Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Scotland, Part V

And finally, the drive back to Edinburgh from Skye. We made a few stops on the way back.

First stop was Glenfinnan Viaduct.  The Jacobite monument is across the road. It's a memorial to those who followed Bonnie Prince Charlie in "the forty-five".

We even stayed to see a train go by. It wasn't the steam train, unfortunately, but still fun.

After that, we drove through  Fort William and over to Glen Coe for a quick stop. The drive back was absolutely gorgeous and as we passed through to top of The Trossachs, we realized that's probably where we should have spent more time.

As we neared Edinburgh, we realized we had time to stop by Stirling Castle so we did a quick tour there.

And from there we made a quick stop at The Kelpies, which was on mine and Amy's lists as something we had to see. I don't really know why because I've never even been near a horse before so it's not like I'm a fan of them. Still we stopped and got some pictures.

By the time we were done with that, we were so ready to be out of the car and I was very ready to go home. We dropped off the car, took a cab to our hotel and repacked our bags. The next morning we got up and got to the airport for the long trip home.

This was a good trip. Scotland is truly a beautiful country and I love the history and pretty much everything about it, except the driving. I'd go back.  And now, I'm wanting to read books set there. :)

Scotland, Part IV

I'm mixing up our days on Skye but no matter.

We hiked to the Old Man of Storr and then drove to and hiked around The Quiraing.

You actually see the Old Man better far away or right close up.

Before The Quiraing is the stop for Kilt Rock.

The Quiraing

Single track road with "passing place"

We also made a stop at Dunvegan Castle. It was another one we really enjoyed with beautiful gardens. This was the first time it rained on us the whole trip...and of course my rain jacket was back in my room.

After Dunvegan, we hiked up to the fairy pools. It was still cloudy and raining so we didn't get great pictures, and really, could only see a glimpse of why these are called the fairy pools (a little hint of color in the water) but it was still a nice hike.

And finally the morning before the flight home we woke up on Skye and had to drive back to Edinburgh. We took the ferry from Armadale to Mallaig. It's not a long ferry ride, but was a great way to get off the island...and about a 2 minute drive from our lodging. LOL - I got nervous because we didn't have a reservation for the ferry so I wanted to leave early...but then mom was up super early and hustling us so we were there before the place even opened.

Monday, May 22, 2017

Scotland, Part III

After Inverness, we drove to Skye. It's probably what I was looking forward to the most. I've wanted to go there ever since I read a book that took place there.

Getting back in the car felt much better the second day we drove. It was a very nice drive down the Loch Ness. We stopped at Urquhart Castle and also at Eilean Donan Castle and enjoyed both of them. It was cloudy that day but didn't rain on us.

Urquhart Castle ruins and the Loch Ness

Urquhart Castle grounds and the Loch Ness
Eilean Donan Castle

And since we were too early to check into our accommodations, we drove straight to Portree when we got to Skye. Portree has the brightly painted harbor and is probably the biggest city and the hub most people use but we didn't stay there and I'm kind of glad.

Portree harbor

They call this bay "The Lovely Muck"

We stayed on the grounds of Armadale Castle in a guesthouse. It was a lovely place to stay. The only downside being that it is located in Skye's southern peninsula and most of the isle's attractions are on the northern one. If you don't mind driving, it's great. The distance is not really that far, it's just that the small, twisty roads and a lot of single track make it take a little longer to get to.

Entrance to the guest house: Castleton Suite

Amadale Castle ruins

Armadale Castle ruins: a glimpse inside

Armadale Castle ruins

castle grounds were beautiful
I'm not really one to get excited about royalty but I do love the castles, especially the ruined ones and the glimpses it gives you of history. Being surrounded by Scottish history and the Stewarts and the Jacobites for a few days was really kind of fun for me.

Friday, May 19, 2017

Scotland, Part II

The next part of the trip, we drove north up to Inverness.

First stop was Scone Palace in Scone. It's the crowing place of Scottish kings. And it has a hedge maze so now my life is kind of complete because I can say I've been in a hedge maze. The maze will be a little bit better in a few weeks when the leaves are actually blooming, but I'm not complaining.

Scone Palace

Hedge maze with fountain at the center

And of course there is the Stone of Scone, which is a replica, the original being kept at Westminster Abbey, according to the sign.

So, thanks to all at once and to each one,
Whom we invite to see us crown'd at Scone.

---from Macbeth

Stone of Scone (replica)

After Scone, we continued north and this is where we made our mistake. We did not take the A9 (the main road) and instead decided to go through the middle of the Cairngorms National Park. We wanted scenery. This was our first day in the car. My sister was driving and we were all a bit stressed with the very small roads, weird passing/parking rules and it wasn't a really nice ride for us. Then to top it off, the Cairngorms are just finishing with winter and were brown, brown, brown. I live in Utah so I know about brown mountains and I think they have their own beauty. But... not the best scenery we've ever seen, which is too bad because pictures online are really nice. Yeah, we just came a few weeks too early for some things.  And I didn't take any pictures of that part of the trip.

We finally made it to Inverness and decided we were not getting back in the car until the next leg of our journey. So basically, we had a full day in Inverness that we had planned to go to Culloden or Fort George and just didn't. We wandered around the city and took it easy. It is a beautiful city but one day is plenty of time there if you don't actually get out to see other things.

Inverness Castle - still used today as a court house

Forget which church this is

The river is lovely

Thursday, May 18, 2017

Scotland, Part I

I'm back from my trip to Scotland. Overall, I have to say I loved the country and the people were very nice, those that I interacted with, at least.

View of Edinburgh Castle from Princes Street gardens
This trip it was me, and my mom, and my sister. We had a good time together. The only times we really argued/got mad/yelled/anything not happy happened when we were in the car. Driving together on foreign roads and on the "wrong" side of both the car and the road did make for some interesting times.

We flew in and out of Edinburgh. It was a fun city to visit. My favorite things we did in Edinburgh would have to be:
1. Mary King's Close tour
2. Botanical garden
3. Holyrood Park/Salisbury Crags/Arthur's Seat

I don't have any pictures of Mary King's Close because they weren't allowed. A "close" is a small street/alleyway. Edinburgh is built on a hills and sometimes they built over other buildings. Mary King's close is basically a street that is now underground because it has been built over. I love underground things so this was definitely something I enjoyed.

The botanical garden was just a nice walk away from traffic and people. I love gardens and flowers so this is another thing that appealed to me. I loved the Glass House and all the different varieties of plants and flowers they kept there.

No idea what this is but very cool

Glass House

We hiked up the middle of Holyrood Park and went to the Salisbury Crags part. I did not go all the way up to Arthur's Seat but my sister did. The gorse is in bloom and it was a very nice hike, although very windy at the top. 

View from Holyrood Palace: Arthur's Seat is peak on left

Arthur's Seat and the gorse in bloom

Salisbury Crags
The weather was fantastic for us. It was a little chilly on a few days, but it didn't rain on us until the very last days.  We spent about 4 days here and then picked up our rental car and headed north.

I love the rooftops: reminds me of Mary Poppins

Greyfriar's Bobby on Candlemaker Row