Invergordon (Inverness), Scotland, United Kingdom
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Approximately 8 Hours
Today's excursion will introduce you to Scotland's famous Loch Ness and two of the country's most romantic medieval castles -- one in ruins, the other an opulent-but-homey residence.
Traveling southwest from Invergordon, the coach skirts the banks of the beautiful Cromarty Firth, then drives through Muir of Ord and past the town of Beauly. Keep your eyes peeled for a glimpse of its atmospheric ruined abbey.
Descending a steep hill, you will see the splendid Loch Ness -- Britain's deepest freshwater lake -- whose murky depths inspire lurid tales of fantastical creatures. Not the least of these is the fabled Loch Ness Monster. Her real name is Nessie, but you can call her 'the wee beastie,' as the locals do.
Stop at the 14th-century Urquhart Castle, situated right on the edge of the loch. This is one of the most picturesque areas in Scotland and boasts a state-of-the-art Visitor Center. Don't miss the captivating audiovisual that brilliantly brings to life the castle's dark and dangerous history, with an ending that leaves many visitors gasping in astonishment.
Head to Inverness, capital of the Highlands. A city tour introduces you to some of the historic sites, such as the Gothic-style Town House and Tolbooth Steeple, as well as the pretty, tree-lined River Ness.
After you've enjoyed lunch at a local hotel, the coach ride turns inland through a landscape of alternating open countryside and quiet woodland. You'll drive past Culloden Moor -- perhaps Scotland's most famous battlefield. This eerie, windswept stretch of land is the site of the last battle on Scottish soil -- a turning point in the nation's history and the beginning of the end for the clan way of life in Scotland.
Next, you will head to the conservation village of Cawdor and the impressive Cawdor Castle -- a truly beautiful, traditional medieval castle with exceptionally lovely gardens.
At the conclusion of your visit, return to Invergordon and the ship.
Flash photography is not allowed inside Cawdor Castle. Large bags cannot be carried inside. Wear comfortable walking shoes.