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Scotland - Part 3

So here we are on the last 4 days of our Scotland Trip. It was fabulous, breathtaking, and beauty-filled. A really wonderful trip.
Just a few of the Scotland Castles: Stalker, Urquhart, Inverness, Dunnottar, and Edinburgh

Once again, I have lots and lots of pictures so please enjoy!

The gorse was in full bloom, covering the countryside.

 Leaving Oban, we headed up toward Inverness which was our next stop. We were headed into the mountains and of course, it was raining on and off. One of the first things we saw was this small castle - Castle Stalker. You can read about it here: http://www.castlestalker.com/wp/



We found a spot to take pictures of it. Then we jumped back in the car and headed on. We passed through lots of pretty scenery...somehow I didn't get a picture of the mountains with snow still on them. They were so pretty shining in the sometimes sun. We got stuck in a slow moving line of traffic...finally passed 3 semis with windmill parts on them after they pulled over to let everyone pass. I'm not sure how they fit on the narrow 2 lane road. I sure wouldn't have wanted to meet them!

We stopped for gas and I saw this mossy fence. Had to take a picture of it - saw so much moss on the trip!

We stopped for lunch in Fort Augustus. It was a charming little village sitting on the southwest end of Loch Ness, although we had the worse luck with finding a spot for lunch. The first place was closed, the 2nd was reserved for a big group coming in, another across the bridge had about 3 tour buses descend on them about the time we drove up. We finally had luck at a pub and got in just before the tourist groups hit it. Whew.

From there, we drove across the bridge to the other side of Loch Ness. The area is touristy as you can imagine- the Loch Ness Monster legend has people hoping to catch a glimpse of her.

But the area has stunning scenery and that made it worth all the cars on the road. (I can't imagine what it's like in the peak times - we were there in off season). We stopped at Castle Urquhart and fortunately, the crowds were low. The sun also decided to come out for awhile although it was windy and chilly.

Here's a view of the whole ruins:


Headed to the ruins:
 


From there, we headed into Inverness. We were too early to check into our B&B, so we walked around the castle there. It is used as a courthouse but the grounds are pretty and you get a good view of the city.

It felt good to stretch our legs after being in the car. Then we checked into our B&B: Craigside Guest House. It was just up the hill from the castle and we even had a castle view! This was probably our best B&B. The hostess was gracious and very kind. The room was large with a king-sized bed, spacious bath, and very clean. After Oban (cramped, issues with the toilet and hostess so-so) this was heavenly. We didn't realize Craigside was a Rick Steves recommended place but we certainly see why it is.

That night, we ate supper at Cafe 1. This was our special anniversary meal and it didn't disappoint. The food was superb and the atmosphere friendly. We found Inverness to be charming and would love to go back and spend more time there.

But we still have places to go and things to see! The next morning after breakfast, we headed out once again. This time to take a distillery tour, another castle ruins to explore, all while driving toward Edinburgh our last stop on our trip.

Ah. Our distillery tour. Now that's a story. First, we tried to take one in Oban. Nope. They were booked up. 2nd, we had one booked for the morning we were driving to Loch Ness but quickly realized we weren't going to make it so cancelled it. 3rd, Bruce made reservations for one on our way to Edinburgh only when we arrived, we discovered we were at the wrong one! One that didn't do tours and the one we were supposed to be at was 2 hours away. (10min before the tour was supposed to start). Oops. Fortunately, we found one close by and as luck would have it, were the only ones on the tour.
Benromach Distillery is still completely run by hand. It was fascinating to learn about the process. It was a wonderful experience!

Back in the car - we headed toward Aberdeen and then down the east coast of Scotland. We finally got to Dunnottar Castle. It was much bigger than Urquhart! It sits way up on a cliff. 

Of course, it was raining again. So glad we had our rain jackets!
Yep, there were a lot of steps to get over to the ruins. Again, the scenery was stunning.

Supposedly, the lord of the castle had a lion and kept it in the area I have marked below. I must say, it wasn't a very big den. It doesn't sound like he got to keep said lion long as it's roaring disturbed the lady of the castle!
 I loved walking around and wondering what it must have been like to live in such a place.

The rocks on that pathway were very slippery from the rain.

We saw these yellow flowers growing on the castle wall...inside one of the rooms! Granted there was no roof but it still was funny to see plants there trying to take over. The lichen made cool patterns on the stone as you can see around the sundial and crests insets.

Dunnottar Castle is definitely a must see! Cold and wet, we got back into the car and headed to Edinburgh.

Oh the scenery! How I wish I could have captured it all. As we drove down the road, we did a version of "slug bug" - you know - the game where you slug someone when you see a Volkswagen Beetle. Only our version was "castle slug". You'd be driving and there on the hilltop you'd see a castle so "castle slug"! Fun to try to beat Bruce to it. Plus lots and lots of sheep on green hillsides. Just beautiful!

We finally made it into Edinburgh and after a few wrong turns, found our Air B&B. It was nice to have a whole apartment to ourselves with no schedule to worry about. We found a pub for supper then turned in for the night.

Next morning we were up and headed to the Edinburgh castle. We were happy to be able to walk and not drive this day. It was raining...of course.

We saw some ornate buildings:

 Misty view of the castle up on its hill:

The rain kept the crowds down while we stood in line for tickets.

Finally, we had tickets and walked around the castle. This one is not in ruins.






The unicorn of Scotland:

View of the city from the castle walls:

By the time we came out, the sun was shining and the ticket line was very, very long. So glad we braved the rain and went early! We headed down the Royal Mile and shopped for souvenirs. We saw a bagpiper finally!

Cool clock on building:

Finally blue skies and warmer weather!

 I loved this building.

We ate lunch and dropped off our purchases at the apartment. Then we headed out to the Botanical gardens. Again we walked. It ended up being farther than we thought so we only had about 30 minutes to walk around before they closed but the flowers were just beautiful!







The bushes were just loaded with blossoms!

We ended the day with a good supper (yum - steak and ale pie!) and then packed up for our flight the next morning. If you made it all this way, congratulations!

We did prove you can drive around Scotland in just a few days and see lots of different things although you won't get to spend much time in each location. The good thing is we now know where'd we stay longer and explore that area more in depth. Guess that means another trip! :)

Comments

  1. Oh Cecilia the castles and history of the buildings and towns are amazing. What a great trip to celebrate your anniversary. Yep I think another trip back would be put back on the bucket list for sure. So happy you enjoyed your trip and enjoyed seeing the culture of life and the oh so beautiful history. Happy Monday.
    Kris

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    Replies
    1. Thanks, Kris. It was really amazing. I don't think I'd ever get tired of visiting there. Still so much to see! Have a wonderful week!
      Cecilia

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  2. Truly a trip of a lifetime Cecilia, and I’m so glad you decided to visit for your anniversary. You will never forget it!

    xxx

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    Replies
    1. That's for sure, Doreen! It was wonderful and we will remember it forever!

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  3. I am SO green! Watching movies, I often wonder how they lived in such places. But live they did. Low light, cold floors, drafty rooms, water closets! ugh! What would they think if they could see how we live today? So awesome, Cecilia! Who took the picture of you two together? a stray tourist?

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    Replies
    1. There was a group from Utah. We had them take our picture then we took theirs.
      Guess they didn't know any different so it wasn't as hard for them as it would be for us.

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  4. What a wonderful adventure you had! I thought the same thing about all of the moss from the photos Rachel has shared ;) And all the castles! Thanks for sharing!

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    1. It was so fun. I could picture Manchester when reading about their trip since that's where we started. Yeah, the moss was crazy. Everywhere! It's so green there but it does rain quite a bit. 😊

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  5. Thanks so much for sharing your adventures, Cecilia!It brought me back to my honeymoon in Ireland and all the castles and manor homes we stayed in! Even the weather was similar! So glad you had such a lovely time:) xo Kathleen

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  6. Cecilia,
    Wow, wow and wow! This is a trip of a lifetime and I enjoyed seeing not only the gorgeous scenery but your smile! The lushness and history are mesmerizing, I can only imagine how you must have gotten caught up in it all and nearly felt transported through time.
    I am so happy you had this wonderful opportunity!
    Hugs,
    Jemma

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  7. I just finished your anniversary tour. I enjoyed it SO much! What a wonderful experience! I would love to take a 40th anniversary trip to Ireland next year, but I'm not sure my husband is up to driving on the "other" side of the road. You sure have inspired me, though. Your photos are stunning, your commentary interesting, and I just love your good attitude about the Scottish weather. Thanks so much for sharing your trip on your blog, Cecilia. And happy anniversary!

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    1. Thanks, Laurel. We laughed so much about the weather. We brag in Texas that if you don't like the weather just wait a day but in Scotland, they say if you don't like it, wait ten minutes. It pretty much did change every ten minutes. What a hoot. It actually wasn't too bad driving on the wrong side...the roundabouts were a challenge though. I hope you get to go to Ireland!

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  8. Oh, Cecilia- I have been away too long and have missed reading about your trip. Please bear with me and I will catch up. Just wanted to check to see if you are able to get this through your email. xo Diana

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  9. Oh, Cecilia! How exciting this trip must have been! I enjoyed seeing Scotland through your eyes... I'm sure you made so many special memories during your travels!
    I'm getting ready to fly back to South Africa after spending almost a month here in China with my dad. I can't wait to share pictures! I've loved every minute...I definitely want to come back and explore other cities... China is an amazing country and so beautiful!
    Oh, its been delightful visiting with you today!
    Much love!

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