On Monday, Trefoil Guild Members from across the country travelled up to Newtonmore in the Scottish Highlands for the start of our tour. Travelling by air, rail and coach, we all arrived safely despite the odd delay, and settled into our hotels. The Balavil and The Highlander hotels are in the centre of Newtonmore, set right in the heart of the Highlands.
Eager to get out to explore our surroundings, we set off yesterday morning on a scenic drive through the hills, headed for Loch Ness. There we enjoyed a cruise of the loch, learning about the boat’s sonar system and of course keeping our eyes peeled for the monster! Unfortunately although extra Brownie points were on offer for the first to spot Nessie, we didn’t have much luck.
After a wander round Fort Augustus and a chance for a bite to eat we drove back down the valley, stopping at the Commando Memorial en route. The memorial commemorates the service and sacrifice given by thousands of Allied troops during WWII, and it is placed here as this area of the highlands was where they trained, with Ben Nevis one side and Loch Lochy the other.
We also stopped for a spot of retail therapy and an afternoon cuppa at the Woollen Mill in Spean Bridge.
On arrival back in Newtonmore we visited the Highland Folk Museum to discover life as it was here in the 1930s-40s, with an old school building, croft and farmstead. Many of us practised our handwriting for the teacher to mark; one of the group was told he lacked concentration!
It was a pretty jam-packed day so we were all ready for dinner when it arrived, and the rest of the evening was spent singing along to Scottish songs led by an accordion player.
This morning is particularly stunning, with sun reflecting off the lochs as we drive past. As I write we have just passed Loch Laggan, which offers magnificent views down to the mountains beyond. We are on our way to FortWilliam and the start of the Jacobite Railway out to Mallaig. Everyone seems to be looking forward to it; I’ll tell you all about it later!