Saturday, 27 April 2013

Rabbie's Tour of Scotland: Day 3

Itinerary for day 3 of Rabbies' Tour of Scotland's Western Highlands
Itinerary for day 3 of Rabbies' Tour of Scotland's Western Highlands


Legend:

    The driving route.
            The itinerary stops.

__________________________________________________________


  Red Hills
Arrival: 09:40.

We made our 1st stop to view Red Hills (Scottish: Beinn na Caillich) from highway A87. It may not be Red Hills. I do this from distant memory. This is an educated guess.


Red Hills, Isle of Sky, Scotland, UK


  Eilean Donan Castle
Arrival: 10:25.

We actually stopped at  Eilean Donan castle on day 1 of our tour. But we stopped at the opposite side of the loch where the entrance is. We could have visited there on day 1, with fewer stops today, the timing is better.

This 13th century castle is especially picturesque because it's located in the middle of the loch for better defense (rather than for beauty). The loch acts like a moat, just wider with no maintenance cost or concern it would dry out. Architect would say functional architecture is beautiful in itself. What about the gorgeous view of the loch from within the castle for the dwellers?

It's being restored, so we would have to put up with the eyesore of the scaffolding and green tarp.

Eilean Donan Castle, Scotland, UK

Eilean Donan Castle, Scotland, UK

Eilean Donan Castle, Scotland, UK


View of Loch from Eilean Donan Castle, Scotland, UK

View of Loch from Eilean Donan Castle, Scotland, UK

View of Loch from Eilean Donan Castle, Scotland, UK



  Fort Augustus
Arrival: 13:00.

This is a town/village where its loch is far better known. I've never heard of Fort Augustus until this trip (a name, I've no doubt, came from Emperor Augustus). This ancient fort is located southwest of Loch Ness. Eureka! I hear you.

I thought Loch Ness is one of those thousand of lakes in Scotland that's remote and desolate. But then one mustn't forget the alluring power of supernatural forces (real or imagined).

We need imaginary monster as much as we need childhood imaginary friend. Great help for tourism. So far in this 3-day trip of Scot Highland, this place was the busiest I had seen. Far more than its nearby southern neighbour of Fort William (which we visited on day 1). Hallelujah Nessie!

Loch Ness, Scotland, UK
The mysterious, and famous Loch Ness

For a village (pop < 1000), it has an impressive size former St. Benedict Abbey. I guess Abby tend to build in quiet place, and the original population probably grew out of it.

Fort Augustus Abbey, Scotland, UK
St. Benedict Abbey, aka Fort Augustus Abbey

Fort Augustus, Scotland, UK
Nessie pulls in the tourists.
It has the biggest tourist numbers in the 3-day tour (at this time of the year).
Anywhere else in this tour, we were the only tour group.

Former church, Fort Augustus, Scotland, UK
This charming chapel/church is now a souvenir shop. If you're looking for kilts and what not. You're in the right place.

This is a trellis/wire frame for plants to grow on. In milder seasons, I imagine Nessie is much more colourfully inviting. In colder climate, it sheds all its plants and left with a skeletal framework, in a manner speaking.

Sculpture of Nessie, Fort Augustus, Scotland, UK Sculpture of Nessie, Fort Augustus, Scotland, UK

Perhaps the things that I find most interesting (amusing is probably the right word) is that the village centre is occupied by a lock (not a loch. But the lock is used for the loch. So the lock is the key to the loch. Capeesh? You don't understand capeesh?).

Boat at lock, Fort Augustus, Scotland, UK


While I know there's zero chance of spotting Nessie. At least, I've been to Loch Ness and did some Nessie spotting.


  Commando Memorial and Ben Nevis
Arrival: 14:30.

This Commando Memorial occupies a commanding position in the surrounding of Scottish Highland in Spean Bridge village (not far from Fort William that we visited on Day 1). It's dedicated to the memory of British Commando Forces during WW2.

Commando Memorial, Scotland, UK


From here, you could see Ben Nevis - the highest peak in the British Isles.


Ben Nevis, view from Commando Memorial, Scotland, UK

Ben Nevis, view from Commando Memorial, Scotland, UK

Ben Nevis, view from Commando Memorial, Scotland, UK


It doesn't take a geologist or an active imagination to see that the top part of Scotland is separated from the rest of UK. The faultline is so straight, you can draw a straight line across it and it matches perfectly.

Another thing that's irresistible to conclude is that point A on the map below was once upon a time (measured in millions of years), coincided with point B because the shoreline discontinuity seems a wee bit abrupt. I'm saying that this top part of Scotland is grinding on the bottom half of Scotland as it moves in the northeast direction, buckling these 2 halves of contacts of Scotlands into Highlands with rugged peaks.

If you can grab the top of Scotland above the straight line and slide it down slowly and gingerly such that point A will align with point B, the map of Scotland will look "normal" again (any move other than gingerly will cause the landmass to produce an earthquake with a Richter Scale of 10).

Anyway, that's my theory.

map of Scotland


  Laggan Dam
Arrival: 15:40.

This Laggan Dam was built in 1934. It's 210m long, and 48m high.

I can imagine what a sight it would be when the dam let its spillways open. This happens when the dam is overflowing. I don't imagine this occurs too frequent. The dam looks nearly full to me (I'm the half dam full rather than half dam empty kinda guy. Yes, I said "dam full!").

Laggan Dam, Scotland, UK



  Strathmashie Forest
Arrival: 16:00.

This forest locates right at the western edge of the large Cairngorms National Park. The highway A86 only penetrated a few kms of the national park before turning south to merge into highway A9, which skirts the western edge of the national park (see map up the top).

Before turning south into A9, I think we stopped here because Pattack Falls is right next to highway A86 (remember Brides Veil Falls is also located right next to highway A855 when we stopped there on day 2?).

Pattack Falls, Strathmashie Forest, Cairngorms National Park, Scotland, UK


Pattack Falls, Strathmashie Forest, Cairngorms National Park, Scotland, UK
Pattack Falls, Strathmashie Forest, Cairngorms National Park, Scotland, UK
You can see our ride from the waterfall

Strathmashie Forest, Cairngorms National Park, Scotland, UK

Pattack Falls, Strathmashie Forest, Cairngorms National Park, Scotland, UK
The falls carve out a wee bit gorge

Strathmashie Forest, Cairngorms National Park, Scotland, UK



This is the last stop for the Rabbies' 3-day Isle of Sky and Western Highlands tour. After this, we headed for Rabbie's Edinburgh office.

Despite the very unsettled weather - which should be at this time of year - the whole trip was memorable (perhaps not despite of, but because of the weather). Of course, the best thing about the low season is that there's no crowd. Everywhere we went - except for one - we were the only group.

Highlights of the 3-day tour? Quiraing, Glencoe, Ben Nevis, Eilean Donan Castle, Loch Ness, and best of all, making a wee bit use the phrase "wee bit".



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