After leaving Castle Urquhart you will pass through the small village of Lewiston here you will find a garage where you can buy fuel and there is also a small shop attached. There is also the Loch Ness Inn near by. Continuing the A82 you come to the outskirts of Drumnadrochit and the general store in the form of a mini market and cash machine, and take away meals. If you have the time a trip along the road that branches of to the left will take you to the Divach Falls a beautiful water fall set back in woods offering a most tranquil scene and well worth a visit. This road also leads to where Balmacaan house once stood. This was at one time one of the biggest estates in the area, but has long since been demolished due to it being unsafe and little remains of the house. although you can still see some of the out buildings. Returning to the A82 further into the village you will come to the local post office.
There are several shops here including an art gallery, there is also a farm which you can visit. The centrepiece of the village is an arrangement of flowers, which depicts Castle Urquhart how it used to look. You will also find bed and breakfast accommodation.
As you cross the bridge, which is yet another fine example of Thomas Telford, you will become aware of a very sharp right hand turn; it is over this bridge that you will find the main Loch Ness attractions. The first is the Original Loch Ness Visitor Centre. Heading from Fort Augustus turn left onto the A831, then take the first exit on the right and you will in the centre. Here you will find a souvenir shop, where you can buy many things from clothes, jewellery to books and whisky. Also included in the shop is an exhibition and cinema show. This shows you about the enigma of Loch Ness and explains about “Nessie”. This is available in many languages; it also presents to you the facts and documentary evidence, l by the use of film, photos and descriptions of various expeditions and sightings over the years, including Operation Deepscan. Here you will find a Celtic craft shop, it is from here that you can book for a cruise across the Loch. While on your cruise you will be informed about all aspects of the Loch, and kept up to date about all the recent sightings. The boat is fully equipped with radio, colour sonar and G.P.S. and fully complies with The british Waterways safety standards. It also provides you with a fine opportunity to take an unusual photo of Castle Urquhart from the Loch. Back at the centre there are tearooms, where you can either sit inside or out, which serves a variety of both hot and cold meals and snacks. Here you can sit and contemplate where to go next. The hotel has full facilities. As a suggestion for those of you who are interested in ancient history then a small detour to the Corrimony Cairn is recommended. Take the left-hand turn as you cross Telfords bridge onto the A831 and follow it along until you arrive at Corrimony, and on your left you will see a chambered cairn and standing stones. A cairn is the site of a burial, which takes the form of a round mound of stones with a chamber in the middle. It was here that the body was placed and a shallow roof places on the top. although its very rare to find one with the roof still in place. Corrimony is without doubt the best preserved cairn in the area, and when excavated in 1932 the imprint of a body laid to rest in the crouched position thousands of years ago was found. You will also see a large cup shaped stone, which is believed to have been the capstone, which held the roof in place. There are also two standing stones that ring the cairn. These burial chambers were not used for the common people.
As you continue back on the A82 heading towards Inverness you pass a glassware shop and a small souvenir shop, as well as the bank which has a cash point machine. Just after this you will arrive at the Official Loch Ness Monster Centre, just prior to this you will find the Hunters bar and a whisky shop. Also in the complex you will find Hector Russells kilt makers shop. Here you can buy various Highland regalia. The Nessie shop is also situated here where you can buy anything to do with Nessie. You can also go into the Heritage centre to see if you can trace back your Scottish heritage. The centre holds a recently updated multimedia show about all aspects of the Loch and of course “Nessie” herself. The centre still funds work being done on the Loch by Adrian Shine. At the side of the centre is a small lochan containing a model of “ Nessie”, here you can take your picture at the side of the monster.
Leaving Drumnadrochit on the A82 heading for Inverness you will come across two large lay bys after approximately two miles (3kms). From the first an excellent view of Urquhart bay with the castle in background can be had, as well as a glorious view of the Loch. And in the second on most days during the summer you will find Murdo Urquhart a local highlander in full highland dress. He entertains coach parties and travellers with traditional tunes played on the pipes. He makes his living from donations. And he will be quite happy to pose for photos, or for your video cameras. He will also if asked tell you about his sighting of “Nessie”.
Carrying on down the A82 you will come the sign for the village of Abriachan. There is a pier at the hamlet of Abriachan. The most picturesque features here are a steep slope partially covered with trees and a stream that leaps down to the Loch by a series of steps. Close by there is an ancient burial ground containing covered stones and a rude font in which it is said that St Columba baptized the heathen Caledonians. Just past the signs for Abriachan there is a garden centre which specializes in herbs and heathers.
10 miles further on the A82 is Inverness the capitol of the highlands. There have been settlements in this area for at least 7000 years and has seen most of the tribes of the highlands from the Picts to the Caledonians to the Scots. It was also in this area that King brude (king of the northern picts) had his main bhold and St Columba converted both him and his whole tribe to Christianity. Inverness had also had several royal visitors as after the Battle of Bannockburn Robert the bruce held several a courts in the city. Most of the Stuart kings have visited here and Mary Queen of Scots had to find lodgings in the city after she was refused entry to the castle by the keeper. It was from here that Bonnie Prince Charlie led his beleaguered army to Culloden to face superior forces led by William Duke of Cumberland (the Butcher Cumberland) youngest son of George ll.
Inverness is virtually cut in two by the River Ness making its way from the Loch to the sea. The castle, which stands on a hill overlooking the town has stood on this site since the 18th century and the building that can be seen today was finished in 1834. The castle now houses the courts, jail and police station. You can now visit the tower, which holds a garrison tour, taking you back to the days when the red coats were housed here in 1746. It gives you a taste of what is like to be a soldier during the Jacobite Wars. The city also has a museum and art gallery, which has no admission, fees and has a history of the city including examples Stone Age artwork and wildlife of the area.Just below the museum you will find the tourist information office which also has a bureau de change.
As you walk round Inverness you will see many old buildings which now has plaques on informing you as to the dates they were built and historical facts. If you need more information then there is a bus which tours the town and covers its history. Inverness has many shops including a Victorian covered market, where you will find both craft and souvenirs shops. There are also many tartan and woollen shops. It is a city that brings together both the old and the new in a way that each one compliments the other.
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