I have wanted to visit Scotland again since I first went over ten years ago, so I decided to just get on with it, and organise a trip up for a week. I was very lucky to have good, dry weather while I was there, even though I anticipated rain and I immediately fell in love the moment I drove over the border. These are just some of the highlights of my trip, but expect to see a few more Scotland blogs on here in the coming weeks!
Loch Ness and Inverness were just part of the reasons I wanted to go to Scotland (read about my other reasons here), and I managed to make a day of it and stopped at Inverness for a couple of hours before making my way along to Loch Ness, stopping at Drumnadrochit and Urquhart Castle. Thankfully, I went on a beautiful day with blue skies dotted with white clouds and high temperatures of 17-18 degrees. There was no monster in sight, though it was interesting to read about how stories of Nessie came about. I didn’t have time to go into Urquhart Castle, but I highly recommend stopping there to see the views. As it protrudes out into the loch, you can see a lot more of it.
Calton Hill, Edinburgh
My first stop in Scotland was Edinburgh, and it was just as remembered; bagpipes every few metres (slight exaggeration), lots of tourists and tartan in every shop. It was nice to wander about, stop at a café for a pot of tea and cake and soak up the culture. Later in the day, I made my way up to Calton Hill, and from there I had a view of the whole city. Despite a bit of rain and grey clouds, the view was amazing. I could see the Firth of Forth, Balmoral Hotel, Edinburgh Castle and Edinburgh Old Town. I would love to go back (hopefully in better weather!) to spot some more landmarks.
Highland Tourist Route
Driving up from North Devon to Scotland was exhausting but having my car gave me the freedom to just go for a drive. I also got to see some incredible scenery; I drove along the Old Military Road, and onto the Highland Tourist Route, which is one of the most scenic routes in Scotland. A picture hardly does it justice, as seeing the clouds come down over the mountains, which stretched on for miles or watching the sunset that cast everything in shadow, was breath-taking. And the best part was not the steep descents into valleys followed by the steep climb up, but the fact there were so few cars on the road with me. This meant I could pull into passing bays or little spots on the side of the road and take a few minutes to just take it all in.
One of the things I wanted to do in Scotland was see a red squirrel, and I was lucky enough to spot one after only a couple days, staring right at me from a tree. I did see more – one even ran in front of my car (I was going slow and did not hit it!) and they were not the only animals I saw. I managed to see a few buzzards wheeling about above the River Dee near Braemar, some pochard ducks and even deer. That was a truly wonderful moment! I have seen deer at country parks, but to come across a red deer doe and fawn in the wild was amazing. I startled them as I was walking, so they moved a little further into the bushes and trees. From their safer spot, I watched them watch me for a few minutes before leaving them to it.
I am not much of a walker, but I knew I could handle walking the circuit of Loch Muick, a distance of around eight miles. It was an incredible place, and the path was marked, so easy to navigate for a novice like me. I met hardly anyone else on my route too, which added to the loch’s appeal. Along the way I came across several streams with roaring waterfalls running down from the mountain to the loch and among some Scots pine trees, there was a lodge Queen Victoria had built in 1868 called Glas-Allt-Shiel. It was rather windy the day I went; I was nearly blown over by a large gust of wind when making my way across the shore at one end.
Have you ever been to Scotland? What were your favourite places? Let me know in the comments or over my social media channels!