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Photo Friday: Inverness, Scotland

The skies were dark and ominous, with thick brown clouds hovering just overhead, the day we went from Skye to Inverness. Then again, this is Scotland—they almost always are, which only makes the bluebird days even more precious.

Urquhart Castle, Inverness, ScotlandBesides, it wouldn’t be right to visit Urquhart Castle on a sunny day anyway, as bad things once happened here. After you pay your admission (£7.20 for adults, £5.70 for seniors, £4.30 for students) at the visitor’s center, you’ll be ushered into a small theater and shown a movie, a reenactment really of the bloody battles that happened here long ago.

Urquhart Castle, Inverness, ScotlandThe castle was built in the 13th century, perched atop Loch Ness (yes, that Loch Ness, home to Nessie). According to Visit Scotland, Urquhart was then “seized by the English in 1296, sacked by the MacDonald Lord of the Isles in 1545 and left to fall into decay after 1689.” Now, it’s just a pile of dilapidated rocks fringing the shoreline.

Urquhart Castle, Inverness, ScotlandYou only need an hour, tops, to explore the ruins, as there’s not a whole lot to see, though if you’re a history buff, you might want to allot a bit of extra time to read through all the material on the walls in the visitor’s center.

Urquhart Castle, Inverness, ScotlandUrquhart Castle, Inverness, ScotlandAs we were leaving a funny thing happened: A bumbling Frenchman approached us with his camera. He didn’t speak a lick of English, so I assumed he wanted us to take a photo of him and his buddies. But no, he wanted us in the picture with him! I’m used to this in Asian countries, as I’m sure any Westerner is, but not in Europe where I more or less look like everyone else (OK, maybe marginally tanner). He was cute, and the whole thing was funny. Not sure why he didn’t ask Mom to be in the photo, as well! Maybe he just saw Kari and me dancing around like idiots on the lawn and figured we’d be game. (We were, of course. Always.)

Urquhart Castle, Inverness, ScotlandThe castle is about 17 miles outside of the town, on the western edge of the loch. From Inverness, you can take boat tours out to Urquhart Castle, let passengers off to mill about for a spell and then return to town. You’ll also be able to keep your eyes peeled for the Loch Ness Monster on the ride. Due to the weather, we didn’t opt for this route, but I did it once, back in 2003, and it was a great way to pass the time. Either way, I encourage you to take a day and poke around Inverness while in the area, as it really is a cute, hip town.

Inverness, Scotland

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Comments ( 32 )

  1. we stopped at that castle while traveling around scotland but never got as far as the parking lot. i just couldn’t be bothered to pay any money to see it up close so peaked at it through the chain link fence before carrying on. and should you (or anyone find themselves) back in inverness, i can’t recommend “the mustard seed” restaurant enough! very fancy and delicious three-course meal for around 6 pounds!

    • I’m 90 percent sure that’s where we did eat, based on the photos on the Mustard Seed site–we were coaxed in by the lure of a three-course meal for $10-ish, and it was divine! The service was great, too; we loved our server.

  2. You are really making me want to go back to Scotland too! :)
    Lisa recently posted..Looking Back at 2012My Profile

  3. I was on a bus tour which went passed the castle. I managed to get off and take some snaps from the road but that was as close as I got. I was drawn to the castle, it’s got such a beauiful setting. What a place it would have been in it’s prime. Shame fighting had to ruin it!
    Vicki @ Knocked Up and Abroad recently posted..The Knocked Up Wrap UpMy Profile

  4. Great pics and post! I especially love the last shot of the town..so cute. Still haven’t made it to Scotland, but hope to one day :)

  5. Interesting pile of rock. You’re mother looks to be freezing and happy to hide in that little alcove. And the tourist, he wanted his photo taken with you two beautiful ladies.
    Gaelyn recently posted..Golden Gate Highlands National Park South Africa is on the list of parks to visitMy Profile

  6. I feel like those gray skies just make the grass look even greener – and that old piles of rocks look fascinating. I’ve only ever been on one castle, in Germany, and it was crazy to stand someplace older than my own country.
    terra recently posted..{5 Points} The 5 Year Anniversary Edition: Random Us ThingsMy Profile

    • And I’ve never been to a castle in Germany! Though I’m dying to–I am a total softie for castles. Did you, by chance, go to the one that was the inspiration for Disney’s Cinderella castle???

  7. You know that old Frenchman went home and told all his buddies you two lovelies were his main squeeze in Scotland. ;)
    Sonja recently posted..Photo Friday: Lovely Playa El Salón in NerjaMy Profile

  8. Oh Kristin – you are getting me excited! I am going to Scotland in September – my fourth trip … however the last one was 1994 so I am way overdue! The highlight? Walking the Great Glen Way from Fort William to Inverness – there are a group of us doing this so it should be a blast. Walking a long distance path in Britain has been on “the list” for a long time. I’ve seen Urquhart Castle from the road but never stopped – I will be this time as we will be walking close by!!! Also I am revisiting your favourite city afterwards. Funny but I always have found Edinburgh gloomy and depressing however so many bloggers love it so am going to give it another try and hope it works it’s magic on me. (though I will always be faithful to my true love…London) Thanks for all your inspiration.

    Laurie (5 more sleeps until SE Asia but who’s counting???)
    Laurie recently posted..What will 2013 bring?My Profile

    • That sounds like an epic hike! I remember when I was a student in Edinburgh in 2003, and there was a hill-walking club at the student activities fair. I thought it sounded like the funniest thing and then came to learn that it’s very much a BIG thing in the UK!

      Enjoy Asia … but enjoy Edinburgh even more (I hope!) =)

  9. It’s so green! I’m sold I’d like to go!

  10. What stunning pictures! This place looks gorgeous!
    Terumi recently posted..Lovely Place to Pack a Lunch (Olympic Sculpture Park, Seattle WA)My Profile

  11. Ohh, love your pictures. Well done!

  12. Lovely photos! My husband and I went to Scotland for the first time this fall, and I can’t wait to go back. It’s truly one of the most gorgeous places on earth.
    Kindra recently posted..Amsterdam SectionMy Profile

  13. It is sad to see this castle, with such a great but bloodied history, lying in ruins. But I do not know why, I find this ruin amidst lush green all around, very pretty! I would love to visit this castle, when I visit Scotland next, yes I am a history buff, so I guess I would be spending more than an hour there.

  14. I love the colors in that last picture. It looks like a fairytale!
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  15. The furtherest north I have been to is Newcastle but I am very tempted to visit Scotland this summer. Loch Ness would definitely be on my list then.
    Shalu Sharma recently posted..Arriving at Delhi’s Indira Gandhi International AirportMy Profile

  16. I can immediately relate to the description of the weather you just gave. When I visited Inverness for the first time, it was such wet weather, with rain pouring down incessantly. Unfortunately, I have got very few chances to experience warm sun in Inverness, which is quite a visual treat.

    • Scotland’s weather reminds me so much of living in San Francisco–even though the number on the thermometer may not read that low, it feels at least 10 degrees cooler thanks to the permanent dampness that cloaks the country.

  17. Lovely pics! :) Great one.
    exotic travels and vacations recently posted..Travel Plan This FebruaryMy Profile

  18. I was in Scotland this past Spring and unfortunately didn’t make it that far north. Next time around for sure! This has been on my list for ages!

  19. I remember seeing Urquhart Castle from the water. We were boating from Fort William to Inverness and needed a place to dock for the night. It was summer, so it didn’t get dark until really late. As we approached the small moorings nearby, we looked up to see one lone piper standing on the rocks beside the castle, which had long since closed for the day. We were able to climb up and wander around before the castle opened in the morning. I love the wild parts of Scotland.
    Meg B recently posted..Warning: Not-For-Mealtime ReadingMy Profile

  20. I have always wanted to go to Scotland for as long as I remember. It is way high up on my bucket list. I love seeing these pics of the ruins and the castle. It’s so beautiful. Great pictures, sounds like a fun adventure.
    Ali recently posted..Essentials For An Overnight Kayaking TripMy Profile

  21. Lovely pictures. My husband and I are going to Scotland in August to celebrate our 30th anniversary! I am a shutterbug and look forward to taking pictures of the beautiful countryside. I saw in another post that you stayed in Portree also. We are planning to stay in Portree and Inverness. Can you recommend a hotel or B&B in these towns?

    • We stayed at the Grasmhor and had a great experience! It’s tucked away in the countryside but just out of the main downtown. We had tried the Pink Guest House based on online reviews but they were booked while we were there.

      http://www.grasmhor.co.uk/

      I have only ever stayed in hostels in Inverness, so I fear I’m no help there (though it is such a lovely town!).

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