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We are happy to share a guest blog by Anette John, Frankfurt am Main, Germany, which details her experiences of taking the one day Loch Ness, Glencoe and the Highlands tour with us. I’m sure you’ll agree it’s a wonderful piece and it’s great to see that the weather was lovely on the day. Thank you Anette for sharing this with us!

Everyone told me it rains a lot in Scotland. So we were well prepared with rain jackets and umbrellas, when my boyfriend and I boarded the plane from Frankfurt am Main to Edinburgh. But, from the beginning, we knew that we would not let a few raindrops spoil our long-awaited trip to Scotland. We’re not made of sugar, after all!

As it turned out, all were proven wrong. In Edinburgh, we were greeted with radiant sunshine and pleasant temperatures that remained constant for the rest of our stay. 

Dugald Stewart Monument looking out over Edinburgh in the morning.

We fell instantly in love with Edinburgh; with its atmosphere, architecture and its “closes”, narrow alleys steeped in history. We explored Edinburgh Castle, had a look at Scotland’s crown jewels, bravely climbed Arthurs Seat and were rewarded with a breath-taking view. We also went down to the city to Mary King’s Close and ordered a Scottish beer in the pub “Dr Jekyll & Mr Hyde”. The pub in the New Town, with an interior furnished like an old laboratory, pays homage to the literary hero Dr Jekyll, from Robert Louis Stevenson’s classic.  

As avid book-lovers, we could, of course, not miss visiting the Writer’s Museum, where we saw interesting exhibits from the lives of two great Edinburgh poets, Stevenson and Walter Scott. At the museum I also came across a quote by Stevenson, which describes not only his, but also my own, passion for travel very well:

“For my part, I travel not to go anywhere, but to go. I travel for travel's sake. The great affair is to move.”

And we wanted to move even further into the country’s interior, on the trail of the legendary Loch Ness monster.

A view of Edinburgh Castle from the street below.

One of the highlights of our stay in Scotland was a bus tour with Timberbush Tours and a cruise with Loch Ness by Jacobite.

The 600 km journey to Loch Ness and back began as we climbed aboard the bus on a beautiful May morning and were immediately greeted by our guide Paul. He not only provided good spirits during the trip with his sunny disposition, but also, in his very entertaining manner, provided us with plenty of interesting information and fascinating stories.

For example stories about legends of Scottish history, like William Wallace, Rob Roy and also Maria Stuart, Queen of Scots. I learned from him that “loch” is the Gaelic word for lake, that a “glen” is a valley, “ben” is a mountain and “dun” is a castle. This is good to know when traveling through Scotland.

Our journey led us past Stirling and Doune Castle, where some film shooting has been done in the past for the series “Game of Thrones”. In Kilmahog, during a little stopover we had our first encounter with Scottish Highland cattle.

A highland cow and a barbed wire fence with clumps of cow hair caught in it.

We drove through a landscape characterised by dense forests, towering peaks and many lakes, past Rannoch Moor to Glencoe. In this famous valley of the Scottish Highlands we stopped to take photos of the famous mountain range, the so-called “Three Sisters” and to soak up the impressive view.

The Three Sisters mountain range in Glencoe

We had lunch in the city of Fort William (they served haggis!), which lies at the shore of Loch Linnhe, before journeying on to Great Britain’s highest mountain, Ben Nevis, a name that when translated means something like “mountain with its head in the clouds”, as the expert Paul revealed to us. Past the town Fort Augustus, which lies at the southern end of Loch Ness, we were able to catch our first glimpse of the legendary Loch Ness.

Loch Ness and the surrounding hills from the boat.

This elongated loch is about 37 km long and only 1.5 km wide. After Loch Lomond, it is the second largest loch in Scotland, but because of its depth, it has the largest volume of water of all Scottish lakes. (But according to Paul, the deepest loch is Loch Moror.)

We were lucky enough to enjoy a trip on the “Loch Ness by Jacobite” ship. I can warmly recommend it to everyone who visits the loch, in order to look down into its depths and appreciate the beautiful landscape in its full splendour

The Loch Ness by Jacobite cruise ship.

Perhaps the depth of Loch Ness makes people feel that something foreign and eerie lives in its waters – a sea monster, perhaps?

Loch Ness offers its visitors an outrageously beautiful view and, of course, many tourists come to visit especially in the hopes of catching a glimpse of the monster Nessie. In my opinion, Loch Ness is naturally worth visiting without seeing Nessie – but the idea of a monster in the depths of the lake is very palatable food for the imagination.

We also visited the impressive ruins of Urquhart Castle, which lies close to Loch Ness. Its visitor centre provides information about its eventful and exciting history.

The ruins of Urquhart Castle with Loch Ness and the hills in the background.

On our way back to Edinburgh we passed the city of Inverness, capital of the Scottish Highlands, and had a last brief stop in the pretty, Victorian style town Pitlochry. The bus trip to Loch Ness with Timberbush Tours and the cruise with Loch Ness by Jacobite were wonderful experiences.
 
Thank you to our gracious guide Paul, Timberbush Tours and Loch Ness by Jacobite! I am sure this will not be our last visit to Scotland!
 
Anette John (travel blogger) at the ruins of Urquhart Castle