Visit to Urquhart Castle Scotland #TuesdayTravels

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Urquhart Castle, subject of today’s Tuesday Travels, has been on my list of “must see” places for a long time, so I was thrilled to find a shore excursion that included Urquhart Castle, Loch Ness and Culloden Moor.

Urquhart Castle
The castle’s visitor’s center was our first stop after lunch. We got off the motorcoach and entered the visitor’s center where we went into a large room to view a film about the castle. At the end of the movie, the screen went up and the row of curtains at the front opened up to reveal a stunning panorama of the ruined castle situated on the edge of the loch. A brilliant piece of showmanship.

Medieval catappultThe history of the castle spans more than four centuries. Founded in the 1200s and destroyed in the 1600s, Urquhart was the target of raids by Clan MacDonald and was at times captured by the English. At one time, it was one of the largest castles in Scotland and is still an impressive ruin. I took a number of photos on the meandering walk down to the ruin, including a stop by the Medieval catapult. In 1297, after the castle was captured by the English under Edward I, Sir Andrew de Moray laid siege to the castle, presumably using a similar catapult. The castle was occupied by British troops in 1690 during one of the Jacobite uprisings. The soldiers blew it up when they left, and the castle became a romantic ruin.

Today’s visitors can wander through the rooms and climb some of the remaining, very narrow stairways. Here’s a view from inside the tower.

Urquhart TowerCan you imagine living there? I can’t imagine it was much fun, since castles were cold and drafty, but you’d have to work hard to find a house with a better view!

Urquhart Castle view

Cruising Loch Ness #Scotland #TuesdayTravels

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It has been a couple of months since I did a Travel Tuesday post, but I’m finally picking up where I left off in Scotland; this week Loch Ness!

Loch Ness

First glimpse of Loch Ness

We got our first glimpses of Loch Ness from the bus. As you can see from the photo, the weather was quite overcast and threatening, though it never did rain while we were there. Our first stop was Urqhaurt Castle, which I’ll write about another Tuesday. I have too many pictures to fit them all in one post.

Loch Ness

Another view of the loch

Loch Ness is quite large, extending twenty-three miles. As the bus wound its way around the loch, we craned our necks and enjoyed the different views. It really is beautiful country.

Ducks in Loch Ness

After our exploration of Urquhart Castle, we moved to the little dock to await our sightseeing boat. At the water’s edge, we spotted this mother duck and her little ones. Pretty soon mama and two of the ducklings had waddled out of the water to see what the tourists were up to. We knew what the little beggars wanted–food. Some of the people in our group had bought packets of chips which the little ducks were happy to chow down on. Everyone got a kick out of them. So cute.

Loch Ness ducks

Feeding time

The sightseeing boats weren’t the only vessels out on the water. We spotted this sailboat not far from shore.

Sailboat on Loch Ness

In case you’ve ever wondered how chilly it can get in Scotland in July… yes, those are ear muffs she’s wearing! I was huddled into the hood of my jacket, too.

ear muffs

ear muffs in July

By the time out boat arrived, I was chilled and happy to sit inside where it was warm, so I’m afraid I don’t have any more pictures of the loch. Lots of people were also happy to sit inside the boat with a cup of hot coffee, tea or cocoa, though the hardy ones stood outside for better views and photographs. The next day I came down with bronchitis. Bummer. For some reason being out on the water when I’m not at my healthiest brings on a bad cold or bronchitis overnight. My friend Janet Cornelow, who was with me in New Orleans on our ill-fated cruise on the Mississippi in 2010, said it has something to do with the barometric pressure on the water. I don’t know but I’m filing this under “things to remember”.

sightseeing boat

More from Scotland next week.