From Fort William we travelled basically along Loch Ness to Dornoch. Sue had discovered a waterfall we needed to check out at Invermoriston but first lunch. We had left over stale sour dough bread, left over chilli olives and cheese. It was delicious! Then it was off for a walk in the glen. It was beautiful with bridge, waterfall, Summer House and accompanying photo shoot.
Sue was keen to revisit Urquhart Castle, a ruin with a spectacular position jutting into Loch Ness. We were taken by surprise when as we tried to enter the carpark a young woman demanded to see the ticket that we should have bought online. Sue was outraged!!! It’s a ruin! Turns out it is one of the most visited sites in Scotland and has the most reports of sightings of Nessie so that is a good indicator of the nature of the visitors. Of course I couldn’t get a picture so I have borrowed one.
We drove on to Dornoch and while we were there, we visited the Dunrobin Castle Gardens and Cain Lieth, a broch, a sophisticate type of Iron Age settlement. This one is difficult to get to and no one has worked out how to make money out of it yet. We thoroughly enjoyed our discovery.
The meal at the Dornoch Castle Hotel was excellent. An ancestor of Sue’s was once the baillie when it was Castle Dornoch. The beach is renowned, so we went for a wander through the Royal Dornoch Golf course and back past the Witch’s Stone, the location of the burning of the last witch in Scotland. Another terribly sad story of Janet Horne who was old and probably had a bit of dementia and found guilty of witchcraft. She was brought to the spot stripped, rolled in tar, placed in a barrel and burned.
Before venturing on to our next stop we decided coffee was essential. We negotiated the convoluted streets of Inverness – Sue had Googled ‘best coffee in Inverness’ and we ended up parking outside a Thai restaurant of the same name which had apparently closed down some time before but…Sue has a sure-fire way of finding the absolute best coffee in the area – ask a hairdresser. They always appreciate a caffeine hit – the stories they must hear!!!
One would think we had learned but really what can we do without Google maps? So down the million stairs (God Scotland is filled with stairs!!!) into the High Street across the bridge and hang a right. It was cold…really cold and windy…we really needed this hot coffee. Nothing! We re-entered the coffee shop ‘XOKO”. Oh, says Google that ‘XOKO’ oh it’s on the other side of the bridge…you just passed it… silly you… Google is never responsible. The coffee was good. I had a croissant with ham, cheese and tomato – not heated and absolutely wonderful.
Culloden was next. What can be said about Culloden? A big grassy field. Chunks of tourists with their guides traipsing from one red or blue flag to another. A massive Tourist Information Centre selling a mind-blowing array of souvenirs. A viewing platform so you can see the wide expanse of grassy fields. An unnerving sense of horrific human carnage. I agree with Sue that we should visit the site of a momentous event in Scottish history, but I found it macabre. The story of the enterprising woman who lived in the cottage on the site until about 1912 was interesting if even more macabre. Tourists would visit the site and she would take them around and allow them to dig up a few bones – souvenirs.
We dropped into Cawdor castle and found the lone piper- busking. He was on for a chat and shared his long story of how the pipes work and all about the upkeep and how he was getting on and that the job was a bit more taxing than it used to be. We decided the castle entry fee was beyond what either of us were interested in and as we passed the piper, happily contributed to his retirement fund.