Sincerely, Loree is a lifestyle blog that focuses on travel, books, culture, fashion and slow living on the small Mediterranean island of Malta.

Tuesday, 27 November 2018

Loch Ness, Inverness and a clootie well

Loch Ness

I was around 8 years old when I first heard about Nessie and Loch Ness in a book I was reading called ‘Greatest Mysteries’. To an eight-year old, the possibility of a primeval creature living in the dark waters of a loch in Scotland sounded like the perfect recipe for an adventure. I never made it to Loch Ness at an age when I still believed in the possibility of mythical creatures. Nonetheless, our visit in early September brought some type of closure to the whole mystery. Even without Nessie’s allure, Loch Ness is stunningly beautiful.

Loch Ness 2Loch Ness

We took a guided tour with Jacobite Cruises and learnt a lot about Loch Ness. It is the second largest loch in Scotland and its water is dark and murky due to the high peat content of the surrounding soil. It contains the largest volume of water in the British Isles and more fresh water than all the lakes of England and Wales combined. But due to the peat in the water, oxygen levels are very low and cannot sustain creatures above a certain size. Which means that science has debunked the myth of the Loch Ness monster.But I have no doubt that the legend will live on and that there will continue to be ‘sightings’ in the future.

Loch Ness 3Loch Ness 4

Even without Nessie, Loch Ness has an aura of mystery and majesty. Surrounded by brooding hills, its dark waters lapping at the forested shore-line and with the added romance of the remains of Urquhart Castle casting its reflection onto its surface, it is no wonder that Loch Ness remains one of the most popular destinations in the Scottish Highlands.

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Inverness

The cool loch air had made us hungry so we drove along a very scenic route to Inverness. On the way I just had to stop and take a couple of photos of some Highland ‘coos’ for my friend Elizabeth. Elizabeth loves cows and I have no doubt that she will appreciate these long-haired beauties.

Highland coos 2Highland coos

We stopped for lunch at the Black Isle Bar. Their wood-fired pizzas are excellent as is their selection of beers.

Black Isle Bar, Inverness

After lunch we walked around Inverness for a while. The city is picturesque and very pedestrian-friendly. We climbed the hill to Inverness Castle from where we had some excellent views of Inverness and the River Ness. The castle is not open to the public but its grounds are accessible to anyone who wishes to stroll around and take some photos or simply enjoy the view.

Inverness

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Inverness 3Inverness 5Inverness 6Inverness 7Inverness 8

While we would have liked to spend some more time in this Highland city we had to move on to our next destination: the clootie well in Munlochy on nearby Black Isle.

Munlochy Clootie Well

Those of you who have been reading my blog for a while will know that I have a weakness for places that are out of the ordinary and a clootie well fits perfectly into the ‘weird and wonderful’ description of such places.

Clootie wells have their origin in Celtic tradition. They are wells or springs with trees growing beside them. In pre-Christian times it was believed that a nymph or nature spirit inhabited the water, which endowed it with special healing properties. Sick people would visit these wells or springs and wash the afflicted part of their body with a clootie (from cloot, a Scottish word for a narrow strip of cloth). They would then tie the rag to one of the branches of the surrounding trees and the ailment was supposed to fade away as the cloth disintegrates. After Scotland became Christian, the healing properties of these springs were attributed to Christian saints. The clootie well in Munlochy is dedicated to Saint Boniface.

Munlochy Clootie Well 2Munlochy Clootie Well 3Munlochy Clootie Well 4

Visiting the clootie well was definitely a different experience to anything we had experienced in Scotland so far. The place had an eerie atmosphere. I wouldn’t call it sinister but it definitely felt slightly oppressive. Hundreds of rags of all shapes and colours have been tied to the branches of the trees, some of them bearing messages to departed loved ones. It all felt a little bit sad and the rags gave the trees a strange, bedraggled look. Although I was glad to have satisfied my curiosity and my love for unusual places, I can safely say that one visit is enough to last me a lifetime. I definitely would not recommend a visit to a clootie well to a lone traveller – especially anyone with an imagination as flighty as mine.

Munlochy Clootie Well 5Munlochy Clootie Well

Locations: Loch Ness, Inverness & Munlochy (Scotland) – September 2018

Wednesday, 14 November 2018

The road to Inverness: the Kelpies, Pitlochry and a beach in Nairn

Chessels Court
On our fourth day in Scotland we left our cute apartment in Chessels Court (that we called ‘the apartment with a heart’ on account of an ivy plant trimmed into the shape of a heart just outside the front door) and started our drive to  Inverness. About 15-20 minutes out of Edinburgh we came across the Kelpies. These 30 metre-high stainless steel horsehead sculptures loom over the motorway and are impossible to miss. We decided not to visit the park where they are located but stopped the car on the shoulder of the motorway to snap a few photos.

Tuesday, 30 October 2018

Edinburgh Day 3: Holyrood House, Holyrood Abbey and Mary King’s Close

The Palace of Holyrood House is the official residence of the Monarchy in Scotland. Before The kingdoms of England and Scotland were joined in 1603 by the accession to the throne of King James I of England and VI of Scotland, Holyrood House was the home of the Scottish royal family.
Palace of Holyrood House 1
Palace of Holyrood House 2Palace of Holyrood House 3
Holyrood House started off as an Augustinian Abbey in 1128. The oldest part of the palace, the north-west tower (on the left hand side of the photos below), dates back to 1501.

Monday, 15 October 2018

Edinburgh Day 2: Dean Village and New Town

Dean Village is a haven of tranquillity in the midst of a bustling city.It is within walking distance of Edinburgh’s New Town. Although we were staying further afield, a leisurely hour’s walk got us there without a problem.

Dean Village

Dean Village 6

Dean Village is situated along a river known as the Water of Leith. Due to the river’s strong currents the village was a successful grain milling area for more than 800 years. At one time there were eleven working mills in this part of Edinburgh. The village is low-lying and the arches of Dean Bridge span the river about 100 feet above it.

Thursday, 4 October 2018

Edinburgh Day 1: Edinburgh Castle and the Royal Mile

Edinburgh Castle

Edinburgh Castle 2

Edinburgh Castle sits atop an extinct volcano at the highest point of the Royal Mile. For nine centuries it defended the city from its enemies, with the Scots taking full advantage of the unobstructed views that stretch for miles to the Firth of Forth and the distant hills to counter any potential attack.

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