Over a week since I've done any writing in this blog journal as I have been just as gobsmacked as the rest of the world with the situation we are in. I've been caught up in the 24-7 news cycle, telling myself I should stay informed. Many years ago I turned my life from being negative to nearly always seeking, living and sharing happy. Earlier in the week as the reel of virus played on a loop in my brain keeping me from sleep it became a "staying awake call" to return to my positive choices. Here I am, back to focus and do research on one of the happiest times of my life to date!
The rainbows disappeared soon after we left the Commando Memorial continuing on A82 northwest for a short distance, then north then back northeast as we made our way to our next stop at Fort Augustus. Loch Lochy was off to the left but for the first few miles we only caught glimpses every so often through the thick hedge of trees on both sides of the road. I’m including a Google Earth link so you can see, from above the trees looked like dark green berber carpet. We were once again in a forest with mountains all around that we could not see and were not climbing. Loch Lochy was about 12 miles long and flowed into the small Ceann Loch which joined the Caledonian Canal, all on our left with fields between us. We crossed the Laggan Swing Bridge which put Loch Oich on our right but not for long as we soon zigged back over the River Oich. From there it was just under 5 miles to Fort Augustus where the Caledonian Canal contained a lock (highlands, lochs and locks) and fed into Loch Ness.
Until I started this research I had no idea we were in Fort Augustus. I somehow thought we were in a village called Loch Ness. Oh how I have learned! Anyway, when we arrived clouds had moved in and started to drop rain. The first stop everyone wanted was a toilet and so happened our first pay toilet experience. Most of us did not have the correct change! Several of the men in the group decided they thought once they dropped some coins and the gate released, they could hold it open. Amazingly they could, so quite a few of us thankful ladies scurried through. I didn’t object to paying but the exact change and not a standard fee made it tricky. And then when we got to Ireland, the money changed too.
We had tickets to be on a Loch Ness cruise in less than a half hour so everyone headed over to the boarding area. By that time it was a downpour. My rain hat and coat were terrific for dryness but after a bit it felt pretty chilly. Wendy had an umbrella but the rain was driving so even that was not a total barrier. All the spaces with some cover were full of folks huddled; so my sister and I decided to brave the rain as first in line! The waiting passed pretty quickly and we were committed to being seated inside which was easily accomplished with “first” status. Our cruise was aboard The Spirit of Loch Ness which I think is classified as a “barge” but I can’t find a definitive answer. True to Scotland weather the clouds moved out as we were heading down the canal onto Loch Ness, so for the majority of our time on the Loch, the sun was out with only a few scattered clouds. The cruise was smooth as glass and the day had turned to perfect. I even ventured out the back door and got some wonderful shots, to say nothing of enjoying the freshness and the beauty.
The presentation the crew gave was fascinating including a wall flat screen with sonar showing how deep it was beneath us. I don’t remember noticing the depth but parts of Loch Ness are 700 feet deep! The water reflects blue sky but where it roiled from the engines the brown from the peat made it look like strong tea. Of course Nessie was discussed and we were there not long after some new discoveries had been made. There is no doubt something quite large is in the Loch and given the first sightings date back 1500 years, more than one.
I remember my grade school days at La Grange country school and all us kids were excited hearing about the Loch Ness Monster and seeing the photograph. Honestly, I had not kept up with Nessie and didn’t know until our trip that the photo was determined a hoax back in ‘74. Anyway, I have lived most of my life believing the photo of Nessie and because every shot I had ever seen was black and white, also thinking of Loch Ness itself as a dreary, haunting body of water. Being raised in Kansas, I also had no point of reference for something the size of many of the Lochs there. Now I am even more haunted by its incredible beauty. I don’t think my brain still really grasps the childhood mental picture I carried was never “real” in any way. All too soon the cruise was over (about 50 minutes) and the clouds had thickened by the time we were back on the dock. Not long after, Pat headed our chariot back out on A82.
My senses were on overload earlier in the day in the Glen Coe Valley and Loch Ness again put me at a loss for words. I still am. We know the earth is old but somehow there in the Highlands and then out on Loch Ness you “feel” it and the shift is away from self to something unnameable that is so much bigger.
This was only our first full day in Scotland and there was still more to come before our heads hit the pillow.