I had just been overtaken by a Jaguar. A silver one with a very sporty engine to be precise. I was surprised as I wasn’t going slowly myself. I was in the Cairngorms in the Lotus on my way to Fort Augustus and I was winding my way around one of the many mountain roads. The Scottish sun (there is such a thing) was shining down and I was taking it all in. Sometimes, when you have a road to yourself with views as stunning as these, it feels special. When your Lotus suddenly gets overtaken by a Jaguar on a bend, it feels like you’re in a James Bond film. I sped up…
…but not for long. You see, I was not alone in the car. I was with my girlfriend and she told me off. I thought about pretending not to have heard her (the Lotus is very loud) but then I thought about how good the brakes were and how many sharp corners there were on this stretch of road. I decided to slow down.
It was the summer and we were having a road trip around Scotland, from Newcastle to Inverness and back again following the Caledonian Canal. It was an 800 mile round trip and thankfully, the Lotus gave us no trouble at all.
I love Scotland; the mountains, the roads, the lochs and the cities are all amazing in my opinion. The road through the Cairngorms to Fort Augustus and Inverness is no exception. The route we travelled took us past Aviemore, the ski resort. As it was summer, the place had been abandoned until the winter season started back up again. It looked quite surreal without any snow on the ground – the ski lifts and snowboarding ramps looked as if they had long been forgotten about. It was hard to imagine that in a few months time the place would be packed with snow sport enthusiasts whizzing down the mountains. In the winter however, it would be hard to imagine a Lotus managing to make it to the ski resort with all the snow around!
Upon arriving at Fort Augustus, we checked into a pleasant B&B that overlooked the loch (it’s hard to find a B&B that doesn’t in Fort Augustus to be honest) and the owner was quite a character. The car was an instant hit with her when she saw it at breakfast. “Wow! Is that yours?” She didn’t seem to mind when I left it outside the window whilst we checked out the town.
Fort Augustus is in a handy location if you like backpacking along lochs in the rain (the Scottish sun had now disappeared). It is at southern tip of Loch Ness but the place is not very big. There are plenty of great places to eat and drink but some are better than others (it depends on what you’re after). The cheesecake from the Bothy was quite something I must admit, but that’s the only thing I remember from the meal there.
We were using it as a base camp for a day or two whilst we explored the lochs. We drove up to Inverness taking the road which hugs Loch Ness. It was wet and bumpy but it was still fun to drive! En route, we stopped off at Urquhart Castle which is roughly half way up the Loch. This is a good castle (even in the rain) and the land it was built on protrudes out into the Loch. There are plenty of walls and towers to explore whilst you are there and even a trebuchet. The view from the top of the tallest tower lets you look out over most of the Loch, but we couldn’t find Nessie.
After a quick bite to eat and a customary Irn Bru, we dived back in the car and headed to Inverness. We made one more stop along the way to check out ‘Nessie-Land’ but we didn’t stay long.
When we made it to Inverness, the sun came out again and we had a pleasant mooch around the city. We had a look around the castle and walked along the river, went in some tourist shops and avoided the temptation to buy any woollen or shortbread goodies. I don’t mind Inverness, I just can’t think of anything else to say about the place at the minute!
When we were back in Fort Augustus we took a drive to the base of Loch Ness to get some photos. There were some Chinese tourists taking lots of photos when we arrived, so I parked the car accordingly to get some good shots. When I had finished, we left the car there and went for a stroll. As soon as we did, the Chinese people gathered around it to get photos. I smiled as they posed and threw peace signs in front of the camera.
Sadly, we had to leave Loch Ness not long after that. The place is great, I would like to explore it by canoe sometime. We certainly saw a lot more on that trip, but I think I’m going to save those tales for a later entry…