Why not take a full-day trip to Loch Ness and the Scottish Highlands?
It is cool and foggy as we arrive at 60 High Street, on Edinburgh’s Royal mile. Exhausted and excited in equal measure we prepare for a 12-hour return excursion to Fort Augustus, nestled on the banks of infamous Loch Ness.
Andy, our guide is very friendly. Funny and knowledgeable he describes the trip ahead.
Heading north from Edinburgh, we wind through the cobbled streets of the Old Town and out of the busy capital. As the scenery changes from cityscape to countryside we travel along the fortified walls of Stirling Castle.
Our first stop arrives around 10:30am. We pull in to The Trossachs Weaving Mill Shed, where we meet Hamish the hairy ‘coo’ (Andy informs us that Scottish cows are called coo’s). This is the first of many stops, with enough time to explore the gift shop and take in the Callendar scenery.
As we venture on, Andy plays us local traditional music as well as more recognisable Scottish tunes from bands such as The Proclaimers, setting a relaxing tone as we cross Rannoch Moor.
We stop and absorb the dramatic Glen Coe, the site of the infamous massacre in 1692. A lone bagpipe player fills the fresh air with eerie song from the site’s car park.
Passing through Fort William, we stop off for a cheeky tipple of scotch and observe one of the largest settlements in the Scottish Highlands. It is from here that we are able to see Ben Nevis, the tallest mountain in the British Isles. Its peak breaks through the fine cloud.
As we drive through the Great Glen, Andy talks us through interesting sights and important local facts about the area.
Driving through Highland Perthshire, we dip through native forests and flowing rivers before arriving at our destination.
Fort Augustus is a quaint village settled on the shore of Loch Ness with a peaceful vibe, despite the tourists. There is plenty to enjoy about Fort Augustus. The loch is calm and eerie, it is easy to see why so many legends are attached to this place.
While on the loch, there is an option for us to take a ‘Nessie’ hunting boat cruise. It is hard to resist, having traveled all this way. We climb on board and head our across the dark, murky water. Even in summer the wind is biting cold. With a complementary Taste of Scotland lunch provided by the company, many people choose instead to nestle on the grass in the sunshine and enjoy a picnic overlooking the Caledonian Canal.
The tour ends with a relaxing drive home on much the same course as we arrived by. Andy puts on relaxing local music and most of us fall asleep, while other ponder what they have seen. What sounds like an incredibly long day, slips by in a blink.
The full-day Scottish Highlands and Loch Ness tour is a truly worthwhile experience.