Europe 2007 Day 11 – Blackpool to Inverness

Time to hit the road again. After another interesting English Breakfast (this time with haggis!), we headed out of town towards Inverness. It is a 350 plus mile road trip, but thanks to the plush interior of our Mercedes B150, we were ready for the challenge. Of course it wouldn’t be a day on the road without taking the wrong exit on a roundabout and ending up in the middle of nowhere. We did manage to find a gas station where we filled up for only 44 pounds. For those of you keeping score that is 90 dollars per tank of gas! The good news is that our B150 gets 35 miles to the gallon so we can go almost 400 miles on a tank of gas. Since I prepaid for a cheap tank of gas, I figure I probably have to fill it up two more times.

After driving through the rural countryside for about 25 miles, we came upon the M6 expressway and proceeded to head north for Scotland. I challenged Daniel to find us something interesting to stop at along the way. I had suggested a castle I had seen in one of our guides, but Daniel discovered that the actual castle was closed in November so he continued searching. Travel today on the expressway was pretty good no major queues (as they call traffic). We stopped at a few service stops again and then Daniel came up with a good diversion to break up the trip. He came up with Stirling Castle. I did not know what it was, but the picture of the castle on the cliff was enough for me to want to go. As an added bonus, it was right off of the motorway.

Turns out Stirling Castle was home to the Scottish monarch James V as well as Mary Queen of Scots. When James VI became king, they moved the seat of power to London and Stirling declined in importance. It is a fantastic castle with some great views of the surrounding land as well as the Wallace Monument perched on a nearby mountain. We spent about an hour wandering around the castle before getting back on the road. With only one mistake getting to the motorway we were well on our way.

The surrounding countryside is very beautiful, and I think I could take a whole week just wandering around. Before long it got dark, very dark. Up in the Scottish Highlands there are not very many cities and the A9 turns into a two land highway. Just like highways at home, we got stuck behind lorries and at times it seemed like we were going to be on the road forever.

After 7 hours we finally crested over the hills and swooped down into Inverness. We managed to find a gas station to fill up (another 90 bucks please) and get some directions to our hotel. Turns out it is a historic hotel on the waterfront of the River Ness, just opposite Inverness Castle.

Exhausted from our trip, valet parked the car and then we checked in to our room. We walked into the town center for a quick bite to eat and then came back to rest up. Tomorrow it is the Gorn meets Nessie. I looked up on the net where they filed Monty Python and the Holy Grail (the castle in the lake) and perhaps if we feel frisky, we will drive the 90 miles to the other side of Scotland to see it. Otherwise it is off to Loch Ness and whatever else we can find.