HAL Zuiderdam 12-Day Fjords and Highlands Cruise Day 9
Thursday May 25, 2017 -- Invergordon, Scotland (8:00~5:00)
Weather: sunny (19~64F)
Invergordon is the port for Inverness, the capital of the Highlands. The northern part of Scotland, known as the Highlands, is one of the most scenic places in Europe as we have found out in the last couple of days. I suppose the main attractions in this area are Loch Ness and Inverness Castle besides the landscape of mountains and forested hills.
We really had no plans for this port because I wasn't sure what we could do. I know being so close to Loch Ness, we should go there for a visit, but with a group of 9, it was quite difficult to get a van for a private tour. My thinking was to just try to get to Inverness and at least we could walk around town for the day. It turned out that we had a wonderful, relaxing day walking around Inverness and taking a boat trip on Loch Ness.
Getting closer to Invergordon.
Zuiderdam docked at Admiralty Pier around 7:46.
When we got off the ship at 9:00, this bag-piper was there greeting us.
Admiralty Pier, Invergordon
This is a simple pier very close to town.
With no tours planned, I wanted to see what's available in port as far as transportation goes. There were a couple of choices here. A taxi stand was set up right at the pier gate that offered tours with various time frame in different size vehicles. The problem with us was that we had nine people and they did not have any cars/vans that will fit all of us. Across the street from the pier was a trailer that offered bus tours. It looked like that they had different bus tours for 35 or 40 GBP per person which could be a good option. After briefly discussed about the options, we decided that we will just take the 25X bus up the street into Inverness and explore the city on our own.
With information and maps in hand, we found the 25X bus on High Street, just one block up. A big blue Mega Bus was waiting at the curb side. (I believe they use Mega Bus and regular city bus alternatively.) We got on, paid our return fares and the bus left immediately.
While on the bus, I looked through the brochures that they handed out at the pier and saw an ad for a tour that would include a one-hour HOHO bus ride to and from the dock and then a 2-hour boat ride on Loch Ness for 25 GBP per person (seniors 22.) It's called the Loch Ness Cruise and Inverness Sightseeing Tour 'Contemplation' by Lochness by Jacobite. After discussing with everybody in the group, we decided that was what we should do. Apparently there are several different tours being offered but we found that this one fit our schedule exactly.
Tour ad found inside the brochure.
On the 25X bus.
It was a nice bus ride with beautiful scenery of the nearby towns and villages.
After we got off the 25X bus at the Inverness Bus Station, we went straight inside and found the ticket counter for the tours. Tickets purchased and we were told where to pick up the HOHO bus at 10:30 when the tour begins. Then we were off to see the city on our own. Since the Bus Station is right in the center of town, it was just an easy walk down to the river for most major sights.
Church on Fraser Street and Church Street
This should be Church Street with the Steeple at the far end.
River Ness at Bank Street
St. Mary's Catholic Church on the other side of the river.
We crossed the river on the footbridge to the other side.
Looking back at the Free Church of Scotland. I think the one of the left is the Old High Church.
We just followed the street along the river side towards St. Andrew's Cathedral. Here is Ness Walk and Ness Bridge.
Hotels by the river.
A good view of Inverness Castle up on the hill.
I believe it is a court house now and is not opened to the public.
St. Andrew's Cathedral
Ness Walk and River Ness
Seeing that it was about time to board the bus, we walked back to the bus station. A bag-piper on High Street.
We got on the HOHO bus at 10:30 leaving the Bus Station (stop #5) for Dochgarroch Lock (stop #10).
On the top deck.
Arrived at the Dochgarroch Lock stop to take the 11:30 boat trip.
Better get to the restrooms first. Actually there are toilets on the boat.
Cruising Loch Ness
Off we go!
On the top deck of the boat.
Out of Loch Dochfour
A gentleman was our on board commentator. He was very good in explaining all the facts and history of the area and he even sang a few Scottish songs for us.
Urquhart Castle site
Most people would be on a bus/walking tour to the castle.
Great if you want to climb the castle.
For us it was nice just to relax and see the castle from the boat.
After two hours on the boat, we came back to Dochgarroch Lock at 1:30 to take the HOHO bus back to the city. It worked like a clock with not much time wasted.
A picture of Inverness Castle from the bus. All the photos I took on the bus were fussy because we were sitting inside this time.
We could have gotten off and on at any of the stops on our way back but we were watching the time. By the time we got back to the bus station, two fully-loaded 25X buses were leaving to go back to Invergordon. This time we were on the regular city bus with many local passengers. Students getting out of school and women done shopping in the city. It was kind of nice to see how people going on their daily lives in this part of the world. And they made sure we got off at the right stop when we reached Invergordon.
There is a souvenir shop right at the entrance but none of us wanted to shop by then.
Back to the ship for a late lunch.
There was a special show by locals in the afternoon with Scottish songs and dance in the theater.
Saying 'goodbye' to Invergordon as our ship left port at 5:00.
Lobster night in the main dining room and I had two lobster tails. Yum!
We certainly had a marvelous day here and were all happy that we got to see Loch Ness.
The only regret that I had was not going into Victoria Market in Inverness for a look. Some day, some day...