Sunday, June 3, 2012

Loch Ness and Urquhart Castle...A Boy's Dream Come True

While the folks in London vied for a view of Queen Elizabeth II as the Diamond Jubilee Flotilla of a thousand boats made its way down the River Thames, we searched for Nessie in Northern Scotland.  

Aboard the Nessie Hunter, owned by renowned Loch Ness expert George Edwards, we scanned sonar images of the loch's bottom for any sign of the unusual.  If Greg's parents were here, they would have recognized their little boy in the thrilled expression on his face as he fulfilled his childhood dream of hunting the Loch Ness Monster.

Yesterday, we left Helensburgh and traveled to the northern Scottish city of Inverness via Scotrail (Our Britrail pass covers England, Scotland and Wales.)  After lunching in Inverness's Victorian Market, we boarded a bus and held on tight as Bob Geldof's doppelganger drove like a madman (on the wrong side of the road, no less) to the tiny village of Drumnadrochit on Loch Ness.  Charmed immediately by the hamlet and happy to be alive, we checked into the Loch Ness Lodge Hotel for a two night stay.  Covered in dark paneling, tartans and the smell of smokey peat, the lodge felt warm and welcoming after our six hour journey.  We had a simple supper and went to bed early to prepare for our Great Nessie Hunt.

Our rooms included full Scottish breakfast that continued the theme of offering food based on a dare.  Black (Blood) pudding?  Beans with eggs?  Greg, of course, enjoyed them all.  (He and Andrew Zimmern were separated at birth.)

Surviving breakfast, we headed on a two mile hike to Urquhart Castle.   We enjoyed breathtaking views of Loch Ness and the countryside as we walked over hill and dale up to the castle ruins.  The green fields dotted with yellow brume bushes and white sheep seemed to go on for miles on the sides of the loch.

Urquhart Castle has a long and bloody history surviving wars of clan vs. clan and Scots vs. English only to be blown up in 1692 by its own inhabitants to prevent the Jacobites from using it.  I won't go into detail of the Jacobite uprising (Thank me later), but basically, it was another complicated fight over the heir to the British throne.  It was interesting to be there on the day the United Kingdom celebrated its current monarch's 60th anniversary.

We roamed the ruins, climbed the tower and Wyatt even captured a soldier.  It was a beautiful day to pretend we were back in time.   

Back in the 21st century, we were ready for high technology equipment to officially put an end to the speculation... the kids knew we'd find her!  We spent the afternoon on a cruise around the castle skimming the black water and scanning the screens for any signs of a creature.  We shared an experience like thousands of others: we saw nothing.  But I must admit, with water that black and immense, it could be possible...

Darn it!

As we were leaving, Greg thought he saw something and quickly grabbed the camera to snap a shot.  We could have been famous, but here's what he got:

Still, it was a perfect family day.  We were so blessed to be there to see Greg check one off his bucket list.


  1. I didn't go into Urqhart, but we drove by it and heard lots and lots of stuff about the Jacobites and Bonny Prince Charlie. I tried luring Nessie to the surface by climbing out onto the rocks and dangling my toes in the luck. When one of our tour guides decided to strip to his skivvies and dive in, I thought for sure we'd have her. I guess pudgy British men weren't what she craved, though, because she never did come up.

  2. Hoping to go there one day... I was obsessed like your husband in the 1970s. Definitely on my bucket list!


Thanks for reading and commenting! Heaven knows, I need some interaction...