Friday, July 31, 2009

Loch Ness Minus the Monster | UK Adventure Part VII

After a splendid day climbing around castles and dining in Inverness, we were ready to do it all over again.

So, we made our way along the lochs--think lakes--to the famous Loch Ness. Naturally, this was the very definition of tourist trap. I didn't see many shops or cafes that weren't touting some sort of connection with the fabled monster, so we tried our best to bypass all of that. We failed.

Nevertheless, the day was really quite lovely...and it became lovelier when we made it to Glencoe. But, I'm going to devote an entire blog post later to that lovely spot of earth because it's really worth it!

Loch Ness is a very deep lake, which makes for good reflections. Unfortunately, we saw it on a hazy day.
Loch Ness

The biggest tourist tra--I mean, local castle.

I thought this was kind of neat.

Urquhart Castle has a rather sad history--lots of switching hands and bloody battles. The last owners blew the gate up so no one would use it anymore.

I climbed down to the shoreline, despite there being a gate in the way (hey there was a path).

Drive by shooting--basically there's several lochs along the way from Loch Ness.

Massive memorial in the middle of nowhere.

Quaint town of Fort William. We lunched and souvenir shopped here.

13th Century Inverlochy Castle.
Inverlochy Castle

Now, you must stay tuned, for the best is yet to come...

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Become a Fan on Facebook

I've got some ideas for Birchtree Photography's fanpage...but I need more fans!

So, if you'd like to get instant updates and more (but wait, there's more!), become a fan today (and if you call in the next 10 minutes...).

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

A Round About Way to Inverness | UK Adventure Part VI

After clambering around Dunnottar Castle and spending a good night in Aberdeen, we were ready to hit up some more local castles. If you're just tuning in, you can get caught up on my UK adventure by clicking the Travels category.

Finally, we saw the light of day. I was beginning to doubt the sun would ever join us on our ride around Scotland, but the next morning was beautiful.

We were greeted at our first castle--Tolquhon--by this friendly face.

Tolquhon Castle

Was this hook used for torture, hanging meat, or the guard's strength and conditioning exercises? Your guess is as good as mine.

Mmmm...I could live here--if only there was a roof.

Jay was prepping for Loch Ness with this 'Nessie impression.

After Tolquhon Castle we stopped by the Lone Head Stone Circle. It's just what it sounds like (apparently it was used for cremation).

Next up was Huntley Castle.
Huntley Castle

Where you could still see some amazing detail (and claw-like clouds).

Ye Olde Privy

The third and last castle of the day was Balvenie. By now the rain clouds had also returned.
Balvenie Castle

Not much remained here.

We didn't pay our fees, so I had to do some grounds work.

A local repair man at the castle told us we must visit the nearby distillery. It wasn't on our plans, but we decided to go for it.

Turns out it was the world famous Glenfiddich whisky distillery.

Looks like Ken got into a barrel before the tour started.

The tour was actually pretty interesting--and hot!

Now I know all about single malt vs. blended, cooperages, and the head, heart, and tail of whisky...

Finally we drove the rest of the way to Inverness and arrived as the sun was setting.

Coming and going.

And Jay did what boys do best--throw things into water, preferably slimy rocks with plants attached to them.

Mr. {dead} Jellyfish.

The sun was still bright at 9 o'clock.

We dined in a little pub. Looks like someone else had hoped to get a table, too.

Stay tuned for Loch Ness...coming up next!