Friday, January 20, 2023

Scotland III

Next day we headed further north, leaving Skye and driving up a series of mostly one-lane roads, sticking as close to the coast as possible through Torridon and on to the nature reserve at Beinn Eighe.  This is one of the only places where you can see a sizeable remnant of the original Scots Pine forest of Scotland - the rest having been overgrazed by deer or grouse, or planted to Sitka Spruce for timber.

We took the short trail here, but I did persuade the others to come on the short hike with me, and we did see some very tall straight Scots Pine..  We ended the day at our B&B in Gairloch and had Sticky Toffee Pudding, one of the best deserts I've ever had!

The next stop was for Mrs. F.G. the gardener, for we arrived at Inverewe, one of the most northerly gardens in Britain.  The huge semi-circular walled garden was built originally to provide shelter from the relentless winds, and today is spectacular in summer.

That's me, standing underneath the enormous leaves of a Gunnera, like giant's rhubarb!.

The North Atlantic current that moves up the west coast of Scotland enables the growth of many plants that rarely grow this far north, like Palm trees!

Leaving Inverewe behind we drove down to the shores of Loch Ness to see Urquhart Castle,   We scanned carefully for signs of Nessie, the Loch Ness Monster, but had no luck!

You might even recognize this castle, Balmoral Castle, said to be Queen Elizabeth's favourite residence.  After we left Inverness in our dust and drove up and over the east side of the Cairngorms, we stopped to visit.

The Queen and Prince Phillip were due to arrive within days for their annual holiday (this was about 20 years ago) so you couldn't visit much of the castle, but this is the Queen Mother's Rose Garden, just outside the door.

We stopped at the working gardens on our way out and I was fascinated.  Back at home I was the worker been for our own garden, so the special purpose of these gardens jumped right out at me.  The flowers were all due to bloom and the veggies were all going to be ready for harvest during the Queen's time in residence.  The flowers were all planted in beds for cutting to decorate the castle, not to look at in the garden.  And I think they must eat a lot of cabbage!


  1. This is a wonderful visit. It is a beautiful county and the gardens are great to see. I have found that I have a family branch that came from Scotland a few generations ago. They arrived in America and immediately bought a southern plantation.

  2. I love that garden, and then the rose garden was wonderful to see as well. Beautiful pictures!

  3. Thank you for the tour of part of Scotland. Would you have been allowed to tour Balmoral if the Queen had been in residence?

  4. When you mentioned the straight Scotch Pine, I *think* I remember being told that they don't grow straight here. Maybe it was a different tree though.

  5. You seem to be roughly following the route that I took on an early holiday in Scotland so I'm enjoying this series very much for reasons of nostalgia. The walls in many of those walled gardens also have another purpose - hot air from a furnace is directed through flues built into the brickwork, making what was called a "hot wall". Fruit trees were then trained along the wall to produce an early crop.

  6. You have definitely increased my desire to visit Scotland for a land tour. I can tell that a trip via a cruise with a short stop in a couple of ports will not be enough time to explore. Like Mrs. F.G. I'm a fan of visiting gardens, and add in a castle and I'd be in heaven.
    Truly enjoying these posts!

  7. Someone is eating a lot of cabbage. Guess that’s why she lived to 96. Beautiful area!

  8. Both your previous posts and this one have been so enjoyable, thank you.

    All the best Jan