Saturday, 29 August 2015

Day10 - Isle of Skye to Boat of Garten

Date: Monday 24th August 2015
Route: Staffin, Isle of Skye to  Boat of Garten (via Portree & Loch Ness)
Our Listening Pleasure:  Late Music, Dennis Diken & The Bell Sound
Miles today: 161
Total Mileage: 1,474

Packing up to head back on the road
Today we had to say goodbye to the Higgins’ and Minty purchased some goodies from The Wee Quilter, after falling in love with the Highland Cow designs and a quilted picture of a dinosaur. 

Open for Business after a weekend with us!

The Wee Quilter's Studio

The day was bright, so the clouds did not hide any of the spectacular scenery as we made our way back towards the Skye bridge. The photos really only capture a tiny part of the awesomeness of the scenery.
The Cuillins on the Isle of Skye
Isle of Skye

Stand out tree in Portree
We made a pit stop in the island’s capital, Portree where The Beeb had seen a music shop. It was a quick pit stop and we were on our way again.
View of Portree

Just one of many scenic pics

Our route today took us all the way along the A87 to Loch Ness, stopping for lunch at The Cluanie Inn in Glenmoriston in the shadow of the mountains.

This pub is a busy stop off point for many, and it was fairly crowded but we have to say the toilets were abysmal! 

Cluanie Inn
Fed and watered we continued past rocky mountains and deep green, thick forests and up to Loch Ness.

Urquhart Castle, on the banks of Loch Ness, is another historic sight and we stopped to take a look. Dating back from around the 13th Century, has a bitter history with the McDonalds and the Grants and it was abandoned and blown up in 1692 to stop the Jacobites from taking it. There is still quite  a lot of the castle wall standing, and it looks impressive on the banks of Loch Ness and you can imagine how it looked 500 years ago!. 

Our view when the film curtains were drawn back
We started the tour with a short film about the history of the castle, and at the end, as they explained about the castle going up in flames with visuals, the curtains drew back to reveal the castle in all its glory outside. It was stunning to see. 

We then had the opportunity to explore the castle remains and the grounds. 
Urquhart Castle

The Grant Tower is the most spectacular part of the remains, and you can climb down into the cellar by some very narrow and steep steps, and also climb up in the tower and get some great views across the Loch and the castle.
The Grant Tower (on the left)

View from the Grant Tower - on the remains of the castle

View from the Grant Tower - Loch Ness

The Beeb in the castle ruins

Minty in the castle ruins

The Beeb catches some rays in Urquhart Castle
Back on the road, we headed North again, along the banks of the rest of Loch Ness. Unfortunately Nessie was not in a playful mood today, so we didn’t get the chance to see her. We did make a brief stop at the Nessie Centre and saw the submarine of a diver who had tried to find Nessie back in the 80’s.

The Nessie Submarine

Skirting Inverness, we headed down the A9 to our hotel for tonight – in Boat of Garten, a small village in the Aviemore area of the Cairngorms.
Welcome to Boat of Garten

Our hotel, The Boat was the least expensive hotel on our holiday, and the best we had stayed in so far. We got some pretty good accommodation for our buck!

The first thing was the eye catching free standing bath! 
Would love a bathroom like this one!

The room was very comfortable and in a quiet part of the hotel (not that the hotel was noisy mind you!). We had arrived early evening so we had time and enough daylight to take a wee wander around despite the light rain. 

Selfie in the rain

The River Spey
After a casual walk down to the River Spey we then headed to the area at the back of the hotel where there is a railway station from which you can take a steam train to Aviemore. No more trains tonight, but we did potter around the railway platform and carriages. 
The station and railway (Strathspey Railway) is maintained by volunteers and they have kept the station in immaculate condition, and in a style from the 1950’s.

The Railway Station

The Railway Station - very colourful

The Beeb waits for the next train

Minty - what a rebel!!!

We spent the evening in the hotel bar, and despite telling us they closed at 11pm, we had a few beers well after then! A Japanese party demanded the “most expensive malt you have” – you could see the manager rubbing his hands together! Our barman tonight was from Transylvania (and yes we did all the jokes) and he was great. He shared a lot of information with us, and gave us a few hints and tips should we ever be in Romania (which we are sure to be in the not so distant future).

The Boat at Boat of Garten

This was without doubt the best hotel we have stayed in on this trip (we don’t count staying with pals as a hotel stay!!). The ambience was great, the staff brilliant and the manager was really hands on and got involved with everything and we felt this was not because he had to, but because he genuinely wanted to be involved and be among the guests.

We slept well.

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