On the 29th September, the alarm went off very early in the morning. It was time to rise and shine and go on a trip to the Urquhart Castle, on the shore of Loch Ness. The trip was organised by the Erasmus Student Nework.
At 7 am everybody gathered at His Majesty’s Theater to get the bus which took everyone to the first stop: Urquhart Castle. A beautifully situated castle with a rich history. The ownership of the castle went back and forth between the Scots and English during the Wars of Independence. In 1692 it was destroyed in a fight between the Williamites and Jacobites, which resulted in the ruins that can be seen today. In 2003 it was gifted to the National Trust for Scotland.
The castle has a visitors centre including a café with Scottish treats, coffee and tea, as well as a souvenir shop, and an exhibition where more information about the castle could be found, including an introductory film.
The castle provided a magnificent view over Loch Ness. Loch Ness is famous for the Loch Ness Monster, also fondly known as Nessie. Reports of Nessie date back to 1933, but there was a report much earlier - in the year 565 when St. Columba is said to have spotted Nessie. St. Columba was a member of the Clan O’Donnell, and was of royal descent, originally from Ireland. He is known from the book ‘Life of Columba’ which was written by his successor Abbot Adomnán of Iona. After this, other people reported seeing Nessie, but there is not much photographic evidence, which makes people doubt its existence. However, search expeditions were organised to search for Nessie. The latest was organised by BBC Loch Ness Monster Search in 2003. BBC concluded that there is no such thing as the Loch Ness Monster living in the loch, as no evidence was found.
Next, the bus drove to the Loch Ness exhibition, where a multi-media presentation can be viewed, which takes the public through seven themed areas. Next to it are shops where souvenirs can be bought, likewise, there is a café to provide everyone with food and drinks.
After taking beautiful pictures of the Loch Ness and Urquhart castle, the bus headed to Inverness. Inverness is also referred to as the capital of the Highlands and dates back to 6th century AD. Another castle could be visited: Inverness Castle. It is said that St. Columba, mentioned above, visited the castle in the 6th century. After the castle had fallen to the Jacobites in the 18th century, a completely new castle was built at Ardersier and took the name Fort George. The original castle was rebuilt mid-nineteenth to house the Sheriff Courthouse and County Hall. The castle is still used as a court these days.
Finally, St. Andrews Cathedral was visited. The cathedral dates back to the 19th century when Bishop Robert Eden decided that the cathedral for the united Diocese should be in Inverness. In 1862 they started the excavation of the cathedral which is architected by Alexander Ross. The first stone was laid in 1866 by the Archbishop of Canterbury and three years later the cathedral opened its doors to the public. It is beautifully located across the River Ness.
This concluded the trip to Loch Ness & Inverness and the bus was directed towards Aberdeen again. Inverness can be visited via bus or train and is perfect for a day trip to explore Scotland and its history.