We checked out two Highland games, one in Blackfort and the other at Blair Castle. Manly men in kilts doing manly things like throwing cabers and hammers, lots of bagpipers and beautiful dancing by ladies in plaid.
We stayed at Cull-An-Daraich Guesthouse Owned by Rachel Knight and her husband. The guest house is an old poor farm which was converted to a really nice bed and breakfast. Great wheelchair access, plenty of grab bars in bathroom, roll in shower, nice bath bench, plenty of space around beds and beds at level easy to transfer. Good parking too.
We made sure to go by the Falkirk wheel which is really an incredible engineering feat. It raises canal boats up 37 m instead of using the old lock system that has numerous locks that took eight hours instead of the one and a half hour that the Falkirk wheel takes. It works on Archimedes principle of water displacement. We rode the canal boat through the Falkirk wheel and learned about the canal system that goes from sea to sea across Scotland and then another one that goes from the mines to Edinburgh. The north-south and the east-west canals connect via the Falkirk wheel. Scotland renovated the canals about 20 years ago which has revamped a lot of economy in the area plus provided the added bonus of tourism. Very cool.
Nearby are the Kelpies which are giant sculptures of horse heads. Clydesdales were used to pull canal boats across Scotland and the Kelpies are in honor of those Clydesdales.
We came back to Edinburgh ready to catch our flights home. We stayed at the Brooks hotel which has terrible wheelchair access in the bathroom. Zero grab bars around the toilet and zero grab bars in the shower. The bath bench is a plastic thing I hope will not collapse! The rest of the hotel room is great so I will make recommendations to them. It would not take much to make these desperately needed accessibility improvements.
Our first sight was visiting Clava Cairns. It’s about 4000 years old and are piles of stones that or memorials/burial areas from millennia ago. It was doable in a wheelchair even when there were mud puddles. Then we went to Culloden Battlefield and Museum. This was very nicely wheelchair accessible. I really liked the audio tour and the battlefield itself was really interesting. I did about a third of it in my manual chair and freewheel then came back and transferred into a mobility scooter which was loaned out for free. I did the rest in that so I was able to see the entire thing pretty easily. Many long packed dirt trails. Many Stone Memorial for clans of Highlanders that fought the battle and just a lot of interesting historical information. There was a ramp that took me to a viewing platform to get a great view of the overall battlefield.
We wandered around the streets of Inverness and later went to Fort George. Fort George is huge. I wheeled across the drawbridge over what used to be the moat and through a big open field with housing on the opposite side. The fort has a few museums including the Highlander museum as part of the giant fort. It was built about 20 years after the battle of Culloden.
Our second day we went to the oldest church in Inverness (which by the way means “mouth of Ness” as in mouth of the Ness river that flows from Loch Ness to the sea). After Culloden battle, the prisoners were kept in the tower of that church and then later executed in the adjacent cemetery. We were able to go inside the church as well.
Cawdor Castle, about 13 miles from Inverness, is very nice. About three of the rooms inside of the castle are wheelchair accessible and both the old garden and new garden are wheelchair accessible and very beautiful.
We stayed at Aldross Glencairns hotel. Room is pretty good but the roll in shower has extra little doors that are cumbersome for wheelchairs. They do keep the water from getting all over the floor thuough. I think it’s a pretty good room altogether.
We left Glencoe and traveled further north for a couple hours to where we caught the ferry from Mallaig to Armadal on the isle of Skye. We just happened to show up at the right time and had only a 15 minute wait to do the half hour crossing. They were able to accommodate the wheelchair by letting us take up two spots by parking diagonally. Our ferry passage was 13 pounds instead of 20 pounds when I showed them my disabled parking tag. The ferry had clean accessible restrooms.
The isle is beautiful! We drove the Trotternesh Peninsula, avoiding the many sheep and lambs meandering into the road. Spectacular scenery surrounded us—green mountains, grey cliffs and blue sea.
Town of Portree
Glasgow to Glencoe
We drove 2 1/2 hours from Glasgow to Glencoe along the winding, loch-lined road, passing Loch Lomond, Loch Leven and stopping off for lunch at Green Welly for some incredibly delicious Cullen skink, a soup made with smoked haddock, onions and potatos. We stayed at Loch Leven hotel and distillery. It was an old farm that was retrofitted to be a bed-and-breakfast. They did a good job of making it wheelchair accessible. Some entries were tight but it was really all together good. The views of the Loch were lovely and their full Scottish breakfast was delicious and was included in the stay. We didn’t stay long in Glencoe and if I had had time, I would’ve liked to see the folk museum there. But we had plans to head to the Isle of Skye so had to move on.
We drove from Hexham about 2 1/2 hours to Glasgow. We will only be in Glasgow one day. Big city, lots of choices in hotels and restaurants. It seems I hear one live music venue after another just driving through downtown – love it! We stopped by the Riverside museum which was nicely wheelchair accessible. Lots of displays of transportation pieces like old street cars, bicycles, horse and carriages as well as the tall ship docked outside in the Clyde River.
The Holiday Inn Express city center is where we are staying and is really a nice room with roll in shower and bath bench, lots of grab bars, plenty of room around the bed. Tomorrow we will get up early and head to Glencoe in the isle of Skye!
Vindolanda Roman ruins— archaeological dig (more…)