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Scotland – More Than Kilts & Whiskey

November 28, 2011 by Chelsea Slone

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Scotland is home to breathtaking dramatic scenery, mystical waters, and beautifully rare rock formations. It’s a place you want to grab your car and go see it all. The gorgeous landscape and the hidden wonders we discovered along the way made this one of our favorite road trips of all time.

Our trip through Scotland began in the charming capital city of Edinburgh. Edinburgh is a place that grew with class and preservation of the years. Anywhere and everywhere you go in the city you can look up and see the stunning Castle in Edinburgh’s skyline that lay atop of a volcanic castle rock in the center of the city. We spent the day here wondering around the castle and the cobblestone streets of the city contemplating which kilt store to go into and dress up. =) We also stopped for a drink at the Missoni Hotel they have in the city, which was absolutely adorable!

From Edinburgh we drove to the famous St. Andrews, which is home to Old Course, the oldest gold course in the world. There is no evidence to exactly when the birthdate of golf actually was here, but the earliest evidence written was a license issued in 1552, which permitted the community to “rear rabbits on the links to play to play golf, football, and schuteing.” However documents fom the reign of King James IV states that he bought golf clubs at St. Andrews in 1506, meaning golf is significantly older than the written evidence shows. We stood on the famous Swilcan Bridge on the Old Course and walked some of the course to see what it felt like to be in the shoes of the great golfers past, present, and future!

We then made our way to the North of Scotland to visit the gorgeous Highlands. This is said to be the most beautiful and romantic scenery in all of Scotland. The dramatic mountainous landscape proved this to be very true in my opinion. We passed by the famous steam train bride (aka the Hogwarts express in Harry Potter) and I was devastated it was closed for the winter!!! I guess now I have a reason to come back here, right? While driving through the Highlands we stopped at a wildlife reserve and saw the craziest looking camel I’ve ever seen. It’s a very rare camel called a Biron camel, and we had the best time taking pictures and trying to get it to move out from in front of our car! Last but not least is the unique looking highland cattle. With it’s long shaggy doglike hair, Tyler couldn’t resist stoping at the first farm he saw to snap some shots of these unique creatures.

Day two of exploring the Highlands we decided to visit the Glencoe National Forest and trek up a little mountain to feed the beautiful reindeer that live there. They were the most personable things and loved for you to hand feed them… One even tried to steal my leopard print scarf. They were adorable and the scenery from up there was unbelievable. After our hike through the forest we were told by two sweet ladies to stop at a little hole in the wall cafe for a delicious homemade meal and to see them feed the rare red squirrel. We took their advice and while we were eating the adorable little red squirrels came from nowhere to eat the food set out for them, I tried my best to get some pictures while Tyler laughed at me through the window knowing those little rings wouldn’t let me get close. I did get a few though!

We left Glencoe to visit the stunning Urquhart Castle on the edge of the famous Loch Ness waters. When you get out to the castle you standing there thinking to yourself this is exactly where I would have built a castle back then if I could, the beautiful surroundings of breathtaking mountains and water crashing against the cliffs are to die for. The famous Loch Ness waters are one of the most visited attractions in all of Scotland. This beautiful body of water is quite a mystery to scientists. They have spent ridiculous amounts of money and time trying to find out more about these waters and even how deep they are, but they have yet to find answers. There is a myth of the Loch Ness monster, which has been given the name Nessie. There have been serious reports of this monster tracing all the way back to the 6th century, but no one knows for sure if the infamous monster actually exists.

Our next venture was to the Isle of Skye, known for it’s unique beauty and hidden wonders. This was one of the most amazing parts of our trip to Scotland. We woke up before the sun came up and set off for an entire day of hiking and exploring and had such a fun time doing it all. Our first stop of the day was at the Eilean Donan Castle just a few miles before crossing the bridge over into the Isle of Skye. This castle is probably the most famous and beautiful castles in all of Scotland. It has been in several films, but the most famous one is James Bond film “The World Is Not Enough”. However, I know it best from the Chick Flick “Made of Honor” so I was so excited to see this gorgeous place in person. To refresh your memory this was one of Collin’s four seasonal homes.

After making it over the long bridge and into the Isle of Skye we began our way around the outer loop of the Island making our first stop at the incredible Old Man of Storr rocks and mountains. The view of this from afar is so incredible that when you get to the stop where you can chose to hike up the mountain, you just can’t resist not going. We hiked up a couple of miles and decided the gorgeous views of the water up there were all we were going to see and after a mini photo shoot we made our way back down the mountain and on to the next stop.

Our next little find was the Kilt Rock. It was oh my amazing! The unique rock formation and the stunning water fall bursting from the mountain with the waves of the water below crashing in was truly an unforgettable site to see.

Our next stop was at the Fairy Glens. This hidden wonder of conical shaped mounds and miniature lochs were fascinating. It was almost like a little Scotland Highlands model in the middle of the Island. Tt hardly looked real it was so beautiful.

After hiking through the magical Fairy Glens we drove to Neist Point Lighthouse, the most western point in the Isle of Skype. The view of the mountains with the lighthouse at the tip is said to be one of the most traveled to sites on the island. So we arrived and attempted to get out of the car but the wind slammed our car doors shut before we could even try to get out. We could tell a storm was coming in fast. Tyler finally got his door opened and said he was going to go take a few quick photos and to just stay in the car because the wind was going to be even worse out there. Well it took me a whole minute and a half to decide I didn’t want to miss out on seeing the “must see view of the island”. I got the door open and started to run to catch up with Tyler and about half way to him the strongest gust of wind came and I literally had to hold onto the railing because I just knew It would blow me off the cliff any second. Oh did I mention the view point was closed and private property but we often ignore these signs when they are out in the middle of nowhere. So Tyler by chance looks back (probably because he knew I couldn’t sit in the car and miss out) because he swears he didn’t hear me screaming for two minutes straight. Anyway I take off running towards him again because if he can do it I can too, right? And when I finally make it to him we run as fast and we can against the wind catch a glimpse of this thing and decide we probably need to go back. At first we started taking pictures of the wind blowing me sideways but soon realized it was getting pretty terrible out and we needed to back it back quickly. That’s when the rain started in and felt like hail pounding down and flying into our faces and we had to walk into the wind as it got stronger because it was the only way up. Long story short we finally made it back to the car and I didn’t get out of it again until we got to our little bed and breakfast!

However, Tyler bundled up and made one last stop at the Fairy Pools where he got to see this incredible site! I sadly decided my wind burned face and pounding head and ears would be better off just staying in the car.

On our way back from our day in Skye we stopped back by the Eilean Donan Castle to see it lit up at night and as you can see it was amazing.

After all of our exploring through the beautiful lands of Scotland we checked into a little retreat to relax and celebrate my golden birthday this year on 11/11/11, and what a beautiful place to be able to celebrate in! We loved every minute of our time here and can’t wait to come back and venture through it again someday.

Cheers,

T+C

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