This morning we had a Full Scottish breakfast. I wasn’t sure what that was but it turns out that it is baked beans, back bacon, sausages, fried eggs, toast and a fried tomato. Plus fresh fruit and a bunch of kinds of cereals. We didn’t leave hungry 😉
The weather was “perfectly drizzly” according to one of the other guests. We had to agree. ~16 degrees and overcast. We decided to move things around a bit from the regularly scheduled holiday. The hike up the mountain (Ben Nevis) was put off. We decided to go finds some castles instead.
Neptune’s Staircase down the road from our B&B is a staircase lock comprising eight locks on the Caledonian Canal. Built by Thomas Telford beteeen 1803 and 1822, it is the longest staircase lock in Britain. The system was originally hand-powered but has been converted to hydraulic operation. It is the longest staircase lock in Britain lifting boats 64 feet (20 m). It consists of eight locks, each 180 feet (55 m) by 40 feet (12 m) and it takes about 90 minutes to pass through the system. We got their when it was in operation and the LockMaster let the boys run one set of the hydraulics to close the lock doors.
The Old Inverlochy Castle is basically a ruin. Although now a ruin this was one of the most important castles in Scottish history and has been the backdrop for two major historical events, the first and second battles of Inverlochy.
The moat that surrounded the castle has long gone but the location at the western end of the Great Glen and natural defensive postion against the River Lochy gave Inverlochy castle a superior advantage. The old Military Road built by General Wade passed right by the castle and can still be followed back in to Fort William.
Originally dating back to the 13th century, Inverlochy Castle last played a part in Scottish and English history during the Civil Wars of the 1640′s. In 1645 the royalist Earl of Montrose routed the roundhead forces of the Campbell Chief Duke of Argyll at the second Battle of Inverlochy.
In 1654 the Castle was abandoned in favour of a large timber fort built nearby by Oliver Cromwell which in 1690 was then replaced by a stone fort named “Fort William” after King William III. The town which grew around it was named Maryburgh after the Queen, Mary II, though eventually it took the same name as the fort.
We didn’t see the no climbing signs till the end. Oops.
In 1836 a new Victorian, chateau-style Inverlochy Castle was built in nearby Torlundy by the Hobbs familiy. This has since been converted into a luxury hotel.
After some castle viewing it was time for lunch and souvenirs. High Street is a pedestrian only area that is full of pubs/take away etc. Great place to buy some Scottish stuff which we did. Then some fish and chips for lunch. Chips for Ryan of course well and a burger for me. Not exactly nutritious but we liked it.
Since the weather was improving we decided to head over to the Ben Nevis Gondola. Britain’s only mountain gondola transported us 650m on the slopes of Aonach Mor. A very windy hike up a small summit and panoramic views, then back to the gondola for “tea” which in our case meant some water and a chocolate brownie for Ryan, cake for Kris and something strongly chocately for Eric. I sample to make sure all of theirs was “safe” 😉
There was a wee bit o’wind
We were all now very wind blown and tired. But the originally scheduled agenda had us on Ben Nevis. So since it wasn’t raining, we thought well let’s just drive to the “base” and see if we can see anything. We did. Not exactly super clear but we can say we hiked on the tallest peak in Scotland.
Dinner at the Grog and Gruel pub on High Street. Kris had an ale. Who knew she’d ever drink beer? Mind you it was a damn good dark ale but wow. I had an oatmeal stout. Gotta love a place who knows how to make good beer. On the way back to the car we passed the village square. The local high school pipe band was playing. Just like at home there is no funding so they play for tourists and donations in the summer. I only recognize Scotland the Brave, the rest really does sound mostly the same to me. I could tell the marches from the jigs but not much else. And rookie error. I left the camera at the B&B because we’d been to the square already. Oh well, no pic of a piper again.
And finaly a funny pic we’ve managed to come across.
Off to Inverness tomorrow. Some cool castles and maybe a monster in a lake on the way. Wish us luck.