After leaving Inverness, we drove over the Grampian Mountains, with the intention of visiting Balmoral Castle. The snow became heavier

and as the temperature plummeted to -5ºC, we decided to head straight for Edinburgh instead. We arrived as the sun was setting


and found a hotel we liked the look of. Unfortunately, they only had a room for one night but recommended another place for us. We were told it was opposite a big building, we couldn’t miss it. After driving past three times, we finally found Ashgrove House, but couldn’t see anything across the road in the dark. After a marvelous curry and a good night’s sleep, I opened the curtains and, sure enough, the Donaldson’s School, a residential and day school for the deaf, was certainly a big building across the road.


Our accommodation was lovely, in the attic room of this beautiful Victorian villa built in 1868.

6.Ashgrove House

A short walk away, Edinburgh Castle loomed magnificently over the town.

7.Edinburgh Castle

Built on volcanic rock, there has been a royal castle on this site since the 12th century,

8.Edinburgh Castle9.Edinburgh Castle

with royals in residence up until 1633.

10.Edinburgh Castle,Half Moon Battery and Palace Block

The view from the castle over Edinburgh and beyond was stunning.


As we left the castle, we caught a glimpse of the Firth of Forth between the buildings,

13.Firth of Forth

before setting off down the Royal Mile.

14.Royal Mile

The Scotch Whisky Experience was tempting but, as Michael isn’t keen on whisky, we opted for the 3D Loch Ness Experience instead.

15.Royal Mile16.Royal Mile

After treating ourselves to a pair of gold celtic rings, our keepsake from Scotland, we celebrated with a pint and bacon sandwich at the Royal Mile Tavern. I have seen condom machines in women’s toilets before, but never scotch whisky flavoured, nor with the advice to refrain from driving while using the product!

The old tenements and alleyways were fascinating


as we made our way to the far end of the mile and the Palace of Holyroodhouse. The Queen’s Gallery is an art gallery that forms part of the palace and exhibits works from the Royal Collection.


The palace as it stands today was built between 1671-1678 and is the official residence of the Queen when she is in Scotland.

21.Palace of Holyroodhouse

The fountain is a 19th century replica of the 16th century fountain at Linlithgow Palace, just 15 miles away.

22.Palace of Holyroodhouse fountain

We wandered back to the new town, absorbing the spectacular architecture of the Edinburgh skyline


and the undying traditions of Scotland.


The next morning, we detoured to Dalmeny to see the Forth Bridges before leaving Edinburgh. The magnificent railway bridge was opened in 1890 and is the second-longest single cantilever bridge span in the world.

30.Forth Railway Bridge31.Forth Railway Bridge

The 2.5km suspension road bridge was opened in 1964, six years after work began.

32.Forth Road Bridge33.Forth Road Bridge

We didn’t drive across it, instead heading in the opposite direction.


We were hoping to find accommodation on the banks of Loch Ness but it seemed there was none to be had. We were very happy with the compromise of a lovely hotel overlooking the River Ness, only a short walk into town.

1.River Ness2.River Ness

A succession of castles has stood guard over the river since 1057. Built in 1836, the magnificent red sandstone of Inverness Castle shone in the afternoon sunshine. It is now the Court house and not open to the public.

3.Inverness Castle

We had planned on a Loch Ness cruise for the next day but the weather was threatening inclemency so we decided to explore the Black Isle instead. Not far from Inverness, it is not actually an island, but a peninsula, surrounded on three sides by water. As well as gorgeous villages and towns, the highland scenery was spectacular.

4.Black Isle

We had many issues with our satnav throughout our trip, we named her Holly (if you have ever seen Red Dwarf, you will understand why). She was adamant that this was a major road!

5.Black Isle

We had our sights set on snow-capped Ben Wyvis.

6.Black Isle7.Ben Wyvis

Unfortunately, Holly was not in the mood to co-operate and after negotiating a multitude of narrow mountain roads, we returned to Inverness.

We awoke the following morning to a beautiful winter wonderland, an early snowfall.


After breakfast, we wandered through the Ness Islands.

12.Ness Islands

The two wooded islands are connected by footbridges

13.Ness Islands

and have been used as a public park since the 1840s.

14.Ness Islands

The walk in the crisp, fresh air amidst the stunning autumn foliage was a perfect start to the day.

15.Ness Islands16.Ness Islands17.Ness Islands18.Ness Islands

Reluctantly leaving Inverness, we continued our southward journey.

19.River Ness

Loch Ness

The drive to Inverness took us along the shores of magnificent Loch Ness.

1.Loch Ness

The ruins of Urquhart Castle have prime position on a rocky promontory overlooking the lake. Founded in the 13th century, the castle withstood much conflict during its 500 years as a fortress, eventually blown up in the Jacobite rebellion in 1692.

2.Urquhart Castle3.The Saltire

The scenery was spectacular as we followed the banks of the Loch,

4.Loch Ness

the autumn sunlight creating a diverse palette of hues.

5.Loch Ness6.Loch Ness

The landscape on the opposite side of the road was no less impressive.

7.Loch Ness8.Loch Ness

The largest body of fresh water in Britain, Loch Ness is 39km long and over 200 metres deep.

9.Loch Ness10.Loch Ness

We didn’t see the Loch Ness monster but it isn’t hard to imagine something lurking beneath the surface.

11.Loch Ness


Isle of Skye

We hadn’t planned ahead for our trip through Scotland, preferring to see where each day ended. Late October is not the height of the tourist season, however, arriving on the Isle of Skye we found accommodation scarce. We were very fortunate to find a room at Uig Hotel, a beautiful old coaching inn dating back to 1831.

1.Uig Hotel

We settled in at the bar to enjoy some local beverages. A Red Cuillin ale for Michael, brewed locally since 1995 and a Talisker single malt for me from the only distillery on the Isle of Skye. We absorbed the stunning view of Uig Bay and Loch Snizort.

2.Uig Bay3.Loch Snizort

The tower in our sights was a 19th century folly, known as Fraser’s Folly. The tenants of Kilmuir Estate, owned by Major William Fraser in 1855, would go to the folly to pay their rents. The tower was later turned into a family home and eventually abandoned in the 1950s.

4.Fraser's Folly

We enjoyed a superb meal in The Folly restaurant at the hotel, Michael honouring his Scottish roots with a main course of venison haggis. The next morning, we awoke to severe stormy weather. We had decided to explore the island in an anticlockwise direction and see where the road led, we weren’t going to let the elements stop us. The camera stayed safely tucked away until we came across Sligachan Bridge.

5.Sligachan Bridge

Built in the 1820s, it was taking quite a beating from the waters whipped up by the gale force winds.


Apparently, the views of the Black Cuillin mountains are spectacular on a clear day. Legend has it that if you dip your face in the river water by the bridge for seven seconds, you will stay young and beautiful forever. I certainly wasn’t going to try on this day.


Eilean Donan castle

Leaving Ben Nevis behind, we drove north through the Highlands, our destination the Isle of Skye. On the way, we stopped to explore Eilean Donan castle.

1.Eilean Donan Castle

The island of Donan, at the meeting point of Loch Duich, Loch Alsh and Loch Long was settled by Irish Saint, Bishop Donan in 634AD. The first fortified castle was built in the mid 13th century to protect the area from Viking invasion.

2.Eilean Donan Castle

It was partially destroyed in the Jacobite uprising in 1719 and then lay in ruins for nearly 200 years. Lieutenant Colonel John MacRae-Gilstrap bought the island in 1911, restored the castle over the next twenty years and added the bridge.

3.Eilean Donan Castle

The scenery was breathtaking, even on an overcast day.

4.Loch Long

Entering through the majestic doorway,


we spent some time wandering through the restored interior, I photographed these Viking sculptures before realizing photography wasn’t permitted.

6.Viking sculptures

The exterior has been lovingly resurrected, I can see why it took twenty years.

7.Eilean Donan Castle8.Eilean Donan Castle

The castle is still owned by the MacRae family. The Clan MacRae War Memorial commemorates the 423 members of the Clan MacRae who died in World War l, including Lieutenant Colonel John McRae who wrote the poem ‘In Flanders Fields’.

9.Clan MacRae War Memorial & Field Guns

In stark contrast to the castle’s history, there was a sense of serenity about the misty waters.

10.Eilean Donan Castle11.Eilean Donan Castle12.Eilean Donan Castle

The bridge across Loch Long, built in 1990, connects the nearby villages of Dornie and Ardelve.

13.Dornie bridge

Scotland’s national flag, The Saltire, stands proudly at the perimeter of the castle. The patron saint of Scotland, St. Andrew, was apparently crucified on an X shaped cross, hence, the white saltire on a background of azure blue sky.

14.Eilean Donan Castle