Haggis Tour - Spring '01

For the fourth week of my Easter holiday, I decided to take some time to see more of the country where I'd spent my last three months. So I signed up with Haggis Tours and ended up finding myself in the company of some of the best people I have ever had the privilege of travelling with. We travelled from Edinburgh as far north as Skye and Inverness, then back down to the lowlands.


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The city of Stirling was the first stop on our tour. The William Wallace monument is a spectacular stone pinnacle overlooking Stirling. William Wallace's sword (slightly different as seen in Braveheart). Over the river was Stirling Bridge where Wallace won a decisive battle over the English army of Edward I. This statue at the base of the mountain was unfortuantely modelled after Mel Gibson's portrayal of William Wallace and thus looks rather...interesting? The Wallace Monument.

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The inscription on the grave of Rob Roy MacGregor. The name of MacGregor was outlawed by government, but Rob Roy kept it to spite them. The graves of Rob Roy, his wife, and his sons. You can vaguely make out the carving of a man holding a sword on Rob Roy's grave. We couldn't make it to Kilchurn Castle due to foot and mouth restrictions, but here it is seen from afar. Typical Highland scenery near Kilchurn Castle. Loch Awe in the foreground. Also a foot and mouth restriction sign on the right. Beautiful scenes like this cropped up a dozen times a day. Glenfinnan on the shores of Loch Shiel. Rallying place of the clans by Bonnie Prince Charlie in the 18th century, and birthplace of Conor MacLeod, the Highlander.

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Glen Nevis, at the base of Ben Nevis, the highest peak in the UK (4406 ft). Also the filming location for much of Braveheart. Hairy Highland coos. Absolutely not cows. Touching the horns is said to be a powerful aphrodisiac. A look down Glen Nevis from the side of Ben Nevis. This is the path we were following up Ben Nevis. This is also about as far as we got. Sadly, we were later passed by several elderly hillwalkers who laughed at us as they went by. A look into Glen Nevis with some of my travelling companions in the foreground. You can just make out the yellow spot that is the Haggis bus right in the middle of the photo.

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A little river in Glen Nevis from which we each took a "wee sexy" stone. The purpose of this was later revealed... Inverlochy Castle. While it is still being stablizied, we had a picnic here, and then a furious soccer match between the northern and southern hemispheres, resulting in a draw. Our picnic spread in Inverlochy castle. The guys subsequently investigated the turret at the rear of the tower. Rick (left) from Australia and our tour guide Will enjoy a nice view from inside the turret. The first of five rainbows that we saw on our trip. The Well of the Heads on the shore of Loch Oich is a monument commemorating the execution of the murderers of the clan chief of Keppoch.

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This loch bears an uncanny resemblance to Scotland. The bridge in the middle is pretty much were the division between Scotland and England would be. Obviously the Scotland half is much nicer. The end location of all of those rocks we took from the base of Ben Nevis. On this site, the last haggis was killed in the 18th century. For the last six years, every passenger on a Haggis tour leaves a rock in this cairn. A close up of my rock, the small round layered one right in the middle. From right to left in the picture are Patrick, Liam, Justine, Bridget, Joy, Desiree, and Jocelyn. The nicest picture I took of Eilean Donan castle, famous from films like The World is Not Enough and Highlander. A truly beautiful castle. The interior of our tour bus. Megan (front) is wearing the late hat. A little waterfall on the Isle of Skye.

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One of the Cuillins. One of the oldest rock formations in the world. It's said that the Sligachan river is blessed by fairies, and anyone who sticks their face in the water for five seconds will get eternal life. Cris decides to give it a try. Well, hey, I'm a sucker for immortality. That water was damn cold. Will shys away from the look on my face. Sligachan bridge over the stream. Sligachan Glen on Skye on the other side of the bridge.

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The harbor of Portree, the biggest city on Skye, with a population of only a couple thousands. We stop at a wee waterfall for a coffee break and hike up to get some pictures. The Old Man of Storr is a rock formation on Skye. It's also said that there used to be an Old Woman of Storr, but that the pillar crashed down. The tears of the Old Man for the loss of his wife are said to have created this Loch at the stone's base. A lovely cold waterfall on Skye. Megan and Rodriguo pose at Kilt Rock on the western shore of Skye.

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The reason Kilt Rock got its name; the rocks resemble the pleating of a kilt. We start working our way up into the mountains after a refreshing lunch. A lovely view of Skye from the mountains. More mountainous terrain. A group shot at the top of the mountain. It's cold, but at least it's stopped raining. Of course, sitting at the top of the mountain while everybody takes a picture was a bit trying. Rune takes a peak into a gorgeous waterfall.

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Rodriguo and Cris, our married couple, pose with a lovely Skye background. Plockton (I think). A nice little town in northern Scotland where we wandered around for half an hour. A little loch we stopped at for a coffee break. Makes a beautiful backdrop. One of our other rainbows. This one faded as soon as we jumped out of the bus (of course). Still pretty. We crossed this swinging bridge (a limit of only six people at a time) over a deep gorge. I peeked over the edge enough to get a picture.

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Here's a view of the bridge from farther down the gorge. Another look down into the gorge. Ullapool is a little town at the end of Loch Broom. It is completely surrounded by hills, and has a pleasant little atmosphere. We stopped here for supplies before heading to the hostel for the night. This spot right outside our room in haunted Carbisdale Castle where we spent a night was previously inhabited by a small statue. Sometime during the night it mysteriously disappeared, freaking all of us out. When questioned about it vanishing, the night caretaker could only reply: "That happens." The mystery was solved the next morning when our neighbors down the hall replaced it from where they had been playing a trick on their friends. They duly apologized. The main hall of the Castle full of creepy statues.

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A look back at the staircase. The statue all the way in the back on the left (kneeling) actually moves back and forth and formerly controlled secret passages in the wall behind. Stained glass windows in Dornoch cathedral. Madonna had her child christened here, but it was a nice cathedral even before that. The rear of Dornoch cathedral. Rune and Joy look for inspiration in the cathedral while I take yet another attempt at capturing stained glass windows. Joy tries to get back to her childhood on the playground near Dornoch beach. Later on, we went to this bay to look for a population of bottle nosed dolphins which supposedly lived there. Sadly, we had no luck.

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The boys survey the bay and the lighthouse. From the left are Rick, John, and Rune. Rodriguo and Cris take a break from searching for dolphins. Aren't they cute? The battlefield at Culloden where Bonnie Prince Charlie was defeated. The field itself was closed due to foot and mouth. Looks like a crappy place to pick a fight, if you ask me. The lovely girls pose for me with the Haggis bus. From left are Sally, Jocelyn, the hairy coo, and Joy. The shores of Loch Ness. I'm desperately searching for the monster! Sal poses against the Loch Ness backdrop.

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Is that the monster? The group chills out at Loch Ness. Our New Zealanders Alicia and Bridget pose for the cameras. What's that in the distance? Duck or monster. You decide! Will takes a load off. As we head down to Ft. Augustus at the southern end of Loch Ness, I am compelled to take this picture from a moving bus.

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Urquhart castle at Loch ness. Ben gets kilted up at the Clansmen Center in Fort Augustus. Our presenter at the clansmen center, Johannes, poses in Highland garb for us. Ruthven barracks near Kingussie. Closed due to foot and mouth. Here was where Bonnie Prince Charlie decided to disband his armies. The roof was then blown off to prevent the English from using it as a base against the Scots. Rune and Joy pose in front of the castle. We took a tour at Dalwhinnie Distillery and were rewarded with a free shot of whiskey.

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The Forth rail bridge as seen from the neighboring suspension bridge. By Will's own admission, "the sexiest bridge in the world." The group assembles for one last time back in Edinburgh. From left to right in back, John, Patrick, Rune, Justine (with Rick hiding behind her), Shannen, Jocelyn, Alicia (under Bridget), Myself, Susanne, Benjamin, Rodriguo, and Liam. In front from left to right: Joy, Desiree, Megan, Sally, and Cris. Will is taking the pictures.

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