Edinburgh's Hogmany is a well known party, but since we crossed that off our list last year, we decided to do something a bit different this year for the ringing in of the bells. And good thing too, as ferocious winds ended up canceling Edinburgh's party!
Patrick and I rented a little log cabin on the shore of Loch Ness with our friends Marty and Morag. Quaint and cosy - it was an old Ghillies cottage on the Genmoriston Estate that used to be house of the man who worked as the game keeper for the estate. With views of Loch Ness from most windows, it was a pretty idyllic place to while away a few days.
We spend a few low key days up here, exploring the little towns of Invermoriston and Fort Augustus. Back in the day I think Fort Augustus was known for the big Fort built there in the 1700s, but when there are so many historic sites in this country, sometimes they end up changing hands...I think the Fort is now being converted into condos! The feature that caught our eye was the locks - the Caledonian Canal that connects Fort William to Inverness passes through Fort Augustus in a dramatic series of locks stepping down to Loch Ness. Pretty cool.
We also took a drive up to the Isle of Skye which is just off the west coast, and is the largest and best known of the Scotland's Inner Hebrides. Skye is known as Eilean a' Cheò in Gaelic - the Misty Isle. So true! While we were there we really had a hard time seeing beyond the end of the car, but it added a rather ethereal dimension to our exploration. Skye is revered for its scenery and wildlife and is well known as a one of Scotland's must see destinations - it was beautiful, but in a rather lonely and foreboding kind of way. Maybe I'm just partial to the life and majesty of our Rockies, but I wouldn't say Skye took my breath away...but perhaps our fog cover just didn't do it justice.
One of the really great things we did see, during a break in the fog, was the Eilean Donan Castle. This castle sits on the shore of Loch Duich, just before you cross the bridge into Skye. As one of Scotland's most-photographed castles, we were obliged to spend a bit of time dodging the rain and snapping a collection of the photos. There is something about old stone castles that just captures the imagination!
For New Year's we decided to go along to the Invermoriston ceilidh (the town dance). The lady who rented us our cabin assured us the entire town would be there, and I think she was right. We definitely stood out as the only foreigners in the crown (2 Canadians and 2 New Zealanders), but luckily Morag's getting to be a pretty good ceilidh dancer, so she kind of helped us blend in.
That pretty much sums up the highlights - the rest was a bit of book reading, movie watching, game playing and eating!
Anyway, hope you all enjoyed your Christmas celebrations, and best wishes from both Patrick and I for the coming year. We'll be back home this fall, so see you then!