highlands
Inverness - Loch Ness

One summer our kids wanted to look for the Loch Ness Monster, so we took the train up to Inverness. Along with exploring Loch Ness, there's also the historic battlefield of Culloden where Bonnie Prince Charlie was trounced by the British, Cawdor Castle (shades of Macbeth), and dolphin watching on Moray Firth.

Loch Ness -
Loch Ness cruise- If you're going to do one thing in Inverness, it's take the kids on a boat ride (1, 2 or 3 hour cruises) down Loch Ness to look for Nessie. The legends of "Nessie" go back aways. The oldest legend, from 565 AD, concerns St.Columba. One of his disciples was swimming across the lake, when the monster rose up "with a great roar and open mouth." St. Columba commanded Nessie to drop the guy and the monster obeyed. Nessie may not put in an appearance, but you'll have a great afternoon cruising this lovely loch. For cruises: Loch Ness by Jacobite.
Urquhart Castle - On the edge of the Loch Ness sits the ruins of Urquhart castle. It hasn't crumbled all on its own - part of it was blown up in 1692. Don't be surprised if you hear a bagpiper piping tunes that evoke the ghosts of clans past - he's real. You can run up and down the grassy ruined rooms or just sit peacefully on the stone ramparts, watching the wind ruffle waves on Loch Ness.
Loch Ness Centre & Exhibition (Drumnadrochit) - In this fascinating multimedia exhibition, you'll hear about different legends of Nessie, and scientific research to get to the bottom of this mystery. This very long, very cold, deep lake has been studied by expeditions in small submarines and by sonar detection. The very geology of the lake sets the scene for legends of the very elusive creature, thought to be a dragon in ancient times, and more recently, a plesiosaur.
Inverness -
Walk along the River Ness - The River Ness is a wonderful spot for a stroll through town, with views of Inverness Castle on the hill. Next the river, there's a small cemetary, Chapel Street Cemetary, with old gravestones and interesting inscriptions.
Dolphin watching on Moray Firth - From the Inverness Marina, pick up a cruise along the Moray Firth to look for bottle nosed dolphins. Along with dolphins, you'll see seals, porpoises, and sea birds such as osprey and terns.

Around Inverness
Fun food
If your kids like salmon, we had the best Scotch smoked salmon, for lunch, for tea, for dinner. Also, shortbreads, scones and other pastries are delicious. Also, when you see it on the menu, try the Clootie Dumpling pudding. It's "sort of like a sponge pudding with raisins and currants in it. You mix all the ingredients in a batter, put them in a cloth (cloot) and steam the whole thing. When it's done, you slice it, and eat it with hot custard."
Shopping -
Lots of fun things to buy, including the ever popular tam o'shanter in various plaids, silvery jewelry, clan insignia, sweaters, and various bright green Nessies.

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