And on the third day, we made it to the Highlands.
We left Glasgow and drove 172 miles along the A2 (scenic route) to Inverness. It was amazing, the highlands are unbelievably beautiful and magical. The weather was a sporadic sunny then rainy, but that meant that we were able to see a ton of rainbows. On our route we drove past five different lochs: Loch Lomond, Loch Leven, Loch Linnhe, Loch Lochy and of course Loch Ness.
The Scottish Highlands, A’ Ghàidhealtachd, in Gaelic, means “Land of the Gaels.” Gaelic is the ethno-linguistic group that predominated Ireland, and then traveled to Scotland via the Isle of Man. The Scottish are descendants of Ireland, and came over as a tribe hundreds of years ago. The highlands have one of the lowest population densities of Europe and Britian’s highest mountain: Ben Navis.
It was really cold and rainy when we drove through the highlands, so we didn’t go out for a walk, but we were blown away but its beauty. It has purples and reds in the dry grass, and random bodies of water throughout the fields. I highly recommend it as a travel destination, and only wish that London was closer to the highlands.
After the highlands, is Loch Ness. Of course Loch Ness is best known for it’s mysterious resident Nessie, the supposed Loch Ness monster. Nessie began to gain popularity in 1933, prior to that the most popular story of Nessie involves St. Colombia. As the story goes, St. Colombia heard of a monster in Loch Ness and ordered one of his followers to swim across. Nessie appeared and moved to attack the swimmer, but St. Colombia made a cross symbol with his arms and bid him to leave. The monster immediately stopped and then retreated. After 1933, more serious sightings and stories began to circulate, in 1934 there was a photo taken that is famously known as the Surgeon’s Photo, because the photographer was only known as “a doctor.”
This photo was proven as a hoax in 1994, it was meant to embarrass the newspaper who circulated it. The newspaper had publicly ridiculed Marmaduke Wetherall, a hunter who searched for Nessie and had worked for the paper, and in response his family took this photo and then submitted it to the newspaper as evidence of Nessie being real. The only criticism of this theory is that it doesn’t make sense to let 60 years go by before the hoax was revealed.
Some believe that the idea of Nessie is derived from Gaelic folklore of Kelpies. These mythical creatures are said to come out of the water in the shape of horses, and once they have a rider, they run back into the water and disappear with their prize. This myth was apparently meant to keep children out of the water.
There has been a lot of research into Nessie, the most interesting of which have been inconclusive sonar readings of the lake. There have also been several attempts to plant fake Nessie’s in the lake, such as eels and seals. Aside from Nessie, Loch Ness is the largest volume of water of all the Loch’s and has more fresh water than all of the Lakes of England and Wale’s combined.
After having lunch on the side of the road, we headed into Inverness, the next big city in Scotland north of Glasgow. We were pretty tired from our travels and overwhelmed with the amount of beauty we saw in one day with the Highlands and the Loch’s. After parking the car we walked to a pub to watch a football match, but it was rather quiet and unenthusiastic. For dinner we ate at a Indian restaurant and learned to never eat Indian food in small towns, as the food was over priced and disappointing. Feeling pretty dismayed with dinner, and just tired overall, we convinced ourselves to go out for one more pint. Okay, so Jeff convinced me out for one more pint. We went to a pub right by our Bed and Breakfast and it turned out to be the local hangout. They had really good popular songs playing, and some talented pool players to watch.
Being outsiders, we had a few drunk locals come up to chat with us. Because they had thick accents and were slurring their speech, we had a hard time understanding them. One of the conversations went like this:
Another man came over and I thought he said “You should left your shirt up,” but after some refusals by me and repeats from him, I realized he in fact was saying I should loosen up. In retrospect, he could of started off by saying lift your shirt up, and after I said no, he switched to you should loosen up… hmmm.
And after that, we went to our bed and slept, cause tomorrow was another day of driving, and we need to get to Edinburgh.