Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Wednesday, June 6, 2012 – Invergordon, Scotland – Drizzly – low 50s

Kirkwall, Scotland to Invergordon, Scotland: 109 Nautical Miles

Kind of a crummy day in Scotland – cool and rainy.  Outside of the big cities on this cruise (Dublin and Edinburgh), this stop is probably the most anticipated.  That is because there is a tour to Loch Ness and Urquhart Castle (not escorting today).  I guess everyone is hoping that Nessie, the Loch Ness Plesiosaur, will make an appearance for those who purchased this tour.

The tour is also early because we have an early departure from Invergordon.  So a wake up call (ouch) was necessary to get us up and out on time.

We departed at 8:30 AM to the tunes of a lonely bagpipe player standing in the rain.  The pier at Invergordon is located at the end of a very long one-way road (not walkable). 

 Long pier bridge to Invergordon (Small)

The bridge connecting pier to shore

The road to Loch Ness was scenic in spite of the gloominess of the day.  We saw the first flowers of our cruise along the roadside.

Finally some flowers Invergordon (Small)

First Flowers of our “Flowers in Bloom Cruise”

We also drove past a golf course on the way.  Typical Scottish course with no trees and lumpy fairways and greens.

Golf Course on way to Loch Ness (Small)

We passed a number of towns and villages along the way (their names are no longer in memory).  The river below was one of the interesting features of the drive.

River near Loch Ness (Small)

We finally arrived at the Loch.  The site consists of the world famous Loch Ness (and its bashful monster, Nessie) and the Urquhart Castle (now in ruins).  Urquhart Castle dates back to the 16th Century.

The Loch lies in the Great Glen (or Valley) that was carved out of the mountains by Glaciers.

Urquhart castle and Loch Ness (Small)

Urquhart Castle and Loch Ness

E at Urquhart Castle (Small)

Ellen and the bridge to the Castle

Urquhart Trebuchet (Small)

Trebuchet (Catapult) near the Castle

Much of the ruins associate with the castle were left on the ground (below).

 Pieces of Castle Wall (Small)

 Castle and Loch Ness (Small)

To get the best views of the Loch and surrounding areas, you need to climb to the top of Grant Tower.  This tower was given to John Grant by King James IV around 1509 as a reward for loyalty. 

We at Urquhart (Small)

At the entrance to Grant Tower

We climbed the 100 odd steps to the tower – it is a one way street and once a group of people are done taking pictures, another group is sent up. 

View from Turret and E (Small)

Ellen in Grant Tower

You can get great views of Loch Ness from the top of the Tower as indicated by the pictures below.

Loch Ness 1 (Small) Loch Ness 4 (Small) E and Loch Ness (Small)

It’s a tight squeeze down the tiny stairs of Grant Tower (check out the picture below).  Not much clearance.

Climbing down Grant Tower (Small)

As we headed back to the Visitor’s Center, I got some nice parting shots of the castle and lake.

By the way, Nessie did not make an appearance during our stay.  That would have been cool.  For the disappointed – and there are many – the town has provided a “Baby Nessie” (statue) that can be seen frolicking in her own little pond in the park.

Leaving the castle (Small) Castle and Lake 1 (Small)

After a short shopping stay at the Visitor’s Center (no WiFi), the bus departed for the pier at Invergordon.  On the way we passed the River Ness.

River Ness (Small) 

There are a number of Oil Rigs in Cromartie Firth (below).

 Oil Rig in the Cromartie Furth (Small)

Prior to arriving at the pier, the bus took us through central Invergordon.  The guide pointed out the murals painted on the sides of buildings – these depict historical events of the area.

Invergordon Mural (Small)

Finally, we are back at the pier.  The Journey and an oil ring make for an interesting juxtaposition.

Journey and Oil Rig (Small)

The HAL Eurodam (below) was the only other cruise ship we saw on our entire trip.

HAL Eurodam (Small)

My next talk- “Forensic Detectives: Life and Death of Pharaohs” – is scheduled for 6:30 PM in the Cabaret Lounge.  The attendance was about 40 passengers.  The colors on the slides were very difficult to see which made the transmission of information a bit difficult.  The attendees had to trust me on the data.

After dinner in the Windows Cafe, we took in the next Production Show - “Stage Door to Dreams”.  This was a song and dance tribute to Broadway.  We sat close and got some nice shots of the performers including Eric, who had gotten his voice back.

Stage Door to Dreams (Small) Eric JC Superstar (Small)

Eric - “Jesus Christ Superstar”

Stage Door to Dreams 1 (Small) You can't stop the beat (Small)

“You Can’t Stop the Beat”

Stage Door to Dreams Eric 1 (Small)

Mrs. Turnblad struts her stuff

It was a great show.

Pedometer: 2739 steps; 1.3 miles; 134 calories

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