Rural Scotland - Part 3 - Orlando / Florida Guide
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A day at the Lochs and the mountains
Scotland is famous as the land of the lochs and unquestionably the most famous of these is Loch Ness, home to a legendary monster. When you arrive, amid the tour buses, it may not seem like a wild place, but there’s a way to make it so.
Start at the Loch Ness Centre & Exhibition inside the Drumnadrochit Hotel, on the north side of the loch, to read up on the history of the Nessie sightings and hoaxes. This will let you form your own opinion on what lies beneath the water. Before starting out get some tasty home-baked lunch supplies at The Baking Birds in Drumnadrochit. Then leave all the tourists behind by driving up to the car park at the end of Bunloit Road with is reached via Lewiston; then pick up the footpath that will lead you to the summit of Meall Fuar-mhonaidh. It is only just 699m high, so it’s not a giant peak that is hard to climb, but it is a prominent point from which to gaze down on the entire loch. It’s from this point that monsters will be the last thing on your mind as you get lost in the views over to the hills and tiny lochans between you and Glen Affric.
When you decide it’s time to move on then retrace your steps and leave the loch behind to drive towards Aviemore and the heights of Cairngorms National Park.
Driving south on the A9 from Inverness and something changes. The peaks you’ve seen so far suddenly seem like small hills as proper mountains start to spring up from the roadside like giants. In the Cairngorms, a collection of peaks, many over 1, 200m, scrape the skyline and offer walkers the chance to get off the beaten track. As long as you have a map, compass and the ability to navigate on pathless terrain, all of which are vital.
The most accessible peak is Cairn Gorm, and a footpath weaves to its summit from Cairngorm Mountain. This makes it the climb for those that want the experience but don’t yet have the ability for a full mountain climb. Those feeling less energetic can take the funicular railway to a viewpoint to spot ptarmigan, snow bunting, eagles and even the only reindeer herd in Britain. It’s at this point that guided walks to the top are also available.
Remember that snow can linger on top well into spring, and even into the summer. After a refreshing walk visit the Cairngorm Sleddog Centre, which offers husky rides year-round. Then head back to Aviemore for a whisky at the Cairngorm Hotel before catching the sleeper train home, ready to be back at work the next morning.
This will really be a weekend to be remembered.
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