We asked for breakfast at 9AM and are almost packed by the time we go to the dining room. There are three couples there already and only one has their breakfast. Slowly the rest of us get ours with ours being last to arrive at 9:30...scrambled eggs with a slice of smoked salmon for Dick and poached eggs on toast for Carolyn. The couple that run this place are trying hard but there is something off about the whole operation but for £90 a night one can’t be too critical. We load up and head for Inveraray Castle, seat of the Dukes of Argyle and one of the locations used in the TV series Downton Abbey.
£18 buys us a ticket to the public rooms and the gardens and, they will allow cameras and photos! It is an impressive "piss-ant country place" with hundreds of years of family memorabilia and artifacts on display. In the entry yard is a French cannon that was salvaged from the wreck of one of the ships from the Spanish Armada. It was cast in 1545. The gun room has a fabulous display of weapons from the early 19th century back to a sword from the 15th century. The current Duke of Argyle and head of Clan Campbell is a 30 something who married in 2002 and has three children. He and his family live in the castle, at least part of the time, and it actually has a somewhat, homey feel with family pictures and such on display through out the rooms. Of course there are also the family portraits by Gainsborough and the portraits of King George III and his wife, Queen Charlotte, presented to a former Duke of Argyle in appreciation of some service. Royalty is really different than you and me!
It is now after 11AM and we have 350 miles to drive so we hit the road. We spend the afternoon running in and out of light rain. Along Loch Lomond and across the Glasgow bridge the going is fairly slow until we finally get to the M8/74 near Glasgow and head south at 70MPH plus. We stop at Greta Green, on the Scottish/English border, for a Subway sandwich and eat it in the car. We travel along the edge of the Lake District. Our route takes us right between Manchester and Liverpool at rush hour but the traffic only slows a little and it is no problem.
We soon turn onto A55 which is still four lane divided as we head into the green, green valleys of Wales. Finally we turn south into the mountains for the last 20 miles or so and make good time. We try to find a grocery store before we turn off into the back country of Wales but fail and finally stop at a gas station/convenience store for some basics for tonight and tomorrow morning.
Dick has GPS coordinates for our new lodgings and it takes us up a steep, one lane road with NO "Passing Places" to a gate and drive with no sign that this is where we want to be. We cautiously turn in and down the lane to a parking area. Oh, well, they may know where we should be if we knock. Our hostess greets us warmly and we are in the right place. Our host greets us from the roof where he is doing some sort of work.
Our new place is an apartment off the main house, but attached, and consists of a kitchen with breakfast area, two baths, bed room and living room with a TV and a view out onto the patio and Snowdonia in the distance. Beautiful gardens in full bloom with early spring flowers set among amazing rock work are visible from every window. We can be comfortable here for a few nights.
We unload and get comfortable, have a dinner of breakfast ham, microwave potatoes and a can of green beans...the best of the few choices at the filling station!... and are ready for bed by 10PM.