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
After leaving Dundee we headed up the coast, stopping in the pretty town of Stonehaven to take some photographs before ending up in Aberdeen, our destination for two nights. Aberdeen is sometimes referred to as the Granite City and it’s easy to see why when you first arrive in the city. The grey buildings, which initially can seem rather stark, actually glitter in the sunlight and are an impressive sight. The Waterstones here is in a modern shopping centre set over two floors.
My friend Tracy lives in Aberdeen, so she picked me up in the evening and we went for dinner at a lovely hotel at Cove Bay and then she took me on a tour of Aberdeen, taking me to the Torry Battery which overlooks the harbour. We then went to the University of Aberdeen which was founded in 1495 – it’s a stunning campus, and finally we drove up to Balmedie to the north of the city. Thanks, Tracy.
The University of Aberdeen
Aberdeen – the Granite City
Aberdeen Old Town
Our next destination for two nights was to be Aberdeen. We stopped in Dundee on the way. Dundee is the home to the RRS (Royal Research Ship) Discovery and the area where she is moored is known as Discovery Point. The ship was built for Scott and Shackleton’s arctic exploration. The area has had a lot of money spent on regeneration, including the building of a V&A museum, which was designed by Japanese architect Kengo Kuma. It’s a very modern design which cost £80.1 million to build! I wish we’d had more time as we’d have liked to have visited but we had other things to do on the way so reluctantly decided not to go in. The Waterstones in Dundee is located in an attractive 19th century tenement building designed by architect John Bruce and is located on a side street near the town centre that leads down to the river.
Dundee is home to The Beano, which is published by D C Thompson – we spotted these statues in the town centre – Desperate Dan with his ‘dawg’, and Minnie the Minx!
After leaving Dundee we headed to Kirriemuir. J M Barrie, the author of Peter Pan was born in the small town and his birthplace museum is located here (sadly closed on the day we were there) together with a fountain dedicated to him and a statue of Peter Pan in the town centre. Ronald ‘Bon’ Scott, former lead singer of AC/DC who was born in Forfar but spent his early years here before his family emigrated to Australia. There is a statue to him at the bottom of the town.
J M Barrie
Our final stop on our way back to Perth was Dunfermline – another former capital of Scotland. The body of Robert the Bruce is interred in Dunfermline Abbey (his heart is buried at Montrose Abbey and his internal organs at Dumbarton!), and the Abbey bears the words ‘King Robert the Bruce’ around the top of the tower. The Waterstones here is in a modern shopping centre called Kingsgate. Above the shopping centre door is a tablet that commemorates the Great Fire of Dunfermline in 1624 which destroyed 66% of the town.
Dunfermline Palace (in the Abbey grounds)