Drove to Arbroath and stayed with cousins Ken, Majorie, Alistair and Rosalind. Got some horse riding in! Then went to Edinburgh looked round the nice city on a terrible day. The rain was soo relentless!!! Then visited our cousins in the evening for dinner. They are Ishbell, Cassian, James and Alex. Then drove to Greenloaning where Mum's relatives used to live then Stirling. Looked round William Wallace monument and Stirling castle. Then to Glasgow to see Ann and Dunc again. We had a lovely time in Glasgow, meeting all our cousins again, and having a great family lunch out at a country Pub near Glasgow.
From Glasgow, we wound our way north, past Loch Lomond, and on to our base for the next few days, Oban, the capital of the Western Isles.
On the way we stopped off at Inverary,(home of the Campbells), a lovely seaside town, and very impressive castle. Another stop on the way, was Kilmartin, where we saw ancient stone cairns dating back 2000 years, and carved stone slabs from the 1300,s.
We also visited Carnasserie castle, where we had great fun playing in the ruins, and unlike most Scots castles it was free entry.
The weather really packed up at this stage, and the next day we explored the 13th century castle (Dunstaffnage), near Oban, where Flora Macdonald was imprisoned before she was moved to the Tower of London.
Another feature on the hill above ,Oban, is McCaigs tower, a large stone replica of the Coliseum, built as a present for his wife.
The weather improved the next day, so we climbed Beinn Lora, and got marvellous views of the surrounding area., on the way home we explored Dunollie castle near Oban.
From Oban it was across Scotland , following the Great Glen, passing Loch Linnie, and Glencoe, where we explored the sight of the notorious massacre of the Macdonalds in 1692.
This treacherous act was government sanctioned by the English, to teach the Macdonalds a lesson for being late signing the letter of allegiance to the king.
We watched a boat passing through Neptune’s Steps, a series of nine locks at the south end of the Caledonian canal, which follows the Great glen all the way to Inverness.
We visited Urquart Castle on the shores of Loch Ness, but had no luck spotting the monster, although I'm is sure she got a photo of it !!
It was nice to be back in Inverness, and we were very warmly welcomed back by the Clan, and in fact my Aunt Helen very kindly let us use her house while she was away on holiday.
This was the time where we had to do some serious school work, and we spent the week exploring local sites of note , such as Fort George, Cawdor castle and Inverness itself.
We picked two fine days to do a trip to The Isle of Skye. This was a great trip, leaving Inverness we drove up the far side of Loch Ness, on a beautiful ,clear, calm morning. We travelled over the Five Sisters road to the Kyle of Lochalsh, stopping at Eilean Donan Castle at Dornie on the way.
We crossed to Skye via the New Bridge, and travelled north to the main town on the island, Portree.
We organised ourselves a room for the night before heading off to tour the north end of the island.
We climbed up to some amazing rock forms called the “The Old Man of Storr”, and then on to the Skye museum of Island Life at the northern tip of the island which gave us a very good idea of early life on this rugged, inhospitable island.
The next day we travelled south to Armadale, and spent a very informative half a day at the very impressive Clan Donald centre. We saw a MacDonald castle and learnt all about our ancestory which was interesting. We were descended from the Celts of Ireland and the Vikings. Learnt all our family history!!!
We drove back from Skye via Wester-Ross and Kinlochewe, with a short detour to Gairloch.
On our last weekend in Inverness, we attended the last highland games for the season, and had a great time watching the dancing and seeing “The Heavies” do their stuff, tossing Cabers, and throwing heavy weights about. The prize money is now so good for some Highland Games, that they have instigated random drug testing. We visited all the relatives Ian and Patricia, Maureen and Alister and we got to see Uncle Alistiar who has been sick but he was really nice and gave us beautiful gifts. It was great to see him.
Before we knew it our time in Inverness was over and we said our sad goodbyes, and headed south, stopping at Newtonmore (near where I was born), and visiting a wonderful outdoor museum depicting early life in the Highlands.
From there it was back to Glasgow, and our second home on this trip.
After 25000km driving around Europe, we expected to return to a fist full of speed camera fines and tolls, but surprisingly nothing had arrived, except just after we left, a fine did arrive for $60 for being caught by a camera in a “Bus Lane”!!
After saying our final goodbyes to Dunc and Ann the next morning we got on the motorway and travelled all the way down to Warwick, and explored the town and the castle.
The next morning we drove in to Stratford, and enjoyed the huge food market, that was on, and then Mum and I attended a production of Shakespeare’s “As You Like It”, which was incredible, while Liam and Dad took in the “Shakespeare Experience” and birthplace of this amazing man.
From Stratford we travelled to Offchurch to watch my cousin Katie play Polo, before continuing to another cousins place (Will and Lia’s) at Amersham just out of London .
It was great to see them again, and see there wonderful new house finished.
The following morning we were on the road again, travelling to Dover to catch our ferry to Calais, and leaving the UK behind.
It was nice to be back on the road again, and back camping again in some warmer weather, and we are all looking forward to our last month in Europe down in Southern France and Spain. I will miss the UK a lot!!