Searching for Nessie: Northern Scotland with a Fellow Canadian

Loch Ness and Urquhart Castle

Loch Ness and Urquhart Castle

I was very lucky to have one of my best friends, B, come to visit me for three weeks. After months of planning and anticipation, we were finally together and able to begin our Northern exploration. Our itinerary was rushed – 3 days, 2 nights for a whirlwind tour of Inverness and St Andrews.

Inverness is about 4 hours north of Edinburgh by bus or train, and is most sought by tourists for its proximity to the infamous Loch Ness. Of course, B and I decided we would be the ones to FINALLY discover the truth behind the mystery of the Loch Ness monster. Previous explorers were clearly not up to our intellectual level, which lead to their inevitable failure. We, however, would be the ones to find Nessie.

Oh look! There she blows!

Oh look! There she blows!

When we arrived at Loch Ness, I was pleasantly surprised that (other than the castle) it looked very much like my home on Vancouver Island in Canada. Strange.

Scotland? Or Canada?

Scotland? Or Canada?

The main tourist attraction at the Loch, other than Nessie spotting, is Urquhart Castle.

Some

Some of these ruins date back to the 13th century!

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After spending a few hours at Urquhart, B and I sat down on the beach for a snack, and a dejected last effort to spot the monster of the Loch.

No, B, it's just a swan. Sorry.

No, B, it’s just a swan. Sorry.

Back in Inverness, I was determined to have a look around before the sun set and we were hostel-bound til morning and departure for St Andrews.

Inverness

Inverness

Inverness was surprisingly stunning. I had no idea what to expect of this city in the north, but I would love to go back there one day to see what else this wee beauty has to offer.

Inverness Castle, having been rebuilt several times.

Inverness Castle, having been rebuilt several times.

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River Ness

River Ness

After a suffocating sleep in a room shared with four men who had clearly won and decided to use a lifetime supply of axe (lynx) body spray, B and I woke to a beautiful day, and our impending train ride to St Andrews. I must say, this train journey held the most spectacular highland scenery. B concluded that Hogwarts could easily be hidden somewhere in these remote hills, and that we should probably go looking for it.

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I decided that this would probably not be a stellar idea since Hogwarts has muggle-repelling charms placed on it, our search would be for nought.

"Is that it? Is that it?" No, B, no."

“Is that it? Is that it?”
No, B, no.”

When we finally arrived in St Andrews, I was reminded of all the reasons I fell in love with Scotland in the first place.

Magnificent view of St Andrews Old Course

Magnificent view of St Andrews Old Course

Scottish people make fun of St Andrews for being too English, since the University draws a lot of posh students, and the reputation of the golf courses draw a lot of, well, those kind of people. Golfers. But these are not the things that make St Andrews special to me. It is seriously an amazing place. Between the sea, the cathedral and castle ruins, the long-running beach and the accessibility of the whole town by foot, it is the perfect specimen of British-seaside-village.

Puffin roosts!

Puffin roosts!

 

Cathedral ruins

Cathedral ruins

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Castle ruin!

Castle ruin!

I was delighted that I largely remembered how to get around, my last time there having been nine years ago, and I even recognized the building I had stayed in!

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B also loved St Andrews, being an avid fan of the Royals, especially Will and Kate.

Site of the Royal first date...?

Site of the Royal first date…?

We took a long walk down the beach, famously featured in Chariots of Fire. We did not run.

View from the far end of the beach.

View from the far end of the beach.

I was disappointed that we had to leave so quickly, but we’ve made each other a promise that, when we are rich of course, we will come back to Britain and rent a car so that we can create our own schedule.

A final LOL

A final LOL

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About amblingalana

Just a Canadian girl who abandoned British Columbia to try her luck in Bonnie Scotland. Feminist, long-term travel enthusiast, aspiring writer.

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