Our first stop was at the ruins of Urquhart Castle on the banks of Loch Ness near Dromnadrochit. Urquhart was seized by Edward I when he invaded Scotland, then taken back by Robert the Bruce. It was repeatedly attacked by the MacDonald Lords of the Isles in the 15th and 16th Centuries. It is a most picturesque ruin.
I didn't trust my knees to walk around the castle but enjoyed the views from the observation platform.
From there we went into Fort William for a lunch and shopping break. Fort William did not seem to have changed a lot since I was last here in 1972 - apart from the addition of some contemporary chain stores.Ben Nevis was invisible - shrouded in mist and cloud.
I was interested in the green, with its Memorial to those who died in the World Wars. Statue of Donald Cameron of Lochiel, head of the clan and MP, and a commemoration of WWII linked to friendship between Fort William, Dudley and Hiroshima - and in hope of peace.
and the Boy's Brigade. I found it very moving and uplifting - especially in a park with a War Memorial and in a community that has known wars and battles for a millennium.
From Fort William we made our way back through Spean Bridge,
We were shown around the garden and house, http://www.ardverikie.com/history.htm) over a remarkable high tea prepared on site, then allowed to examine a range of embroideries, including some Ottoman pieces. The rooms are comfortable and organised for family life, as well as bearing witness to the hunting tradition which attracted Queen Victoria and Prince Albert.
It was a remote and beautiful location, a most relaxed and welcoming visit with interesting and lovely embroideries. A privelige.
From there we made our way through the Grampians. skirting the Cairngorms national park, still in the cloud and misty rain, with snow still visible high on the mountains to Pitlochry,