Inverness

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.

11.Inverness

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

winter wonderland

Cradle Mountain is stunning any time of year but winter brings an enchanting wonderland. A couple of years ago, we treated ourselves to a three day spa package at Cradle Mountain Lodge. It didn’t snow for us but there had been heavy falls the week before. On the way, we stopped at Cradle View Lookout to take in the expansive vista across the valley to snow covered mountains.

1.cradle view lookout2

Our cabin at The Lodge was welcoming

2.lodge13.lodge2and we watched the changing colours on the mountain as the sun settled for the night.

4.mountain from lodge15.mountain from lodge26.mountain from lodge37.mountain from lodge4

The frozen lake formed abstract mosaic patterns.

Icy Dove Lake is shadowed by the mystical mountain, enshrouded in cloud.

18.Dove Lake219.Dove Lake520.Dove Lake1

Lake Lilla is serene,

21.Lake Lilla

the walking path too perilous to navigate.

22.Lake Lilla path

King Billy Walk winds its way through ancient forest

23.King Billy Walk

and joins the Speeler Track, opening up to scenic button grass plains

and spectacular mountain views.

30.Speeler Track7

Cradle Valley Walk goes all the way to Dove Lake.

We stopped for lunch at Snake Hill and caught the shuttle bus back to The Lodge where we had a date for a massage.

36.valley walk9

The Waldheim Spa has an enticing menu of treatments or you can opt to enjoy The Sanctuary. The hot tub is suspended above nature and the cool plunge pool is invigorating.

Waldheim Walk passes through diverse landscapes

41.Waldheims146.Waldheims7

and the historic Waldheim Chalet offers insight into the founding father of Cradle Mountain-Lake St. Clair National Park. Built in 1912, it remains a memorial to Gustav Weindorfer and his wife, Kate.

The Waterfalls Walk is an easy track to Knyvet Falls

47.waterfalls (Knyvet)

and Pencil Pine Falls.

48.waterfalls (Pencil Pine)

I talked Michael into a body scrub and Vichy Shower for our final treatment at the spa. I found it very relaxing but he had some concerns about the durability of the paper G-strings we had been given to wear!

52.spa5

I think another winter weekend at The Lodge is looming…..

53.final pic