A few weeks ago I wrote about a Scottish road trip my partner and I took in the Lotus one summer (click here for ‘The Lotus and Lochs’ – part one). As promised, I bring you the concluding part to that road trip in all its glory…
As we left Fort Augustus, we set about on our way to Loch Lomond. We continued following the Caledonian Canal all the way to Fort William. I have been to Fort William a couple of times in the past to climb Ben Nevis and on both occasions, I never saw the top of the mountain due to all the low lying cloud. Today was no exception and all I could see of the mountain was the grassy bits at its base! I’ve been told the views from the top are breath-taking but I am yet to witness them!
We continued onwards down the A82 passing through Glencoe and on to Loch Lomond. This section of road has got to be one of the best roads I have ever driven. I’ve done it a few times now, but this was the first time in a sports car. The road twists and turns through a valley with barren, rocky mountains sprawling up either side of you. The mountains are so close in parts that you strain your neck trying to catch a glimpse of the top of them. This (for me) could have been the best part of the holiday. Unfortunately for my partner, she missed all of these stunning views because she had managed to fall asleep (not for the first time) shortly after leaving Fort William.
I don’t know how she does it. The Lotus isn’t quiet. The Lotus isn’t comfortable either and I wasn’t driving very smoothly as I had caravans to overtake! I tried to wake her. I started by giving her a nudge and calling her name. Nothing. I shook her some more – not even a stir. Fearing that she would miss the best views of the holiday, I shouted and shook her again. I got a groan – at least this indicated to me that she was still alive. I decided to concentrate on the road again and enjoyed the views for the rest of the way. When we came to the end of the valley, she woke up and asked if she’d missed much. I told her to look over her shoulder. I felt like a gameshow host when they tell the losing contestants about all the lovely things that they could have won. “I don’t mind turning round and driving it again if you want to see it” I offered, half hoping she would say yes. Instead we kept going and stopped at The Big Green Welly Stop. It was a bit of a poor show so we went and got some food from the Tyndrum Inn instead.
We continued down to Loch Lomond and followed it all the way down to Balloch where we were staying for the night. We’d chosen a place on the main road called the Tullie Inn. It was pleasant enough, the rooms were big and they had Tunnocks Teacakes in the rooms! That evening we took a pleasant stroll around Balloch Castle and Country Park.
For the next day, we had planned a visit to see the Falkirk Wheel and The Kelpies – two things that inspire the engineer and the artist in me. Our first stop was the Falkirk Wheel. This is a feat of engineering which connects the Forth and Clyde canal and the Union canal. The wheel is a giant lift that can raise one canal boat whilst lowering another in half a revolution. I read somewhere that due to its design; it can do this using the same amount of energy it takes to boil a kettle. Amazing! There are plenty of things to do there – you can take a ride on the lift if you feel so inclined, go for a walk or a cycle, play on the science park or take in the rather sizeable café and gift-shop. We grabbed an ice-cream and went to play on the science park. All the activities in it involved transporting water from one place to another using either pedal-power, hydraulic pumps or, my personal favourite, Archimedes’ screw. Adults heavily outnumbered children here!
After getting our fill of all things canal related, we made the short trip down the road to visit the Kelpies. The Kelpies are two giant horse heads rising out of the ground at The Kelpies Hub turning pool (part of the Forth and Clyde Canal). They are made from stainless steel, stand at 30 metres tall and weigh an impressive 300 tonnes each. They are brilliant. We spent about an hour walking around them and posing for photos that look like we’re feeding them (as you do). Construction on a visitor centre was happening while we were there, so I will have to go back and check it out.
Alas, that was to be the end of our touristy road-trip around Scotland. I’m glad the Lotus gave us no trouble. That’s more than can be said for it at the minute. It’s currently sat in the garage with a flat battery and in need of a new head gasket as oil has started getting into the coolant. It’s off to the garage at the weekend so I’ll have to get some jump leads to get it started as I can’t be bothered jump starting it again. Lots of trouble, but thankfully it passed its MOT before Christmas. Just in time to be taxed, serviced and insured!