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Location - Western Europe; Capital - Scotland - Edinburgh; Population - Scotland - 5.2 million; Currency - Pound Sterling MORE UK - SCOTLAND

I couldn't resist the Caledonian Sleeper from London to Inverness, a sleeper train being a novelty in the UK, complete with its own bar-restaurant carriage - April 2016.


ScotlandnoteScottish banks issue their own versions of the Pound - this is the Bank of Scotland's










scotland161After arriving in Inverness I continued by bus via Wick to the far north-east of Scotland at John O'Groats. It's the traditional start of charity walks and bike rides spanning the extremities of mainland Britain, from John O'Groats in north east Scotland to Land's End in south west England (aka LE JOG). Only 874 miles to go!


scotland166The John O'Groats ferry is a summer ferry to the Orkney Islands, seen in the distance above - John O'Groats


scotland169The colourful Inn at John O'Groats boasts luxury accommodation - John O'Groats














scotland167The tiny hamlet is a 3 hour bus ride from Inverness - John O'Groats















scotland180A dog owner braves the wind, hail and rain for some exercise on the sands of Dunnett Beach


scotland179John O'Groats may take the glory but the most north-easterly point of mainland Britain is actually a couple of kms further east at Duncansby Head. And the most northerly point is Dunnett Head, the peninsular shown here as seen from Dunnett Beach


scotland185A lighthouse stands lonely at Dunnett Head, the most northerly point of the British mainland














scotland200Across the North Sea is the island of Hoy, one of the Orkney Islands - Dunnett Head















scotland202The rock protrusion rising in the middle of the photo is the 137m sea stack known as the Old Man of Hoy - Orkney Islands


scotland193A very dark sky closes in on Dunnett Head, where you can also see a few ruined World War II fortifications


scotland222I spent my first night in Scotland further west at the coastal town of Thurso, which boasts an attractive sweep of sand














scotland209The 12th/13th century Old St Peter's Church - Thurso














scotland232Oil rigs dot the north east coast offshore - Thurso to Dunbeath


scotland248The drive from Thurso to Dunbeath is a lovely one - expansive, sparse, bleak and mountainous


scotland275A snow-capped mountain backdrop above the Ness River - Inverness














scotland286 The River Ness flows through Inverness, with Inverness Castle on the left














scotland295The 19th century Inverness Castle (no public access) - Inverness


scotland296On the banks fo the river is the 19th century St Andrews Cathedral - Inverness














scotland291Keep walking south along the river, past the castle, to the Ness Islands - Inverness














scotland299Fishing in the River Ness - Inverness


scotland308The Ness Islands are a collection of islands in the Ness River linked by pedestrian bridges - Inverness


scotland300It's a lovely, tranquil area only 20minutes walk from the city centre - Inverness















scotland315Greig Street Bridge crosses the River Ness, with the Old High Church on the left and the Free Church of Scotland on the right - Inverness













ekonoteThe Eko is a community-based currency based at Findhorn Bay, a 45min drive north east of Inverness



A second class cabin on the Caledonian Sleeper from London to Edinburgh, where it then splits to three destinations - Aberdeeen, Inverness and Fort William. On the right is the bar-restaurant carriage. Evening meals and a cooked breakfast are available - London to Inverness


scotland351Found him! Easy really.. Drumnadrochit is the heart of Loch Ness tourist activity, though strangely it's set back from the lake so there's no view of it from the village












scotland356Outside the Loch Ness Centre is a submarine from a 1960s research expedition. Many have tried and failed (or hoaxed) to track down the elusive Loch Ness Monster - Drumnadrochit, Loch Ness













scotland354So bad it's good! Nessie that is, as the monster is affectionately called. But this rival exhibition inside Celtic Crafts is informative - Drumnadrochit, Loch Ness


scotland319Just 2km from Drumnadrochit is Urquhart Castle, which has a perfect location overlooking Loch Ness














scotland326Onw of many cruise boats on Loch Ness, the largest lake (by volume) in Scotland and the UK - Urquhart Castle














scotland340The ruins of Urquhart Castle date back to the 13th to 16th centuries - Loch Ness


scotland348The first photographic 'evidence' of Nessie was in 1933, and there's been plenty more since - Urquhart Castle, Loch Ness


scotland361The bus ride from Inverness to Skye is chock-full of superb scenery














scotland364It was a weirdly snowy late-April so the number of snow-capped mountains was high in May; a definite bonus - Inverness to Skye














scotland402A must see on the road to Skye is Eilean Donan Castle


scotland394It has a fantastic location between Loch Alsh and Loch Duich on the west coast - Eilean Donan Castle


scotland372It was originally built in the 13th century but destroyed in 1719. The current building dates to the 19th century - Eilean Donan Castle














scotland420The grounds of the castle, which is linked to the mainland by a causeway - Eilean Donan Castle













scotland366The closest village to the castle is Dornie which has a couple of hotels and restaurants. If you're trying to book bus tickets online to Eilean Donan just put Dornie as your destination - it's less then five minutes walk away but they can drop you right outside the castle


scotland423Kyle of Lochalsh is the gateway to the Isle of Skye via the Skye Bridge, seen here in the distance to the left of the coastal buildings













scotland425A glorious view as the bus straddles the Skye Bridge, opened in 1995 as a link to the Scottish mainland


scotland429The drive northwards to Portree - Skye


scotland433Portree, Skye is the island's main settlement. Correct me if I'm wrong but I think the rock-pillar rising below the mountain is the Old Man of Storr













scotland436 The pretty harbour of Portree, Skye















scotland440There's hotels, restaurants and a pub in this colourful area - Portree, Skye


scotland448Walking down the hill to the harbour - Portree, Skye


scotland449Straight ahead, beyond the bay, is the Isle of Raasay - Portree, Skye















scotland455A rainbow welcomes the sunshine - Portree, Skye














scotland462The view from behind the youth hostel - Portree, Skye


scotland482First up on a day tour of the island was the Old Man of Storr on the Trotternish peninsula - Old Man of Storr, Skye













scotland476 An hour's trek rewards you with lovely views of the islands of Rona and Raasay, and the Scottish mainland on a clear day! Old Man of Storr, Skye














scotland488The last section is the steepest and slippiest - Old Man of Storr, Skye


scotland500We carried on north to Kilt Rock, a 60m waterfall - Skye

















scotland496The coast next to Kilt Rock, Skye














scotland508Heading inland but still on the Trotternish peninsula, magnificent scenery follows at The Quiraing, Skye. Scenes from Harry Potter, The Wicker Man and Prometheus were filmed here


scotland519I can't remember exactly where these sea stacks are but they're below the relic of a World War II hilltop lookout, somewhere around Trotternish - Skye


scotland523Trotternish is known for dinosaur fossils and these depressions in the rock are said to be dinosaur footprints. Plus someone's foot on the right for scale - Skye














scotland526The Skye Museum of Island Life hosts a collection of thatched cottages and croft houses typical of yesteryear - Skye














scotland532There's plenty of waterfalls on the island; this one dwarfs the crane in the top left - Skye


scotland536The final stop at Trotternish was the Fairy Glen, a series of conical rock formations and other-worldly rock shapes - Skye


scotland542None of us were sure of the significance of these stone circles. Ideas welcome! Skye














scotland431on the return to Portree we pass Sligachan, an east coast hamlet on the edge of Loch Sligachan - Skye














scotland551The following day I took another day-tour but the weather was awful. This was my best effort of capturing the outline of the Cuillin Hills, Skye


scotland555The Fairy Pools are a series of turquoise pools set below the Cuillin Hills, where legend has it the fairies come to bathe - Skye


scotland561Of course Scotland is famous for whisky and naturally Skye has its very own single malt, the peaty-tasting Talisker, made at the Talisker Distillery in Carbost, Skye














scotland563After I'd spent half an hour drying the contents of my bag under a hand dryer in the toilets, it was off to Dunvegan Castle, Skye


scotland571The castle has been home to the chief of the Clan MacLeod for centuries. One of the exhibits is the Fairy Flag of Dunvegan, an ancient piece of fabric dating between 4th and 7th century and the symbol of the MacLeods - Skye


scotland572And you can't have a castle without a waterfall in the gardens - Skye
















Neist Point is the westernmost point of Skye and leads to a lighthouse. Apparently it's a good place to spot whales and dolphins but we couldn't even see the lighthouse! On the right I stand one foot in front of the other just so I don't fall over in the gales - Skye



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LINKS - Scotland tourist board - public transport info for Scotland - official guide to Skye - Britain's official tourism website - train information across Britain - National Express coaches cover Britain


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