Got back to Edinburgh at around 7:00 p.m. last night after a jam-packed two days on a visit to Inverness. This was kind of a last-minute decision, but (as it usually happens) glad I did. Just wanted to get up to the highlands area and do a quick visit before I leave for Iceland next week.
The night before leaving, I attended a ceilidh in Edinburgh, an event arranged by InterNations. Did some Google and YouTube research to find out what goes on at a ceilidh. Took a video to show one of the group dances that were taught during the evening.
Here is another…
In the morning (20 November) I packed and left for the train station. Had time to grab another cup of coffee while waiting for the train. Below is Waverley Train Station.
The train takes about 3:15 hours to get to Inverness, with a number of stops in between.
Took a very nice picture through the train window of the Firth of Forth just before it meets the North Sea. Very surprised it turned out as it did. Was a point-and-take kind of picture – no planning at all.
Along the way, I took more pictures as we traveled through the highlands. We stopped at many small towns along the way, and I’m sure they appreciate having good train service to connect them with their neighbors and the cities. No labels on the following pictures (taken from Perth to Inverness). Took a picture of one of the train stations – also note the white, snow-covered mountains, in the background. I’d describe the view as serene and vast – so much open land.
Before checking into my lodgings, went from the train station directly to the nearby shopping mall to get some heavier shoes – my U.S.-purchased Merrell shoes were not standing up to the cold pavement. Just outside of the mall, saw my first reindeer – which, if I heard the gentleman in the red sweater below correctly, these are full-grown reindeer (7 – 8 years old). Maybe Santa’s reindeer are bigger?
Then went down to the River Ness, with my new shoes, that runs through Inverness. (Yes, River Ness is that ‘Ness’ as it relates to Loch Ness – about 13 miles away. No, didn’t visit Nessie this trip.)
Many fine looking churches in the area near the river. Several bridges span the river as it passes through Inverness. (A few of the bridges are fairly sturdy foot bridges though wobble a little as you walk over them.) Since sunset happens a little earlier up here, decided to find my lodgings before it got too much darker.
Was able to book a room at a local boutique hotel that had a 5 star rating for about £97 per night. It was a 10 minute walk from the center of town with a very fine restaurant on premises. (When I told the guy who sold me the warm shoes where I was staying, he said that he had an excellent dinner there the week before.)
Maybe I should have captured some pictures of my dinner. A set three courses for £35 – which I thought was a very good deal. Started off with a salmon appetizer, then a fish course, and dessert was a sticky toffee pudding. All were beautiful and creative presentations with excellent flavors. And filling too!
Next morning, I decided to visit Fort George, then return for more walking through Inverness, and then catch the 15:55 back to Edinburgh.
The hotel staff researched how to get to Fort George. It involved walking to the bus station and catching a bus. (Easy!) What I didn’t realize is that the bus didn’t quite go all the way to the fort, so had to walk the remaining 1.6 miles – which was great exercise and a way to break in the new boots.
Fort George was built after the last Jacobite rising (1746) and defense against the French, as well, in the 1800’s. A very large and strategically placed fort (now a garrison) with amazing views of the Moray Firth, which it guards. The picture below I downloaded to show the fort’s overall layout which was difficult to capture from the ground. Currently, a garrison for 1,600 personnel.
Pictures below show the view from inside the fort and out to the surrounding waters. It was a beautiful day to visit. The fort was very well maintained and worth the visit. Didn’t label the pictures below – just included them to show the views. The first picture shows an empty moat.
The picture below shows the three-decker pulpit in the chapel. With the minister (top), reader (center), and the precentor (bottom) who leads the singing.
Throughout the fort were these signs (Warning! Sudden Drop) since there were a number of places, if not watching, someone could easily take a tumble over the edge. The fort isn’t a good place for those who (at whatever age) are not good about looking where they’re going.
About this time, my feet were aching so I loosened up the boots to better accommodate the insole inserts that I bought with the boots. That seemed to help for a little bit. Then time to board the bus which (thankfully) met us visitors up at the fort.
Once back in Inverness, walked down the River Ness along the east-side of the river, then back up the west-side. I finally had to remove my boot inserts since they were actually causing more ache than comfort. Once removed, I was pain free.
Map above shows the downtown area of Inverness and at the bottom center in the picture, my lodging, Rocpool Reserve Hotel. A very walkable city with many parks. Took a couple of pictures during my brief city walk. Included one of some homes I saw along the river.
I could have walked longer but needed to get to the train. Got the 15:55 and headed back towards Edinburgh. Since it was right at dusk, got a nice picture of the sunset over the highlands from my seat inside the train, about 10 minutes out from the station.
Was very tired from my travels today. (Walked 22,000 steps.) After arriving back in Edinburgh, stopped by the local Pizza Hut. Got a medium pizza for £5.99. Nice!