It's the October week holiday at the schools and the Meiklejohns are off for a mini-break. We're heading up north this time, with a few days in Nairn. The weather was always going to be a gamble and we had freezing winds and plenty rain, but we made the most of it and enjoyed ourselves anyway.
On the trip up we stopped at a few places to make the journey part of the holiday. Our first stop was an unscheduled one though, as Cate fell prey to her first ever bout of travel sickness, brought on by the windy road at the top of Loch Lomond. Luckily we were just coming into Sloy, so we stopped for a while to recover and take in the sight of a rain-swept Loch Lomond.
On the road again and it didn't take us long to leave Loch Lomond behind, take a left at Crianlarich and find our way to the Green Welly Shop in Tyndrum. Here we had our lunch and viewed the rain-swept mountains before carrying on up into Rannoch Moor and Glencoe.
The Glencoe Visitor Centre was our next stop, with just time to visit the shop, go to the toilet and soak up the rain-swept vista from the viewing area.
Onwards and upwards, through Fort William, past Ben Nevis and up the Caledonian Canal, following Lochs Lochy, Oich and Ness. We stopped at the Urquhart Castle car park but were too tight to pay the fee to go down to the castle. Instead we got a couple of photos of the rain-swept castle and continued.
Drumnadrochit is only a couple of miles further on and we thought we'd try the Loch Ness Experience. This is a series of rooms with screens and objects relating to the hunt for Nessie, which takes you through a video history of sightings and searches for the monster. We thought it was very good. And dry!
Not far to go now, and we made our way through Inverness and out to Nairn, where our guest house, the Glebe End, is just next to a play park and the beach. Our hosts welcomed us in, we got ourselves unpacked and went in search of food, settling on the very nice Classroom restaurant.
We started Tuesday with a walk on the beach before breakfast. Cate made a new friend, Rocky, and adopted him for the rest of our stay. He was later joined by another beach-dweller, Shelley. We had a big breakfast at the B&B before deciding what to do with our day.
It was looking a bit grim so we thought it best to do something with an indoor element. The Culloden Visitor Centre has been done up recently and so we took a trip there to discover the story of the infamous battle. The interactive table displays were quite good, showing little icons on the map moving around as the various factions made their way around the country. And the room which showed the battle going on around you on all four walls was very effective.
We didn't spend much time outside but did take a quick visit to the battlefield itself. There are flags to show the Jacobite and Government lines, there's a little cottage and a memorial cairn.
After Culloden we crossed the Moray Firth to a spit of land in Fortrose know as Chanonry point, supposed to be the best place in Britain to watch dolphins. We didn't spot any, but the car did get a severe lashing from the rain.
Back across the bridge we found the cinema and went to the afternoon showing of The Lion King 3D. We had enough time afterwards for a wander around the park in Nairn before finding a chippy (The Dolphin, so we did see one after all) for dinner.
We had a short play down on the beach after breakfast, before driving to Cawdor to visit my Aunt and Uncle. I stayed there during the holidays when I was young and it was good to see familiar things and see what has changed. My cousin also visited with his wife and two dogs. We had a lovely lunch at a nearby garden centre before going back to Nairn.
We took the dogs down to the east beach at Nairn and walked along for a way, with a handy tennis ball found near the start. The dogs loved it, and so did Cate.
Afterwards we drove about 5 miles east to a shop called Brodie Countryfare, which sold all sorts of lovely stuff. Cate enjoyed playing at the kids table and I picked up a jar of lemon and lime marmalade.
We just had time for a last play at the park when we got back before finding a place to eat. The Albert Inn served us a nice meal.
After breakfast on Thursday it was time to head home. Instead of just a day of travel though, we planned to stop at Carrbridge for the Landmark forest adventure park. It was dry, though very cold, so we stayed there for a good three hours. We had fun on the roller coaster and the water chutes, and enjoyed the forest walk where we got to see some red squirrels.
After a walk through the maze and a visit to the Bamboozleum, it was time to head off down the A9 and back home. Nairn was cold and wet, but beautiful. One day we'll revisit when it's a bit warmer.
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