We got up early on Wednesday and took a taxi to the bus station where we were to meet a motorcoach at 8:15am for our day trip to Loch Ness and the Highlands. This was a "must-see" for Dennis who wanted to get as close to ancient Shaw lands as possible on our trip.
So, we got onto the bus and sat in the first seats. The driver gave us some earphones so we could listen to taped narration of what we were going past (we could choose which language to listen to it in). But the earpiece wasn't going to do Lisa any good as she can't use those in-the-ear pieces. The narration was interesting telling about Scotland itself, historical events surrounding Rob Roy MacGregor, the Jacobite Uprising, and the like. Dennis would tell Lisa time to time about any information on sites as he heard them on the earpiece. We stopped in Glen Coe for a snack and to see the natural beauty of the glen.
Then it was back on the bus seeing more beautiful scenery before stopping for lunch in Fort Augustus, a quiet little village on the South end of the mysterious Loch Ness. We did buy some trinkets during the stop before returning to the bus. One of the trinkets was a plant that "grows your own name". Lisa got that one for herself.
Next the driver drove along the length of Loch Ness at over 100 kph. Although the tour information said "We will make a stop, for some monster spotting, during our loch-side drive" , this didn't happen. The bus driver seemed to be trying to make up for lost time or something and we were forced to try and snap pictures out the bus window as we sped along.
Our next stop was Inverness, the Capital of the Highlands where we wandered around and stopped into several shops. On the way through the Spey Valley, which is the historic area where Clan Shaw originates from, the bus had a problem. The driver left the main road and stopped at a service station in a very small town. He didn't say anything to us, just got off the bus. So we sat there for a half hour or so and watched as other tour buses stopped at a bridge ahead of us and let people off to take pictures of something. We didn't know that it was an interesting bridge they were photographing until after we were underway again (of course our bus driver didn't stop).
This detour took us to within one and three quarters miles of the town of Aviemore. Dennis got excited about this because the Clan Shaw Castle was on the Rothiemurchus Estate in the River Spey near Aviemore. He was indeed on or very close to ancient Clan Shaw lands like he wanted to be! Of course it's back on the highway at speedway speeds for the driver, leaving Dennis to try snapping pictures of the River Spey and old structures through the bus window as we raced by.
The final stop was in the Victorian resort of Pitlochry where we were to get dinner, but we got in so late that they closed the dining room in the restaurant we were supposed to eat at, leaving us to head down the street for some fish and chips before returning to the bus and our race back to Edinburgh.
Overall the coach tour started off pretty cool, and Dennis loved being near his ancient home, but it was a very long time to be on the bus and was not made any easier by a driver who seemed to think he was in a Grand Prix race rather than a tourist bus.