Monday, October 03, 2016

Holiday to Inverness 2016: 26 - 27 September 2016

Brock had his morning walk at Culbin Forest on Monday. Culbin is a Forestry Commission plantation on sand dunes. There are dozens of tracks through the trees: some emerging onto the beach. I would recommend printing off a map from their website before starting out!

 A devil's coach horse beetle.

Pine trees growing on the dunes.

The ever-popular Findhorn Foundation was our next stop. It was incredibly busy and hard to park, even at this time of year. The cafe we had hoped to visit (La Boheme - found near the entrance to the site) was closed so we had to resort to the renamed 'Phoenix Cafe' further into the site. An attractive wooden building, with seating areas inside and out, but, as on our previous visit two years ago, the service was atrocious. There was a long queue; the till broke down; they ran out of coffee beans; no menus were available apart from one at the till point; there was a 30 mins + wait for the food to arrive (Rob had ordered a pie which simply needed to be put on a plate, and my choice was a jacket potato with cheese). So disappointing, when this could be such a nice cafe with some proper management and staff training. Until that happens, I would avoid it at all costs!

Afterwards we enjoyed looking at the lovely eco houses on the site. Here are a few of my favourites:-

There is a great wholefood and crafts shop on the site, which is well worth a visit. We stocked up on some food for the next day's breakfast: mushrooms, tomatoes, Quorn bacon and FR eggs.

Next, we headed to the village of Findhorn - another hard-to-park place. We headed to the Bakehouse for afternoon tea and cakes. This superb bakery has everything that the Phoenix has not: excellent food, friendly staff, and fast service. There are half a dozen homemade gluten free cakes to choose from: I had a cranberry slice that was delicious. Rob had a huge slice of pecan pie, and we sat outside enjoying the sunshine. Highly recommended!

Dinner that night was an Indian takeaway from Saffron in Inverness. The food was pretty good and they delivered to the door, which was a bonus. The price for two curries, two rice, poppadoms and a side dish was £26.50 (including delivery). A bit more than we would normally pay, but enjoyable.

On Tuesday we had a three mile walk at Glen Affric, taking in two of the trails at the unfortunately-named Dog Falls. The walk takes you past the water fall/gorge, through forest and around tiny Coire Loch. The pine forests, fungi and late flowering plants and bilberries were wonderful. It was surprisingly busy in the car park, but most people just go as far as the waterfall, so the longer trails are not too busy. It is very quiet, with a light wind in the trees being the only sound you can hear.

The Bothy at Fort Augustus was our lunchtime stop. It is dog-friendly, but service stops at around 2.30 pm, so we only just made it in time. Rob had veggie burger and chips. There were no GF vegetarian main courses, so I just had a mushroom/cheese starter without the bread, and a side of chips. With a tea and a mineral water, the bill came to £18.80. Despite the bad reviews it gets on Trip Advisor, we found the staff to be pleasant and welcoming. I probably would not return though, unless some GF veggie options were introduced.

Afterwards, we walked down to Loch Ness to see the tiny lighthouse, or 'unoccupied beacon' as it is less romantically referred to.

 Loch Ness in the background.

 The Caledonian Canal with five locks, seen from the bottom ...

... and the top.

A pretty town, but a bit too touristy for my taste. On a previous visit, we hired a boat and went out onto the loch - no sign of the Loch Ness Monster, though.
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