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.

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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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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

5 comments:

  1. ARE those photos for me?!!!I ADORE those COWS!!!!!Well, ALL COWS NO MATTER SIZE,COLOR or shape!THANK YOU for thinking of me on your vacation!!!!!The rags on the trees.........interesting concept!I must get to SCOTLAND and IRELAND before its TOO LATE!YOU have stirred the BEANS IN ME!!!Thank you for the photos!
    XX

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  2. Wonderful post and photos
    Clootie is a magical sounding word. I feel uneasyish seeing those strips if cloth hanging from branches in photos. I imagine in person the atmosphere must really feel weird. Its rewarding to learn about them, though.

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  3. Loree - I loved reading about Loch Ness. I have heard so many stories and the whole place intrigues me. Love the castle too that overlooks this place. As for Clootie - I am like you it doesn't sound like a place I would want to go back to see. Inverness looks like a gorgeous town to visit. Your photos are just awesome to see.
    P.S. Thanks too for visiting me. Glad you enjoyed seeing the trio of colors. Hugs!

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  4. Beautiful photos and such a cool story about Clootie Wells - there is a similar tradition in Greece. I've always been fascinated by the Loch Ness monster as well.

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  5. Beautiful photos!!! Loved to read about clootie, loch ness and Inverness. Thanks for share the cool story about Clootie Wells! Your blog brought my memories back to life. Glad that I got to visit Germany with a German Schengen Visa UK last year.

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