June 14, 15 (Friday, Saturday)
We left Glasgow and drove to Inverness. We selected back roads and drove slowly along very beautiful farm lands in Scotland. Inverness is the home to Loch Ness monster. Ness River flows through the city of Inverness and connects to Loch Ness Lake. Loch Ness Lake is a thirty seven mile long lake. It is considered the most famous lake in the world. Many people in the past have claimed they have seen the prehistoric Loch Ness monster in this lake. Apart from these stories, the Loch Ness Lake is a very beautiful lake. The area surrounding the lake has become very attractive to holiday makers.
On our way to Inverness, we stopped at Blair Atholl , a small village. This village is well known for the Blair castle. We decided to take a brek and do a castle tour.
Blair castle is the ancestral home of the Clan Murray, and was historically the seat of their chief, the Duke of Atholl. The current (12th) Duke, Bruce Murray, lives in South Africa.
The oldest part of the castle is the six-storey Cummings Tower, which has some 13th-century character, though it was largely built in the 15th century. The extensions which now form the central part of the castle were first added in the 16th century. The apartments to the south were added in the mid-18th century to designs by architects John Douglas and James Winter. The south-east range, incorporating the clock tower, was rebuilt by Archibald Elliot after a fire in 1814. Finally, the castle arrived at its present form in the 1870s, when David Bryce renovated the whole building in a Scots Baronial style, and added the ballroom.
The castle has been open to the public since 1936. Its many rooms feature important collections of weapons, hunting trophies, souvenirs of the Murray clan, paintings, furniture, and needlework collected by the Murray family over many generations.
The castle also provides the garrison for the Atholl Highlanders, the private army of the Duke of Atholl, noted as the only legal private army in Europe. The Castle and the Atholl Estates were used in the 2008 reality television series “Conquer the Castle”. We spent nearly two hours going through various rooms of the castle. We were not allowed to take photographs, except in the ballroom.
We arrived in Inverness in the late afternoon and booked into a smaller hotel outside the city. The city was much smaller compared to Liverpool and Glasgow. Scotland is famous for its Scotch whisky industry. There are many distilleries producing single malt whisky which are world famous. We were planning to visit one or two distilleries. There are three distilleries closer to Inverness. On the second day, we visited the Glen Ord distillery and did a tour of the distillery. Again we were not allowed take photos inside the Distillery. The tour included a free tasting of whisky samples. We bought a few small bottles of whisky as souvenirs, but these bottles are available in every whisky shop in Scotland and every Scottish town has one or more whisky shops.
We learned that all the distilleries are owned by a big company and they are connected to each other. Each distillery has its own technique of making or distilling whisky. Glen Ord creates its own brand of Whisky, but we came to know that Johnny Walker also uses some of the whisky products made in Glen Ord.
We made a brief visit to the Loch Ness lake to take a few photographs and see whether we can find the monster emerging from the waters. There are many boat cruises on the lake and looking for the monster has become a big tourist attraction.
When we left Inverness, we took the longer route along the lake and drove for nearly one hour stopping at different places along the lake.
Our next destination is Edinburgh. We will write about it in our next entry.