Saturday, June 2, 2012
Scotland: Glasgow to Inverness
A B&B owner gave us the best advice many years ago for driving in the UK. anything to your right has the right of way. Remember that. It works! But still, there is a bit of a learning curve. It didn't help that the rental car agency gave us a map of the entire country with nothing specific for Glasgow. Oh well. We made it eventually to our hotel.
We just had some time to kill and went over to Kelvingrove Park and Museum. We mostly wanted to see the Charles Rene McIntosh room and did enjoy that. Chatting with the falconer outside the museum was just as interesting. That's a golden eagle and weighs about 14 pounds. For reference, I asked if he knew how large a bald eagle would be in comparison and they'd be half again. Yikes!
We didn't have a lot of time in Glasgow but I still got a run in (of course) and we did do a bit of walking along the river and through Kelvingrove Park. It's a very different focus than Edinburgh but still has a pleasant feel. All B&B owners said shopping is much better in Glasgow too.
We just spent the one night at a small hotel close to Kelvingrove and then went driving off to see the Glasgow Cathedral and the Necropolis with our friends in tow.
What a treat! Glasgow Cathedral is an intact Gothic cathedral which survived the Reformation. It was beautiful with intact stained glass windows and a wooden roof (many stories up!). We kept seeing this Fish Tree thing on many places on windows and coats of arms. Ah. Turns out that is related to St. Mungo (patron saint and founder of Glasgow) and the 4 miracles he performed.
Just behind the cathedral, are paths leading up a hill to a lovely Victorian Necropolis established when parish churches stopped being responsible for burying the dead. It's a peaceful place with lovely views of the cathedral and the surrounding city. And you might just see a Scotty Dog!
After the quick tour of Glasgow, we were off in the car to Oban (pronounced oh-bin). It's a teeny little touristy town on the west coast with a perfect bay and protected by some larger island. We came to see the famous distillery but were charmed by the pretty little village. On a perfect day, we sat on some outside tables by the ferry dock and had some fresh smoked salmon sandwiches with other assorted picnic items from the local grocery store. Unfortunately, the distillery tours were full for the day. Not to worry though. The selection of scotch in the local grocery store was much better than anything we've seen before. We stocked up and prepared for our own private tasting at the B&B later.
We took a small road up along the coast. Ben Nevis was visible and pretty stunning. It's the highest mountain in the UK. There are popular hiking trails to the top as it's only 4500 feet. Weather can be changeable though so it's pretty dangerous. I dreamed of a nice trail run of course. There is a race to the top and back down (8.7 miles with a cut off time to the top of 2 hours!).
It was a beautiful day to be driving the countryside. We stopped at one more stop before making it to Inverness. Fort Augustus at teh southern end of Loch Ness has a series of locks which are fun to look at. Built in the early 1800s as a way to employ all the Highlanders who were being evicted from their land, the Caledonian Canal is a series of locks (29!) and lakes (Loch Ness is one) and a canal. It makes for some great viewing.