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Day 2 – Grantown-on-Spey – Fort Augustus – Gairloch 

Leaving Grantown and the Speyside behind us the morning after, we ventured deeper into the Highlands, making our way through the Glen ways towards Fort Augustus. We stopped enroute at a vantage point in the empty countryside, from where on a clear day you’d be able to spot up to 7 lochs. A short stop later, we made our way along a military road built in the 1700’s towards Fort Augustus; to get our first view of the famous Loch Ness and hopefully the monster as well :P

At Fort Augustus, we visited this cute place called the Boathouse, which like the name suggests, is almost suspended by the lake and also a nice place for some good food, kebabs in particular.

The monster had not greeted us yet, but there would be more time for it as we drove along the Loch Ness towards the first castle of the trail; enter Urquhart castle.

Nestled on the banks of the Loch Ness, this ruined castle has a vast history and a strong significance in the region due to its strategic location. In its long history of over a 1000 years, the castle has witnessed the most number of sieges and battles amongst all Scottish castles. 

What began as a fort soon turned into a full-fledged castle and bustling settlement; passing through many rulers and a medieval stronghold for the Scots in their long-standing struggle against the English. Its strategic location made it the centre point of a number of raids, passing from Clan to the Crown and back; culminating in the castle being blown up in the Jacobite uprising against the Crown.

Today, this partially restored castle stands tall over the picturesque Loch Ness; a reminder of its grim yet mighty history. 

During your visit, do not forget to miss the live shows in the castle grounds, which are entertaining and give you an insight into the daily life of a Highlander back in the medieval times.

An interesting ceremony of sorts in those times was that of the Quaich, known as the love cup. A two-handed cup used to share a drink, it was a symbol of trust and a celebration of a bond between two clans or even two guests in the Highlands.

A tour of the Urquhart castle is priced at 12 GBP per person; while daily cruises from Fort Augustus or Inverness to the castle, through the Loch Ness start at 30 GBP. That might be a sure shot way to meet the monster, who successfully evaded us.

An insight into some Scot history and we made our way back on to the road, driving towards the western coast of Scotland. Passing through more stunning scenery and such views over the Loch Maree, we made our way to the quaint town of Gairloch for the night.

Stay – The Myrtle Bank hotel, a super sunset as a view and some freshly smoked-salmon for company for the night.

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