We left Oban and headed east and then south through Loch Lomond and the Trossachs National Park. We stopped at the pretty town of Inveraray which is located on the banks of Loch Fyne before heading to Newton Mearns for lunch. We didn’t have time to look in the town, but we visited Waterstones which is in a small shopping centre on just one floor before moving on to our next destination of Ayr.
Before we left Oban we had time to go up to McCaig’s Tower, which was erected by a wealthy banker, John Stuart McCaig, whose intention was to provide work for the town’s stonemasons during the winter. Sadly he died of a heart attack before the tower could be finished, so only the outer wall stands. The position up on the hill overlooking the town gives some great views.
Below – left: Cairndow, right (top and bottom): Loch Awe
Next up we walked to Argyle Street to the Waterstones there. We had around an hour to spare before our train back to Oban, and it had started to rain quite heavily by this time, so what better way to keep dry than in a book shop?! This Waterstones is set over three floors – the outside of the building is attractive and the inside has been refurbished recently and looks very smart!
We only had a few hours in Glasgow and hardly scratched the surface. Although we had been to Glasgow before it was a long time ago for both of us so we are planning to return at some stage and explore the city properly!
Merchants House was founded in the 17th century to give charity to “decayed and distressed” Merchants and Craftsmen of the city, and still helps with charitable donations today.
The City Chambers building was constructed between 1882 and 1888 and has served as a government building since it opened shortly after completion.
The Walter Scott Monument was completed in 1837 and was the first ever monument to be erected in honour of the famous Scottish author.
Currently reading: Bookworm: A Memoir of Childhood Reading by Lucy Mangan
The forecast today was for heavy rain so we hopped on the West Highland Line to Glasgow. The trip from Oban takes just over three hours and passes through some beautiful scenery – it must be one of the prettiest railway lines there are. On arrival in Glasgow the weather was much better so we walked to Sauchiehall Street, stopping for lunch at the Hard Rock Café. I don’t often have burgers but did today… although I didn’t splash out on the 24 carat gold-leaf version (seriously!). The Waterstones in Sauchiehall Street is the largest bookshop in Scotland and is set over five floors in an attractive building.
The Hard Rock Café
(It might seem an odd thing to share photos of, but I think the building is quite attractive inside!).
We left Kyle of Lochalsh and headed for the Isle of Skye, stopping on the way at the picturesque Eilean Donan. The first castle was built here in the 13th century and was added to over the years, but it fell into a state of disrepair and was empty for years. It was purchased in 1911 and renovated by a man called Lt Colonel John Macrae-Gilstrap and the restoration took 21 years to complete. After taking some photographs we headed for Skye, where we spent the day exploring this beautiful island.
After leaving Skye we headed south to our next destination of Oban, driving across to Fort William and past Ben Nevis on the way. We arrived in Oban in the early evening and visited the Waterstones which is located in an attractive former hotel built in 1891.
Isle of Skye – Portree
Isle of Skye – Glenbrittle
Isle of Skye – clockwise from top left: Blackhill Waterfall, River Snizort, looking towards Bracadale, Broadford
Inverness, regarded as the capital of the Highlands, marked the furthest point north on mainland UK that either of us had been before so far! The river Ness runs through the centre of the city on its way to the Moray Firth. We very much enjoyed our day in Inverness, which naturally included a trip to the Waterstones, which is located in a modern shopping centre.
We walked along the river which is overlooked by Inverness Castle – not the original 11th century one, but one rebuilt on the site in 1836, and up to an area called Ness Islands, which are public parks linked to both sides of the river by footbridges. On our way back we visited St Andrew’s Cathedral which stands on the west bank. It was built between 1866 and 1869.
We also visited Abertarff House which is now looked after by the National Trust for Scotland and is the oldest house in Inverness, having been built in 1593. There is only one room open to the public inside at the moment, but it has some interesting history about the building inside. I believe there are plans to open up more of the house in future.
We left Inverness the next day and decided to follow some of the famous North Cost 500 road, heading up to John O’Groats before cutting across country towards Ullapool on our way to our next destination of Kyle of Lochalsh. It’s such a beautiful part of Scotland. Here are just a selection of the many photos I took!
John O’Groats and the North Coast
Below – clockwise from top left: National Cycleway signpost at Lairg, Loch Naver, River Vagastie, Ullapool, Stromeferry
We stayed at Kintail Lodge overnight, and had a view of the beautiful Loch Duich. It is just stunning.
After leaving Aviemore we headed north through more stunning scenery to Elgin, a market town near the river Lossie. We didn’t arrive until late so didn’t have time to fully explore the town, but what we saw of it looked very nice. The Waterstones is in a modern shopping centre just off the High Street.
Below from left to right: Alan Herriot’s Drummer Boy – Part of Elgin’s “Castle, Cathedral, Cashmere” trail, The Muckle Cross, St Giles’ Church
After leaving Elgin we headed towards Inverness but pulled off the road at Ardersier to look over the Moray Firth where it is sometimes possible to see dolphin, but sadly we were out of luck on this occasion. Despite the dramatic looking sky it was actually quite a warm day!
After a great stay in Aberdeen we left for our next overnight destination of Inverness. Our first stop for the day was Aviemore, which meant we got to drive across the beautiful Cairngorms National Park. It really is a stunning part of Scotland and not only that but it was the first time we came across some of the beautiful Highland Cattle. They really are gorgeous and the ones we found were very obliging when it came to photographing them!
Aviemore is synonymous with skiing and winter sports, and was one of the first resorts of its kind to be opened in Scotland. It is obviously quite a touristy town and the main road through is full of gift shops and outdoor clothing shops. The Waterstones is situated there too in what must be one of the company’s smallest shops!
Cairngorms National Park