Road to Glasgow – Day 18

I thought there would not be any more images since I don’t usually take images from the coach due to the glare, reflections and generally dirty or wet windows.  I did want to try to get one though, since you are missing out on seeing the wonderful landscapes we have traveled.  We are now driving by a number of lochs and what you can see are tons of farmland  with white dots of sheep.  The dark areas are trees which are planted for lumber. We have passed numerous areas where the trees are planted in rows to maximize the area for trees.   Shot from the coach.
We traveled passed Loch Ness again.  We stopped this time at the Urquhart Castle ruins.    Once one of Scotland’s largest castles, Urquhart saw great conflict during its 500 years as a medieval fortress. Control of the castle passed back and forth between the Scots and English during the Wars of Independence. The power struggles continued, as the Lords of the Isles regularly raided both castle and glen up until the 1500s.  The last of the government troops garrisoned here during the Jacobite Risings blew up the castle when they left. Urquhart’s iconic ruins remain, offering glimpses into medieval times and the lives of its noble residents.  We didn’t go down and into the ruins, which was a shame, but so much to see and so little time, it was nice to at least stopping long enough to get a long range shot.

The canal runs some 60 miles from northeast to southwest. Only one third of the entire length is man-made, the rest being formed by Loch Dochfour, Loch Ness, Loch Oich, and Loch Lochy. These lochs are located in the Great Glen, on a geological fault in the Earth’s crust. There are 29 locks (including eight at Neptune’s Staircase, Banavie), four aqueducts and 10 bridges in the course of the canal.  The canal was conceived as a way of providing much-needed employment to the Highland region. The area was depressed as a result of the Highland Clearances, which had deprived many of their homes and jobs. Laws had been introduced which sought to eradicate the local culture, including bans on wearing tartan, playing the bagpipes, and speaking Gaelic. Many emigrated to Canada or elsewhere, or moved to the Scottish Lowlands. The canal would also provide a safer passage for wooden sailing ships from the north east of Scotland to the south west, avoiding the route around the north coast via Cape Wrath and the Pentland Firth. The work began on the canals back in 1803.  Because of the remoteness of the location, construction was started at both ends, so that completed sections could be used to bring in the materials for the middle sections.
We stopped in Fort Augustus at one of the swing bridge locks, with perfect timing to see a couple of boats pass through.

While there we looked for Nessie, but I guess we were not early enough (I heard she was an early riser) or she just didn’t want to be photographed.
So I had to make due with her statue –    and a rainbow.
David our program director brought some smoked halibut for everyone to try as we watched the ships pass through a number of locks here.
As we walked back to the coach – 
We drove on to stop at a special spot.  
The Commando Memorial is a  monument in Scotland, dedicated to the men of the original British Commando Forces raised during World War II. Situated around a mile from Spean Bridge village, it overlooks the training areas of the Commando Training Depot established in 1942 at Achnacarry Castle. Unveiled in 1952 by the Queen Mother, it has become one of the United Kingdom’s best-known monuments, both as a war memorial and as a tourist attraction offering views of Ben Nevis and Aonach Mòr.
Ben Nevis is the highest mountain in the British Isles, located in Scotland. Standing at 4,411 ft above sea level, it is located at the western end of the Grampian Mountains in the Lochaber area of the Scottish Highlands, close to the town of Fort William.
 Our view with a dramatic sky.

After our short visit to this memorial, we drove on to Fort William, for a break and some lunch.  Fort William is the second largest settlement in the Highlands of Scotland with around 10,000 inhabitants – and the largest town: only the city of Inverness larger. Fort William is a major tourist center, with Glen Coe just to the south, Aonach Mòr to the east and Glenfinnanto the west, on the Road to the Isles. It is a center for hillwalking and climbing due to its proximity to Ben Nevis and many other Munro mountains. It is also known for its nearby downhill mountain bike track.

The view just outside of town.  
As we continued our drive to Glasglow, we stopped at Loch Lomond at a park by the Sloy/Awe Hydro-Electric Scheme, a hydro-electric facility situated between Loch Sloy and Inveruglas on the west bank of Loch Lomond.
  The stairs up to a viewing platform.

Next stop – Glasgow.

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