April Fool’s was our last day of our tour around North Eastern Scotland. After an incredible dinner and stay at the Kildrummy Castle hotel, we were off to Inverness (Inbhir Nis is Gaelic) to do a little more sightseeing , drop off the car, and catch our train back to Glasgow. We had about a sixty mile drive, and had planned on getting a relatively early start.
I had planned on touring the Kildrummy Castle ruins by way of a morning run in the wee hours of the morning, which I had been totally neglecting so far this week. Unfortunately, I was fighting something, and slept very poorly, not getting to sleep until after 4am. Karen is convinced it was the 10 or so ounces of coffee, I’m not so sure. In any event, I woke up much later than planned, so missed the run and delayed our start to the day by about 45 minutes. Oops.
Breakfast was very similar to dinner the previous night. We were seated in the dining room, and everything was brought to us with the food prepared exactly as we requested. It’s nice to be treated so well first thing in the morning, and it got out day off to a really good start. Following our feast, it was time to hit the road one last time.
The plan for the day was to see Fort George, then take in Loch Ness, return the car and-if time permitted-stroll around downtown Inverness until our train left. Our train was scheduled to leave at 16:55 (good thing we checked, as we had both thought it left at or after 17:00), which left us with about four hours to do all of the above so you knew something was going to give.
The drive North took us through the start of the highlands, with some more roller-coaster roads that looked hella fun to drive on. I will drive them… someday… just not this trip out. We stopped at the top of a couple peaks to take in the scenery, and were just about knocked over by how strong the wind was and how much the temperature had dropped. After driving through the hills for a little while, we got onto the A9 which took us straight into Inverness.
Fort George is about 5 miles west of Inverness out by the airport, and is situated on a tip of land overlooking the bay. The fort is a perfectly preserved example of an 18th century military installation, and is in remarkable shape. The price of admission included a comprehensive audio tour, and we spent a couple hours walking the walls and taking in some great views of the bay. Alas, we did not see any dolphins.
After our visit to the fort, we realised we really didn’t have time to spare to get down to see Loch Ness, especially since we had to find the car rental return and fill the car with gas (89p per litre – ouch). It worked out for the best, as Karen’s parents are going to be visiting in June, and Loch Ness is one of the destinations planned, so saving it for another day was not a difficult decision to make, and we didn’t have to stress about timetables.
After navigating (successfully!) six roundabouts in a row, we found ourselves at a filling station, and then through to the other side of the River Ness where the rental agency was. We dropped the car off, and headed to the train station to drop our bags off and do a little exploring. The sun had come out, and it was a nice spring day, with real blue sky and everything. We crossed a footbridge to the city centre, and made our way to the station.
By this time it was about 2pm, and we found the bag lockers. Being tired, and not really wanting to spend Ã‚Â£4/$10, we decided to pass on touring downtown and went foraging for food instead. We found a pub that offered food and drink nearby (Ã‚Â£4.50 for lunch, Ã‚Â£2.55 for pints of Guinness, Extra Cold). Karen had a burger, I had a mac and cheese, and we both enjoyed hanging in a locals pub with a couple pints watching everyone inside interact.
The rest of the evening was spent in front of the TV with a dram, some dark chocolate, and an episode of 24.
What a great tour of Aberdeenshire and the Highlands. I can’t recommend renting a car and touring Scotland enough.