Scottish Highlands and Loch Ness

The primary goal during my stay in Scotland was to view Loch Ness with my own eyes. I made that promise to myself in elementary school, when I went through a phase of reading books about Bigfoot, UFOs, and — of course — the Loch Ness Monster. Visiting Loch Ness had been on my “must experience” list for three decades.

I strolled into the Edinburgh Information Centre on my first morning in the city and received a warm welcome and excellent service. After perusing numerous brochures, I chose Heart of Scotland Tours, the folks with “The Wee Red Bus.” Specifically, I scheduled Tour 1 — Loch Ness and the Highlands for my final day in Scotland. If you like traveling in smaller groups and learning from excellent guides, I suggest you consider this tour company.

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Our first stop was Deanston Distillery, where we briefly explored their operations and enjoyed a little coffee in their dining room. Alas, they weren’t serving whisky.

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As we drove north through the Scottish Highlands, our guide made quick stops at various points of interest so we could stretch our legs, take photos, and enjoy the scenery. One of our early stops was at Loch Lubnaig.

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The Scottish Highlands are exceedingly gorgeous. I admit that I had trouble keeping up with which mountains we were passing or the name of this or that. But I do recall two majestic sights: Ben Nevis, the U.K.’s highest mountain, and Glen Coe, a beautiful area carved by ancient glaciers. Here are some photos of those mixed in with some other wonderful scenes.

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I was already quite satisfied with the day’s experiences by the time we arrived at Loch Ness. I paid extra for a boat tour with Cruise Loch Ness so I could float atop one of the world’s most famous bodies of water. It was gorgeous. It was really chilly. It was fantastic.

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On our way back to Edinburgh, we made a brief stop at a lovely walking trail in the Strathmashie Forest.

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Bonus Photo!

It’s a terrible photo because we were driving by so quickly, but this is Doune Castle, historic in its own right, but perhaps better known for being featured in Monty Python and the Holy Grail.

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