb had a prawn salad (which she said was awesome) and Langoustines, which to me looked like baby lobsters. Wish I had my camera with me when the lady brought them to the table... What a site!!!! There
were 12 of them and they were huge! The food was excellent, after the waitress gold us how to eat the Langoustines!!!! It was a fun evening!!

Saturday - September 13th: Today we drove through the glen around Loch Leven. Very scenic drive with clouds and fog hanging on the tops of the mountains. Only fitting I guess for this area because of the massacre that took place here of the McDonald Clan. From here we rode to Fort William and got in a little shopping. Visited the Highland Clan Center while there - interesting. We had (delicious) pastries in the town courtyard before leaving. That afternoon we went to Ben Nevis (tallest mountain in Scotland) and rode a chair lift almost to the top. Walked the rest of the way. It was blowing 40 to 50 mph on top of the mountain while we were there. That night we had dinner at McTavish's Kitchen. They have a floor show there with Scottish music and Highland Dancing. While there we made
friends with an English couple sitting at the table right beside us. She said that our "garden" is the "veg-a-ta-ble"
patch. She loved Smucker's grape jelly but it was too costly in England. Wish we had exchanged names and
addresses - we would have mailed her some!

Sunday - September 14th: Drove to Inverness today. We took a scenic drive on a single track road across the top of a mountain above Loch Ness on the B862. Lots of pretty lakes up here on top of these mountains. Had great views of Inverness and the Moray Firth off in the distance. No sign of Nessie though!!! Our hotel in Inverness is located on the banks of the River Ness; had beautiful rose bushes in courtyard. That afternoon we drove over to the town of Beauly and visited the Scottish Craft Center. Debbie did some shopping of course (lots of nice stuff here I have to admit). We had a Coke and some homemade bread in the town square.  Later walked around the city of Inverness and visited St. Michael's Cathedral, which was very nice with beautiful stain glass. That night dinner was at the Harlequin Bar and Restaurant. After dinner we walked to McDonalds (very Scottish, huh?) and had a milkshake (and yes - it was "take-away", that's the term they use for carry-out). Sitting on the main drag of Inverness enjoying our milk-shake, Debbie was giving directions to another US couple who were trying to find a local night spot in town...Deb had it going on!!!!

Monday - September 15th: We drove to the Isle of Sky today. Deb found a nice jewelry shop where she picked out a marble stone and had a necklace made. We toured about half of the island where we saw more beautiful mountains and waterfalls. Along the way we visited two castles. First one, Dunvegan castle, was ok - but the second one,
Eilean Donan, was very neat!!! It sat out in the water on a small island with a stone bridge leading over to it. It's everything you would expect to see when you envision an old Scottish Castle. I took several pictures of the castle and the surrounding area; turned out really better than any I've see anywhere else! Filled up with gas on the way back to Inverness. Gas here is OUTRAGEOUS!!!!...27 pounds to fill that little car up, which equates to around $44.00. back in Inverness we had dinner at an Italian Restaurant - it was very good!! It has been a long day and we're tired and I'm ready for bed - but it was a good tired though, because God had blessed us with a great day. The land here is open, yet mountainous and beautiful and we were allowed by Him to view and enjoy it!!

Tuesday - September 16th: Today we took the Northwest Highland tour. Stopped in the town of Tain and asked directions on how to get to the pottery factory located nearby. Found a helpful lady who left her shop and walked 
up the street and gave us in general directions to make sure we got on the correct road. Everybody in Scotland is this nice! It was just a short drive out of town for a couple of miles we found the famous Tain Pottery. Debbie bought a "piece or two" of pottery and we had it shipped home. from here we proceeded to the Kyle of Tongue. We drove about 40 miles on a single track road to get there. Land here was pretty, but very desolate, filled with bogs, peat, and desolate moors that were as far as the eye could see. From Tongue we drove to Durness, which is located on the upper coast of Scotland. The ocean water here is a pretty deep blue. While visiting the coast it sprinkled on and off but was ext remely windy! The coastline doesn't have much of a beach - mostly a rugged  coastline, a lot different from what we are accustomed to see- on our coastal area. We worked our way from here through the wonderful highlands.  Mountains in all directions as  far as you could see. One of the highlights of the day for me was when we came across a sheep farmer herding his sheep from one field to another through a small opening in the rock wall that separated the two pastures. He had two Border Collies that were doing an excellent job herding the 50 to 70 sheep.It was kind of neat watching these dogs in a real herding situation instead of the demonstrations that I am accustomed to watching. I love to watch those dogs work. Stopped and had a late lunch at a tiny Scottish community called Tarbet, which consisted of 4 houses, a public bathroom, several old fishing boats pulled up on shore, lots of sheep just wandering around and (oh yes) the seafood restaurant!!! It was an adventure in itself just to find this restaurant known as the "Restaurant at the end of the world" - a it truly seemed like it was. We drove down this goat path (that should be sheep path in this case) for several miles to find this place which is tucked back in a cove off of the ocean. After  dining we drove back to Inverness and took a night time  stroll along the river Ness. Went back to the room and  packed up for our ride to Callander tomorrow.

Wednesday - September 17th: Traveling to Callander today. Our first stop was Blair Castle. Very Nice... Lots of guns in the main hall (one rifle was 12 ft. long) and deer antlers, more than a hundred in one room. This fellow definitely liked to shoot his deer! We picnicked on the castle grounds and Deb had a good time feeding all the Peacocks. They would actually jump into the air trying to get the bread from her hands! From Blair we traveled to Killin. I got lost in this small town (how do  you get lost in a small town?), but after asking some chap from Australia, he gave us directions to what we were searching for . . . . The Standing St ones!! They were located out in a lush green pasture. After asking permission from the farm owner and discussing his two Border Collies, we were allowed to view the stones. Debbie was in heaven - this was the highlight of the trip for her. The visitors canter in Killin was a working mill, complete  with flume and water wheel. From here we proceeded on to Callander and the Annfield House, which is our B&B we were staying in. Very nice home and owners - stayed there last year. Dinner that night was at the Claymore  Bar in town. Excellent wine, fish, veggies, and tatties.  For Dessert I had Fluttie Pudding which the waitress told me was like X-Mas pudding. Deb had a bread pudding (which she said was fabulous) - both desserts were served with a scoop of their delicious vanilla ice cream.

Thursday - Sept. 18th: We rode through the Trossachs to Aberfoyle. Along the way we found the Scottish church where we had stopped before on our first trip to Scotland (last year; a nice little place sitting on the
bank of a lake. It's just like something out of a storybook. After leaving this area we drove on to Aberfoyle. Deb shopped for a little while and I watched a Border Collie demonstration. From here we drove to Lake Monteith. We rode a ferry to the island where Inchmaholme Abbey is located. Met a group of Scottish school girls who had never met or talked to Americans before; they loved to hear us talk. They were nice and we talked a while and I took a picture of them before we left the island. From here we ventured over to Stirling and visited the Wallace Monument. It was 246 steps to the top. There was a great view from the top, but it had started raining, so the view was hampered somewhat. We left Stirling and returned to Callender and walked the streets of this small town. Visited the Rob Roy center, watched them make short bread at Campbell's Factory - the aroma was fabulous! We bought a
loaf of homemade bread and mince meat and strawberry pastries. Dinner that night was at the Conservatory Restaurant. Deb had Langoustines again with a Prawn salad. Seafood here is excellent regardless of where you are!

Friday - Sept. 19th: Today we drove to Culross (one of our favorite towns) and visited the 12th century Abbey there met a nice local lady there who takes care of the Abbey. From talking to her you could tell she loved it! Talked to her for about 30 or 40 minutes. She was well knowledgeable with the history of the surrounding area and St. Mungo. Debbie had just finished reading a book about his life! From here we traveled a short drive to the town of Dumfermline. Visited St. Margaret's Cave (Deb's 38th great-grandmother!) and Dumfermline Abbey where Robert
the Bruce is buried under the alter there. I got some pictures hereof the Abbey. The stain glass in this Abbey is very impressive. Deb and I had our remaining homemade bread and pastries on the Church grounds, since it was such a beautiful day. From here we drove across the First of Forth into the city of Edinburgh. We found our hotel and checked in at the Melvin House. We found this place last year and loved it. It was still a sunny pleasant afternoon, so we rode over to Edinburgh Castle and caught the last tour of the day. Excellent views of the city from atop the castle. Deb enjoyed talking to the castle tour guide about Scottish history. They both agreed that the Stone of Destiny there at the castle is the original. That night it was fish and chips (you can tell we like our seafood!!) at a small restaurant close to our hotel. Dessert was Pana cotta (this is a caramel Flan) at our favorite restaurant in Edinburgh, La Piazza. back to our room where Debbie had a nice hot bath - she was exhausted. Our room at the Melvin House Hotel has a big bathroom!!!! Big bathrooms are rare in Scotland!!!! We had another great day of
nice weather.

Saturday - Sept. 20th: We set out to visit the Abbeys located in the Borders area of Scotland. It was an overcast day, but no rain. First stop was Jedburgh Abbey, which was very neat.  Most of this Abbey ruin was still intact. They had a nice visitor's center here which had a very good display of artifacts which had been excavated from the Abbey.
From Jedburgh we traveled over to Dryburgh Abbey. We stopped here, but did not visit  the Abbey ruin. Next stop was Melrose Abbey. Wonderful!  This Abbey was built out of red sandstone. We walked through the Abbey and found where Robert the Bruce's heart is buried there. The terrain in this area is soft rolling hills of farming country. Drove by a field of windmills that were used to produce electricity. First time I had seen anything like this up close. I noticed a windmill farm on one of the islands as we flew into Scotland. From the air they looked like little toys, but up close these things are huge!  That night we had dinner at our favorite restaurant, again - LaPiazza, of course.  W ordered a bottle of wine which was a sweet Lambrusco; I had Lasagna (which was excellent) and Debbie had four cheese Penne Pasta (also excellent). Deb's dessert was Carmelina and I had the Honey Pot (which is Ice Cream with honey and nuts). Both were very good!

Sunday - Sept. 21st: We stayed in the city of Edinburgh today. Went to a Woolen Mill on the north side of the city where Deb bought two vests. left here and drove to high Street and walked the Royal mile. Two shops that Debbie wanted to visit were closed since it was Sunday (bummer). We toured through the underground of old Edinburgh, "Mary King's Close". I thought it was very interesting. Actually took us down several "layers" of the city streets to what was a forgotten and buried underground part of the city. We saw how the people lived in the actual closes! Horrible! Afterwards we went inside St. Giles Cathedral - very nice - impressive. It put in perspective what all  the old abbeys that we visited must have looked like at one time. It is Sunday afternoon in Edinburgh, and there are always street musicians playing on some of the street corners. Saw several Bagpipe players in their full Kilts. We drove down by Arthur's Seat, which is a small mountain on the edge of the city that you can walk up to the top and view the city and the First of Forth. That night we had dinner at a bar called the4 Rat and Parrot. It was ok, but nothing to write home about. dessert was (where else?) LaPiazza!!!! Again!!! We were on a first name basis with the staff there I think!!! Deb had Pana Cotta, and I had Honey Pot and again it was delicious!! We are now back at our room packing because we fly out tomorrow. I guess all good things must come to an end. We had a great time and great weather by Scotland standards and some great food. just wish the heather had bloomed this year, but they had an extremely dry summer. We saw some wonderful views of mountains, lakes, and met some good people along the way. A nice English couple (From Yorkshire) at Ft. William, the lady at Culross Abbey, Janet, who owns the Annfield House B&B, and the manager of the Melvin House Hotel, who was always helpful to us, as he was last year.

Monday- Sept. 22nd: It is lightly raining as I load the car this morning. We have to drive from Edinburgh to Glasgow this morning to catch our flight home. This is normally a 45 min. drive, it took us about an hour and half because of rush hour traffic. On the way there the rain stopped and the sun was out! We got our car and ourselves checked in at the airport. I can't believe I've made two trips to Scotland and brought the rental car back in one piece both times!!!! Miracles still happen!  I went to the currency exchange to cash in my Scottish pound and realized that I still had my hotel key in my pocket. The lady at the currency exchange offered to mail it back to the hotel for us since the key would not fit in the Postal Drop. So I paid her the postage and she dropped the key in a package and mailed it for us. That's the way most people are here,  very helpful. We boarded our plane and it had stopped raining and the sun was shining, so when we took off we got to see the hills and countryside of Scotland one last time. our flights went well, but Newark airport has still got to be the most unfriendly place we have ever been.  Lots of rude people there! Our flight back to Greenville went well except for the last 15 minutes. We flew into a weather front and it was Shake, Rattle and Roll just before landing!  It's been a great trip, but good to be home and sleeping in our own bed tonight!

Sunshine on Glen Coe

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sunset on Loch Alsh

 

Loch Leven

Eilean Donan Castle - Isle of Skye

 

Loch Awe

 

 

 

Blooming heather

 

 

 

 

Loch Leven memorial

 

 

 

Loch Leven

 

 

 

Smoo Cave beach

 

 

 

 

 

 

Deb at Dunvegan castle

 

 

 

 

Blair Atholl Castle

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Dumfermline Abbey

 

 

 

 

Tarbet Sheep

 

 

 

 

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Deb at Dumfermline Abbey

 

 

 

Standing Stones

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Melrose Abbey

Burial Place of Robert the Bruce's Heart

 

Inverness Castle

Inverlochy Castle

Wallace Monument

Jedburgh Abbey

Mike at Eilean Donan Castle

Deb at Edinburgh Castle