There is no rush this morning as we only have about 125 miles to go down to Fort William and saw the one main sight that is on the way, Eilean Donan Castle, the other day and can’t check into our hotel until after 2PM. We will be in Fort William for two nights.
A leisurely breakfast and a picnic lunch are made with the last of our supplies, we load the car and we are gone about 10:30AM. It is partly cloudy with the sun breaking out some places. Heading to Portree, we pass the car park for Lealt Falls for one last time...they are supposed to be beautiful, but it is a little walk out onto the cliff face and it is blowing a gale with the sun hiding behind clouds now. So far, every time we have been by, it was either raining and/or blowing a gale. Guess we will just have to come again!
As we head toward the bridge, The weather improves and it is bright sun by the time we cross to the mainland on A87. We pass the castle and head into the beautiful mountains through Glen Shiel. This is absolutely a stunning drive! We leave Loch Duich and drive along Loch Cluanie, where we stop for a picnic looking down at the Loch...in the car...as Dick can't get his door open the wind is blowing so hard! And it is cold!
We pick up A83 at Invergary, cross over the Caledonian Canal and drive along Loch Lochy again. It is just as pretty as it was a week ago. At some point the GPS has us turn onto a one track road and cross the canal again. This is a very pretty drive of about 8 miles to our hotel. It is sunny, but we can see a storm is building on the mountains and spilling down their sides,
We get to our hotel, The Moorings, about 2:45PM. The hotel backs up to the Caledonian Canal and Neptune’s Staircase, a set of locks and in the canal that connect Loch Linhe to Lock Lochy. The canal and other locks along the way connect Loch Lochy to Loch Ness and onward to the sea at Inverness. Our room looks out on the locks and Ben Nevis Mountain. The room is OK, but it is up a flight of steps and then down a half flight. Dick is having problems with his knees the last day or so and hauling the luggage really brothers him this time and I am no help!
It looks like it is snowing like crazy in the mountains and it is getting colder where we are. Not wanting to sit in the room, we head into Fort William to see what there is to see.....not too much. We do finally find Inverlochy Castle. Since it is still sunny, we stop and explore. There are no steps and we can park right in front. There has been a fortification on this site since the 600's when the Picts built a fortress. This is a very strategic location on the banks of the River Lochy at the south of the Great Glen. Inverlochy Castle was one of the first stone castles built in Scotland. It is a square inclosure with towers at each corner, built about 1280 by John III Comyn and would have had a wide moat on three sides fed by the River Lochy for protection.
We then drive through town looking for eating choices but we don’t find anything better than the pub at the hotel. We do find a car park and check out St. Andrews Church, built in the late 1870's, a pretty, smallish, simple looking church in the town center made from redish stone. It is built on the grounds of an earlier church and is open, so we visit. The inside has some beautiful detail. It is a Scottish Episcopal Church as apposed to the Church of Scotland which is Presbyterian.
Now it is time to head to the barn. It is beginning to rain and getting colder. We are tired and hungry. Back at the hotel we have a cocktail in the room and go to the pub for dinner. Another night of fish and chips and a slice of wonderful homemade carrot cake with lots of gooey icing. We are seated next to an Australia couple doing a tour through Scotland before spending time with family in England and have a pleasant conversation with them while we all eat.
It is still light out, but we are tired. Hot baths around to thaw out and warm our achy bones, we pull the black out curtains and hit the hay!