This was the longest single day of driving, squeezed in to make everything else fit. It included finishing travelling west to east along the top of Scotland, with John O’Groats featuring, and also, from there, being able to look across to the southern Orkneys, ancestral home to the surname Halley (Halle) with its ?Viking origins, as per Keith Halleys letter.
Then driving south down the east coast of upper Scotland, very pretty, looking out into the North Sea, detouring around Inverness to arrive by smaller roads at Drumnadrochit on Loch Ness. (Thankyou iPone GPS👍🏼). We had a peep at Urquhart Castle (the ruins of) without doing a tour.
Urquhart Castle was once one of Scotland’s largest castles. Its remains include a tower house – the most recent building on the site – that commands splendid views of the famous loch and Great Glen.
Urquhart witnessed considerable conflict throughout its 500 years as a medieval fortress and its history from the 1200s to the 1600s was particularly bloody. Following the invasion of King Edward I of England in 1296, it fell into English hands and was then reclaimed and lost again. In the 1300s it figured prominently in the Scots’ struggle for independence and came under the control of Robert the Bruce after he became King of Scots in 1306. In the 1400s and 1500s, the castle and glen were frequently raided from the west by the ambitious MacDonald Lords of the Isles.
Loch Ness felt wide and deep as we passed by its lower half, and on to Oban for the night.
We also passed through Spean Bridge, which fact re-lit my romantic recall, of Ewan Cameron, in “The Flight of the Heron”, espcaping his captivity by the English, and disappearing into the surrounding Great Glen. These parts are replete with Jacobite Rising history. General Wade of the Hanoverian army was brilliant with his road and bridge building, although his bridge over the Spean, called the High Bridge, is now in ruins.
It was wonderful arriving at the Oban Bay Hotel. I chose it because it had a full length floor to ceiling, full width, picture window looking out into Oban Bay. I remember Mum saying how beautiful it was. We had an incredible “Room with a View”, four poster bed, and lounge room. The Lismore room! named after one of the islands in the mouth of Loch Linnhe, the Island of Mull being the other large island in our viewscape.The view looked up the heart of Oban Bay with plenty of boating interest coming and going.
Downstairs, the large picture window with same view, contained bar lounge tables at which sat some older folk (with dogs allowed inside in Scotland) well dressed, locals and also groups of young people. Great way to enjoy a drink and light meal at the end of the day.