My inspiration to go to Scotland came from a few different things. Firstly, the classic Blockbuster movie Braveheart that I first watched in the 90’s, which ignited some curiosity around the bloody history. Then my seemingly natural and instantaneous connection with a couple Scottish friends of mine (Fallon & Louise ;)). Lastly and most importantly, my roots on both sides of my family are predominantly from Scottish lineage, which inevitably heightened my calling to go there.
While Jack and I only had a few days to explore Scotland, we were able to get a good sense and understanding of the rich culture, history, landscapes and Scottish hospitality. From the beautiful city of Edinburgh to the Highlands, Loch Ness and coastline, we covered a lot of ground over 3 days. We hope to spend more time there in the future, but for now, here is a list of our highlights.
Stirling and Surrounding Region
It’s a city in central Scotland, most famous for the Medieval Castle and Monument of Sir William Wallace (Mel Gibson in Braveheart). We really enjoyed walking around the old town center, castle and cemetery that overlooks a valley of grasslands. Like William Wordsworth wrote, ‘We know of no sweeter cemetery in all of our wanderings than that of Stirling.’ There was an eerie essence in the air, enabling you to easily imagine one of the many bloody battles fought on those grounds during the Wars of Scottish Independence. After soaking up some history, just a short drive away is ‘Deanston Whisky Distillery’ good for lightening up the mood. Here you can get a tour and tasting of authentic Scotch Whiskey, which is pretty impressive.
Glencoe, Loch Ness and Pitlochry
So begins the stunningly beautiful Highland Region of deep valleys, towering mountains and lochs (lakes). Stop at Glencoe for some epic scenery and a history lesson on the infamous massacre that took place in 1692. Heading further North, is one of the deepest lakes in the world and ‘home’ to the mythical creature – Loch Ness Monster. Here you can take a boat ride around the Loch and listen to some humorous commentary about the mysterious monster. Then, we ventured to Pitlochry, a quintessential Victorian town approx 85 miles south of Inverness. Queen Victoria herself loved this little town for its charm and beauty.
Loch Lomond and Trossachs National Park
Driving through Loch Lomond and Trossachs National Park was one of the best things we did on the whole trip. Imagine lush Forests of pine, oak and birch trees, hugging a large body of teal water, surrounded by snow dusted mountains. It’s clean, crisp and every nature lovers dream. At dusk, the sky is painted with variations of pink and orange and at night the stars are endless. There are several hikes of various levels available as well. Plus, if you’re looking for a true local experience, head to the ‘The Drovers Inn’ – A 300 y/o hotel and pub with true locals, live music and Haggis (the national dish of Scotland).
St Andrews and Edinburgh
For a bit of salty sea air, visit the coastal town of St. Andrews. We were a bit unlucky with the weather, but the town itself is very cute and has a scenic golf course, castle and ruins along the water front. There’s a great family run fish & chip shop called ‘Tailend Restaurant.’ Then, we finished the trip where we started off in Edinburgh. While we didn’t get a chance to explore much of the city, I can highly recommend staying at ‘The Inn Place’ as it was in a great location in the heart of old town and very comfortable. Additionally, I can recommend ‘Ness Bus Tour’ which leave/return from Edinburgh. If you have more than a few days, I wouldn’t suggest this as it is very rushed (car rental would be better). But for people who are tight for time, the bus trip is a great solution.
Ultimately, Scotland is a very interesting place to visit, loaded with historical monuments, charming towns and stunningly beautiful landscapes. Next time, we hope to discover more of Edinburgh and go even further North into the Highlands.
Thanks for reading!
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Travel Tips / Highlights – Portugal
Amazing! I know nothing about traveling all over the country, what a wonderful looking place to explore.