A recent visit to Scotland found us traveling from Fort William to Inverness along the great glen. We drove up the west side of Scotland through Dumfries, Ayr (a very cool town!) and spent about 5 minutes in Glasgow. After being in the countryside with the sheep, rolling hills, and beautiful scenery, Glasgow held no appeal on this trip. We continued up Loch Lomond (will I ever get that song out of my head!) to Oban. Bill went to the distillery and I went to the glass factory. He bought a fine bottle of Oban’s finest and I came out with a cut crystal decanter – great minds think alike! We continued north and fell in love with the trip from Fort William to Inverness! This is the Scotland I’d imagined.
We stayed in Fort William for several days while exploring the area. The town sits on a hill facing what appears to be a river but is actually an inlet from the Atlantic Ocean. To the south is Glencoe, the site of the famous MacDonald Massacre where in 1692, the British soldiers attempted to kill everyone in the village in the middle of the night. Aside from this grim history, Glencoe remains one of the more popular hiking and scenic places in Scotland. Be sure not to miss the Glencoe visitor’s museum with a great little movie about the area.
The Fort William Tourist Information Center was a wealth of information. We asked for a recommendation for accommodations and the kind lady helped us choose a B&B right in town. Fort William has a nice walking/shopping area that is closed to cars. Dinner at MacTavish’s one evening – a touristy spot with a piper, haggis, and a singer. Nearby Glenfinnan is where Bonnie Prince Charlie raised his flag and started the “rising” which ended at Culloden in 1745. The memorial is in a beautiful setting and worth the stop. The train to Mallaig stops here and the famous viaduct (featured in the Harry Potter movies and several TV programs) is an engineering marvel.
Heading north, we came to Spean Bridge with it’s memorial erected to honor the elite soldiers who lost their lives in WWII. This is a nice little village and a great place to stop for an early lunch when travelling from Fort William.
Driving up the glen, you pass the inlet from the Atlantic through several locks and connecting with Loch Ness and the North Sea. Driving through forests on both sides, we were reminded of driving up the Columbia River Gorge in Oregon. This drive is simply gorgeous, even in the windy rain of May. We stopped at Drumnadrochit, another small village and looked out over Loch Ness. Much to our dismay, Nessie did not make an appearance, but we spent a good deal of time looking!
Our last stop along the glen was at Castle Urquart – another famous castle ruin. The structure sits at water’s edge and is still an impressive site to visit. The cold wind was simply howling when we stopped, so we cut it short and hopped back in the car.
Being a fan of the Outlander series by Diana Gabaldon, – a good deal of my time was spent looking into the forest and up the small valleys, certain that I’d see Claire and Jamie on horseback. But like Nessie, they are hard to find. Scotland is an amazing place and well appreciated by this American Scot. If you go, by all means, take the road from Fort William to Inverness.
Photo at top of article: C:\Users\Cheryl\Pictures\photos free\Scotland Glen Finnan.jpg