As we departed the village of Luss, the gloomy weather turned for the worse. Raindrops had begun hitting our windows, obstructing the views of the lakes and the villages surrounding them.
It was already pouring when we got into the vicinity of Inveraray, a town located by the edges of Loch Fyne. Inveraray Castle was the top destination of this stop, yet not many of our tour’s passengers were inclined to visit its interiors. Our family was simply not in the mood for another castle visit, after having just visited Edinburgh Castle the previous day and Buckingham Palace the previous week. To be fair, the castle’s architecture was one that easily came into mind when thinking of castles — four towers in each corner marked by steep conical roofs and a flag turret in the center. Its lawn was massive, as one would expect, and it was not difficult to imagine the opulence waiting inside.
Our guide then gave us the option to spend the time wandering around the town of Inveraray. Loch Fyne was also beautiful despite the unpleasant weather. I particularly loved staring at the pretty stone arch bridge towards the castle grounds. Much like Luss, in Inveraray, there was one main street where I’d presume most commercial activity took place. Its architecture was something not to miss: the buildings were all white, with the exception of the town hall and the historic jail at the end of the road. Whiskey stores, coffee houses and some bed and breakfasts occupied most of the establishments. It was also fascinating to see a branch of Royal Bank of Scotland in this little town, as our guide once said that in some parts of Scotland, banks just made roving visits once a month. Having walked the entire length of the street in the rain, we took refuge at a restaurant to warm our bodies and be fed. We later headed to the tourist information center to learn a little more about the town, pick up a refrigerator magnet and wait for our guide to pick us up.
Our next stop was yet another castle, Kilchurn Castle. I was really excited to see this building, well, more of ruins, because it looked so pretty in photos. However, our guide warned us that, given the rain pour, the path to the castle had become muddy. I wasn’t prepared to have my shoes become wet, because not only did I not bring another pair for this day tour, but I also didn’t have a change of shoes waiting for me back in Edinburgh. Only two people in our group ventured into going, while we were driven to St. Conan’s Kirk, a nearby church on the edges of Loch Awe.
Despite our number, I found the church to be eerily quiet in this secluded area. It was a small religious hall, but it was set in massive gardens. It even had a courtyard and, more impressively, a fantastic view of Loch Awe. Even on this foggy day, a view of the Kilchurn castle could be seen in the distance. Though little in size compared to grand cathedrals elsewhere in the United Kingdom, there was something surreal about standing in the middle of this church. The stone edifice perfectly matched the ruggedness of the Scottish mountains and the humble dwellings in villages, yet the various carvings and large windows showed a silent opulence only fitting for something divine. I was honestly positively surprised on visiting this place.
More on this day tour next time. Happy travels!