Disclaimer: Hubby is working hard in the USA this week and will not be able to proof this quality piece of work. All mistakes, words spelled incorrectly, exaggeration of the truth falls totally on the writer. I apologize now, just in case some mistake gets into this final product.
This will be the last of our Scottish vacation blogs. Now, only a distant memory. In our final two days, we spent driving the backroads through the beautiful highland countrysides. This again tested our nerves of steel and driving skills on the narrow Scottish roads.
Day Five: Cairngorms National Park, Strathspey Railway in Aviemore.
When we started planning this vacation we wanted to take the Jacobite steam train from Fort William to Mallaig. This popular route was sold out.
When we arrived at our accommodation we shuffled through the tourist information and found this steam train in Aviemore. We had planned on a day to Cairngorms National Park so we included this as our main plan for the day.
This was less busy with tourists than our boat ride on Loch Ness. The train also had planned that tour bus passengers would have their own dedicated rail car. This left plenty of room for walk up passengers like ourselves.
Prior to steaming down the rail everyone was out taking pictures of the steam engine.
Going through the countryside by steam train is slow and relaxing. The Sprey River slowly meanders along the valley next to the railway on one side. Cattle and sheep pastures line the other side of the railway. When we reached the end of the rail line, the steam engine unhooked and headed to the other end of the rail cars for our return trip.
We enjoyed this slow enjoyable ride in the morning. We spent the afternoon investigating the town of Aviemore. We found a nice coffee cafe where we enjoyed eating lunch on an outdoor balcony looking towards the National Park.
Day Six: Foyers, Fort Augustus, Caledonian Locks
Our last full day of vacation and we planned to go off the beaten path. When we stopped at the visitors center in Aviemore the day before the man behind the visitor information desk was a bit surprised at the route we had planned to take the next day.
“Not many tourists go on those roads.” he said looking worried.
We smiled and knew that is exactly what we wanted to hear.
We started our day in Daviot and headed towards Inverness. We linked up to the B862 that goes into Dores. Dores is nestled on the East side of the Loch Ness. We had learned earlier in the week that Dores is the residence of a man who has watched everyday for many years the Loch Ness in hopes to spotting the elusive monster. We slowly went through the town and linked up with road B852. This is a very, very narrow road that skirts the East shoreline of Loch Ness. Again this did not slow down the locals as they headed towards their daily activities at break neck speeds.
We stopped at a small campsite along this road with access to Loch Ness. We hiked down to the waters edge. The fog gave an eerie feel to the place. You could almost expect the monster to appear out of the fog at any moment.
The next stop was Easter Boleskine. Now, this place can give you the creeps if you read about the tales surrounding a house located there. We decided to stay on more sacred ground of the Frasier Cemetery. More to follow on this stop when I publish my Halloween blog. The fog started to lift as we walked through the centuries old graveyard overlooking the Loch Ness.
Next stop was Foyers. There is a waterfall located there that was written about by poet Robert Burns. This waterfall is nestled just off the road and a short hike to the most beautiful view. It is no wonder why Robert Burns was inspired to write about it. Our video and pictures don’t and couldn’t exhibit the true beauty of this location.
After a cup of coffee at the Foyers store and cafe. The road linked back up with B862. We started our climb into the windy highlands hills that skirt the Loch Ness. This road has some roadside parking that leads to hiking trails. We stopped to hike to the top of one of the hills overlooking the surrounding countryside. The views were breathtaking in all directions.
As we continued along B862 we viewed Fort Augustus built at the South end of the Loch Ness before we made our way down the steep roadway into town. In the picture below, you can make out the last of the boat locks where they connect to the canal.
The Fort is now an exclusive country club. Access to the grounds is restricted to members only.
We were now back into tourist country at Fort Augustus! Tour buses, campers, cars, vans all packed the parking lot and side streets of this small town. The streets were filled with tourist. The main attraction here is the lock system of the Caledonian Canal that links via waterway Inverness on the North to Corpach on the west coast of Scotland. A 97km (60 mile) long waterway through Lochs, canals and 26 boat locks. At Fort Augustus is a series of five locks adjusting the water levels for boats entering and exiting Loch Ness.
We are not strangers to locks coming from The Netherlands, but having five “steps” is something we are not use to seeing coming from our very flat country. It was fun and interesting to watch as the water levels changed in each lock and the boat was “lifted” or “lowered” to the next level to continue on its journey. Even with all the tourist lining the locks we would recommend this stop to anyone who loves water, boating or engineering.
After a lunch stop we headed back the way we came on the B862 going through the small villages of Errogie and East Croachy. Somewhere the road changed to B851 and we just enjoyed the views of farmlands as we watched for oncoming locals speeding towards us. These backroads showed us the remoteness and beauty of the area. We gained an appreciation for those who live in these parts of the highlands as it can’t be easy in winter conditions getting around.
We enjoyed our week in the Scottish Highlands around Inverness. We came away with some wonderful memories, trout fishing stories, wool sweaters, and new tastes for potato scones and Orkney Oat cakes.
Do you have summer vacation plans? Memories of a vacation that was just perfect? We would love to hear about them. Share in our comment section below.
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