Full disclosure, I fell hard for Scotland. We covered a lot of ground in the eight days we spent in there so this will be an extra long post.
We took the train from London to Edinburgh and had an evening and one full day to explore Edinburgh. Grant had been to Scotland in high school for a pipe band competition. Both his parents are also from Scotland. He took the lead showing me around Edinburgh. We took a super touristy double-decker bus tour of the city but we were able to cover the main sightseeing spots in the least amount of time that way. We walked High Street and through the Princes Street Gardens. I loved how much darker Edinburgh is compared to London. The older buildings in London have been cleaned but the Edinburgh is still soot covered. I loved it.
On Monday we started a week long tour with Highland Explorer. Grant and I really loved the tour and although it was a busy week, we're both glad we got to see so much of the country in those seven days. Our first stop was Stirling. We stopped at the Wallace Monument and then made our way to Glencoe. I would have liked to have stopped at Stirling Castle as well but if we stopped at every castle in Scotland we would not have gotten very far. Glen Coe is a beautiful and breathtaking and with a strife history. Of course there was a piper playing when we stopped for photos, only adding to the dramatic landscape. We also stopped at Doune Castle (used in filming Monty Python, Game of Thrones, and Outlander), Castle Stalker, King's House Hotel (nearly tame deer!), Callander, and the Glen Coe visitor's centre. We stayed in Oban for the night, a beautiful seaside town with some fine distilleries and McCaig's Tower (reminiscent of a Roman coliseum).
On Tuesday morning we made our way to Fort William where we boarded the Jacobite steam train to Mallaig. As huge Harry Potter fans, it was a thrill to take the "Hogwart's Train" over the Glenfinnan viaduct. We stopped in Mallaig for some lunch before taking a ferry over to Isle of Skye. Our first stop on Skye was the Clan Donald Centre which has a museum, gorgeous gardens and grounds, and of course, a castle. From there we made our way Portree, where we spent the night.
On Wednesday we made our way north to Staffin and then east toward Uig. We climbed through a small mountain range but it wasn't certainly high enough that I felt very uncomfortable. I requested that we stop at the Fairy Glen and it was definitely worth the trip. From there we made our way all the way back down to the south to cross the bridge back to the mainland at Kyle of Lochlash. After a quick stop to take photos of the bay we moved onto to Eilean Donan Castle. We didn't have time to go inside but the setting is so picturesque that I din't feel like we missed anything. From there we made our way to Inverness where we spent two nights.
Our first night in Inverness we went out for some late night curry and then to a pub that was actually hosting a music festival. We had a late night and so on Thursday Grant and I took a break from the tour to get some much needed rest. We had a lie in and then went for a walk around Inverness. We caught up on some laundry (so exciting) and had a quiet night in at our B&B. On Friday we went to Culloden Battlefield and hooked up with a second tour for the final two days as most of our original group was only on a five day tour. From Colloden we made our way to Loch Ness where we did a river cruise. It was actually nice enough out that Grant and I both got some sun. After the cruise we made our way to Grantown-on-spey, where we spent the last two nights of our tour.
Saturday morning we were up early so we could make our way to Spey Bay. We made some stops on the North coast and in Elgin, where there are beautiful ruins of a cathedral. From there we made our way to the Glenfiddich Distillery for a very enjoyable tour. I'm not a fan of whiskey but Grant enjoyed the tasting we did. On Sunday morning we stopped at Balmoral Castle and then we drove west to St. Andrews before ending the tour in Edinburgh and catching a train to Glasgow. We stayed there overnight and flew out to Iceland Monday afternoon. If you haven't been, I highly recommend a visit to Scotland. There wasn't a bad spot on the entire trip. I can't wait until we can go back.
Next week I'll share my photos from Iceland. I'm off to BC for an extended weekend. Enjoy the last weekend of July!