Glencoe–the Beautiful Valley | UK Adventure Part VIII

The afternoon sky was growing warmer as the sun climbed overhead, burning away the haziness of the morning’s clouds. The memory of our “leg-stretcher” in Fort William was fading, and all I longed for was to get out of the car.

Jay had talked Glencoe up from the beginning of the trip–no, even before that. “They call it the Switzerland of Scotland,” he told me. We were going to love it.

I heard no trumpet; I saw no sign heralding the entrance. There was no abrupt change in scenery–but suddenly we had arrived. It seemed so small–and very much like most anything else we’d seen along the drive. Beautiful, but not especially so.

Ken steered the car along a winding, narrow road, my mind wondering how two cars could possibly pass by each other. Tall trees and thick shade obscured any vision of what the area looked like. And then we came to our bed and breakfast in the woods.

Stop the car. Now.

So this was Glencoe.


Jay was right. Words and photos don’t really give it justice.

After unpacking and taking a bit of a rest, we endeavored to find the “lost valley” between these mountains.

We followed a stream bed up the hill.

For a group of non-hikers, we did pretty well climbing over rocks and scaling cliffs–ok, we didn’t really scale any cliffs. But it sure felt like it sometimes.

And there it was, the lost valley.

Bethany and I opted to stay on the hill while the boys descended to the valley. Those two specks are Jay and Ken.

We almost made the hike injury free–until Bethany slipped and fell on her knees on the way down. Ouch.

It felt good to be back on flat ground.

We were famished by the time we finished the hike, so we grabbed dinner at this local hiker’s pub.

I felt about the same.

But the delights of the day weren’t over. On the drive back to the cabin, I yelled again–stop the car.

Um…can you get any more pretty postcard than this??

Words don’t even start…

I think Jay was wrong, though. Switzerland doesn’t have anything on Glencoe.

Last stop is the Falkirk Wheel…stay tuned!

Goals for 2010–Must I really set some? » Pittsburgh Wedding Photographers | Birchtree Photography Blog - […] since every post should have a picture, here’s a random one from our Scotland trip last summer. If we climbed those mountains (sort of), surely I can accomplish some of these goals? Posted […]

Caryn - Beautiful photos, Mary!

Kara - it is beautiful – I especially liked the little waterfall picture, where it looks like enchanted frosting – but I'm gonna have to disagree with "Switzerland doesn't have anything on Glencoe." I know I'm not a marvelous photographer, but I think the snow capped peaks speak for themselves.

Loch Ness Minus the Monster | UK Adventure Part VII

After a splendid day climbing around castles and dining in Inverness, we were ready to do it all over again.

So, we made our way along the lochs–think lakes–to the famous Loch Ness. Naturally, this was the very definition of tourist trap. I didn’t see many shops or cafes that weren’t touting some sort of connection with the fabled monster, so we tried our best to bypass all of that. We failed.

Nevertheless, the day was really quite lovely…and it became lovelier when we made it to Glencoe. But, I’m going to devote an entire blog post later to that lovely spot of earth because it’s really worth it!

Loch Ness is a very deep lake, which makes for good reflections. Unfortunately, we saw it on a hazy day.
Loch Ness

The biggest tourist tra–I mean, local castle.

I thought this was kind of neat.

Urquhart Castle has a rather sad history–lots of switching hands and bloody battles. The last owners blew the gate up so no one would use it anymore.

I climbed down to the shoreline, despite there being a gate in the way (hey there was a path).

Drive by shooting–basically there’s several lochs along the way from Loch Ness.

Massive memorial in the middle of nowhere.

Quaint town of Fort William. We lunched and souvenir shopped here.

13th Century Inverlochy Castle.
Inverlochy Castle

Now, you must stay tuned, for the best is yet to come…

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Christina Shaffer - Beautiful photography! I will have to contact you in the future to have you capture my grown daughters and myself.

A Round About Way to Inverness | UK Adventure Part VI

After clambering around Dunnottar Castle and spending a good night in Aberdeen, we were ready to hit up some more local castles. If you’re just tuning in, you can get caught up on my UK adventure by clicking the Travels category.

Finally, we saw the light of day. I was beginning to doubt the sun would ever join us on our ride around Scotland, but the next morning was beautiful.

We were greeted at our first castle–Tolquhon–by this friendly face.

Tolquhon Castle

Was this hook used for torture, hanging meat, or the guard’s strength and conditioning exercises? Your guess is as good as mine.

Mmmm…I could live here–if only there was a roof.

Jay was prepping for Loch Ness with this ‘Nessie impression.

After Tolquhon Castle we stopped by the Lone Head Stone Circle. It’s just what it sounds like (apparently it was used for cremation).

Next up was Huntley Castle.
Huntley Castle

Where you could still see some amazing detail (and claw-like clouds).

Ye Olde Privy

The third and last castle of the day was Balvenie. By now the rain clouds had also returned.
Balvenie Castle

Not much remained here.

We didn’t pay our fees, so I had to do some grounds work.

A local repair man at the castle told us we must visit the nearby distillery. It wasn’t on our plans, but we decided to go for it.

Turns out it was the world famous Glenfiddich whisky distillery.

Looks like Ken got into a barrel before the tour started.

The tour was actually pretty interesting–and hot!

Now I know all about single malt vs. blended, cooperages, and the head, heart, and tail of whisky…

Finally we drove the rest of the way to Inverness and arrived as the sun was setting.

Coming and going.

And Jay did what boys do best–throw things into water, preferably slimy rocks with plants attached to them.

Mr. {dead} Jellyfish.

The sun was still bright at 9 o’clock.

We dined in a little pub. Looks like someone else had hoped to get a table, too.

Stay tuned for Loch Ness…coming up next!

Stephanie Fay - I'm so jealous of you! The UK is far too amazing. Beautiful pics too :)