10:30 at night has never looked so picnic-able
One of the first things I noticed on my Haggis Adventures trip is that the farther north we went in Scotland, the more ridiculously long the days became.
I was expecting this. It’s not like I’ve never taken a science class before. But still, experiencing full daylight at 10:30 p.m. was new to me and most of the other people in my group, and almost every night we’d look around at 11 or 12 p.m. and say, “Can you believe it? Doesn’t it feel more like 7:00?”
This also means that the sun comes out super early in the morning, and I often woke up around 5 a.m. thinking it was about time to get out of bed, only to look at my clock and see that I could sleep for another three hours.
It takes some getting used to.
So it was after our late night in Inverness that we crawled onto the bus at 9:00 a.m. to head to Loch Ness for two days of Nessie hunting (or biking, boating, hiking, shopping or whatever else you wanted to do).
Loch Ness is much bigger than I thought it would be. Larger in terms of area, but also in depth. It contains more water than all the lakes in England and Wales combined – it’s not your local swimming hole.
It’s also stunningly beautiful. We were lucky enough to see it on a really clear, sunny day and the surface was mirror smooth.
People have been looking for the Loch Ness monster since 565 a.d., but luckily we had Greg the Haggis Guide to show us the quick way to summon Nessie. He taught us the Nessie Hakka, performed with traditional novelty head wear, to ensure we’d see the great beast.
And there she is:
We also stopped for a quick photo of Urquart Castle (you can go back on your free day if you want to have a closer look at it) and then went on to see Ben Nevis and the Scottish Commando Memorial.
The Commando Memorial, looking out at Ben Nevis
And then, I’m pretty sure it was just because Greg the Guide saw my Gryffindor scarf, he took us to the Harry Potter bridge. You have to climb a little hill to see it but once you do you can also see the lake where the underwater challenge for the Tri-Wizard Tournament was held.
The Harry Potter bridge at Glenfinnan
Get your gillyweed ready
It just happened that on the way there we also saw a steam train just like the one used for the Hogwarts Express, so all in all it was a very magical afternoon.
Our hostel for the next two nights was Morag’s Lodge, a cozy, clean place just up the road from the main street in Fort Augustus. It comes with a bar, picnic tables and free Internet and Wi-Fi. What backpacker doesn’t appreciate that? They also did up a nice Sunday roast, so take advantage of that if you can.
A few locals popped in for karaoke our first night there, so get your voice warmed up to join in. Tartan togas are provided and the bartender is happy to recommend a good whiskey. They all tasted like battery acid to me, but the Aussies assured me that they were very smooth.
Sometimes Aussies lie.