Editor’s note: Edward Garrett and his 20-something son Will just returned from a week’s sailing on the Scottish Highlander luxury barge. His son is reporting on the trip from his perspective in a separate blog on this site.
Third of three reports.
The Scottish Highlander offers a number of rather good excursions by minibus on a daily basis hosted by the ships very charming tour guide Loren.
Included on our cruise were beautiful Cawdor Castle immortalized in Shakespeare’s Macbeth, Urquhart Castle on the banks of Loch Ness, Invermoriston Falls, romantic Eilean Donan Castle (the setting for the film “The Highlander,”) the WW II Commando memorial, Neptune’s Staircase — the longest staircase lock in the UK, which lifts boats 64 feet, the woolen mills at Spean Bridge, the mystic battlefields of Glencoe and the Ben Nevis distillery.
There are also bicycles available on board for use between locks or to visit local villages, walks following the same routes or hikes up into the surrounding mountains.
Fort Augustus offers a charming heather laced golf course where sheep act as greens keepers, roaming the course at will. The grinning starter pointed out in his best brogue that sheep droppings could simply be kicked off the greens without the loss of a stroke! And by the way, getting out of the heather is much more difficult that the rough found on American courses.
The last evening of the cruise is a farewell Captains Dinner; men wear jackets if they have them. Our genial captain arrived for dinner in kilt (which we hoped he would do), and talked to us of his life in the Highlands. During cocktails we were serenaded by a local piper in full kilt for about half an hour. He joined us for a wee dram after.
One gains a new appreciation for bagpipes when you see them played in full kilt with the misty Scottish Highlands as a background.
In fact, one gains a new appreciation of the Scottish Highlands from the deck of the Scottish Highlander. It’s as good as it gets in this rough Highland countryside, and a truly unique experience.