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Scotland's Highlands and Loch Ness

UNITED KINGDOM | Thursday, 12 January 2017 | Views [273]

Who does a 12 hour tour??? Well we did. Up early; layered upon extra layer and out into the very fresh early morning air for our 8am departure. Now, keep in mind, 8am in Scotland in winter is DARK! Our meeting point was Rabbie's Cafe, the perfect spot for a quick croissant (yes, a bit French in Scotland) and coffee, before meeting our Rabbie's Tour Guide. Grant is a knowledgeable and entertaining young man full of excitement and a passion for sharing his country. A map of Scotland sat above his head which he was ale to refer easily to throughout the day. The first thing he pointed out was that this day "it looks nothing like that" but that it was completely covered in white. Yes, we finally found snow. Scotland had had heavy falls overnight in many areas and we were guaranteed to see it at some point. Little did we know that we would see it at EVERY point!

Scotland had certainly turned it on for us! We had been told what a lovely country it is. But with a covering of snow? Breathtaking!

Our first stop was beside a small lake, a favourite stop of our guide. As we alighted from our ride (a small bus with 16 passengers) it was snowing. We grabbed a hot drink from the small cafe to warm our insides while we played in the snow, built a snowman (of sorts), and just savoured the whole experience. It was a heavy fall while we were there almost completely covering the tracks our bus had created as it entered the car park. Special moments!

We continued to track upwards, all of us hoping that the roadsides would maintain their icy beauty while the roads remained clear and passable. As we reached one of the highest points we knew we were past the point of no return. We were going to make it all the way to Loch Ness!

We caught the occasional glimpse of blue sky and (less occasionally) some sunshine. It just made the scenery more beautiful as the snow sparkled before us. We passed sheep and hairy cattle grazing (as best they could), and even caught sight of the occasional deer searching for food in the lower hills. We saw an ancient peat bog and got to walk on it to take some amazing photos of the valleys surrounding it. We passed through the "Forbidden Forest" (H. Potter), saw the location chosen for Hogwarts, Skyfall scenes, Holy Grail castles, Outlander country, GOT country, and Skyrim (gamers?).

Our ultimate northern reach for the day was, indeed, Loch Ness, and a search for???? Nope, best we could do was a few ducks on the river feeding in to the massive waterway. What a beautiful, tranquil, spectacular spot (see photo gallery). And this is where we got to enjoy a local lunch in one of the pubs.

With none of us on board managing to get the squillionaire making pic or video of Nessie we headed out of town back in the direction of Edinburgh. Grant was happy to stop for some special request photo stops and also showed us a less visited waterfall just off the road. It was a bit of a walk through the snow covered trees and pretty close to dark but oh so beautiful (and a site used as inspiration for Skyrim - gamers will know what I'm on about).

A couple of comfort stops and a few hours on the road and we arrived back in the big city very tired but so very satisfied with a fabulous day spent in amazing surroundings.

The 12 hour (and 10 minutes) tour was one of the best trips we've experienced!

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