Scottish Highlands Tour

Glencoe Scotland Scottish Highlands Tour

Last week I shared photos from our weekend in Edinburgh, Scotland last November. I absolutely loved exploring the city by foot and learning about the history of the area. But for a change of pace, we also had the chance to take a Scottish Highlands tour and explore the dramatic landscapes of Scotland.

Glencoe Scotland Scottish Highlands Tour

To make things easy on ourselves and maximize our time, we opted for a 1-day bus tour with Heart of Scotland Tours that took us all the way up to Lock Ness and back (about 3.5-4 hours one way if you don’t make any stops). Absolutely the right choice for us. Our tour guide was great, talking through all sorts of history of the areas, glens, and villages we passed. And our group was small, only 9 of us, so it felt easy to ask questions and take our time.

Scottish Highlands Bus Tour

Of course, we did want to stop and take in the sights, and we had a chance to do so in a few places along the way to and from Loch Ness. Here are some photos from Glencoe on our way north…

We arrived at Loch Ness around lunchtime, and grabbed some fish and chips from The Moorings for lunch before the Loch Ness tour….

Lunch Scottish Highlands Tour
Fish and Chips Scottish Highlands

Felt good to eat something warm in the November chill! We explored a little bit of Fort Augustus, the village where the Loch Ness tour starts….

…and then headed for the boat!

Spirit of Loch Ness

Austin and I love a boat tour, and Loch Ness was no exception. It’s always interesting to me to hear all about a place.

Loch Ness Bus Tour

We learned that the Loch Noss’ water is so dark and murky (and mysterious?) because it is full of peat from the soil all around the loch…

…and that the loch is so deep, it is actually the largest volume of water lake in all of the British Isles.

And if you are wondering whether we saw the Loch Ness monster… well, if you look closely enough….

Loch Ness Monster

Haha šŸ™‚

After the Loch Ness tour, we headed back to the bus and back to Edinburgh. We made a couple of stops along the way, first at Spean Bridge Mill.

Spean Bridge Mill

It was a nice place to stretch our legs, grab a bite, and pick up any souvenirs you might want.

And we stopped for ice cream in Pitlochry after dark. Plenty of flavors to choose from, including Scotch of course.

All in all, a great day and I loved all of our Scottish Highlands Tour. Just like Edinburgh, I already want to go and explore more!

Scottish Highlands Tour

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Edinburgh, Scotland

Edinburgh Castle

Like I said in my last post about Paris, I’ve been looking through my travel photos and reliving the memories of past trips while we stay inside, social distancing. Last week, I posted photos of our first anniversary trip, and now I want to post photos from our second anniversary weekend exploring Scotland last November. Let’s start with Edinburgh, Scotland!

We rented a car and drove from Bristol to Edinburgh. It was a journey of about 7 hours, and our first time seeing a lot of the British countryside along the way. I love a good road trip.

Sightseeing

The evening we arrived, we visited the Edinburgh Christmas Market….

Edinburgh Christmas Market

European Christmas markets are so fun – we spent the evening checking out the shops, trying lots of different food, and enjoying the holiday music. And since we had driven up and knew we had extra room in our car, we were able to purchase some large prints by a local Scottish artist. Perfect.

Edinburgh Christmas Market

In the morning, we explored Edinburgh by foot. Here is the entrance to Edinburgh castle…

Edinburgh Castle

Like always, I’m drawn to the juxtaposition of the old and new. There’s a grand view of the modern city buildings below the castle….

Love a snapshot of two eras.

We listened to a Rick Steves audio tour: Edinburgh’s Royal Mile Walk. Since we had the tour on our phones, we walked the Royal Mile at a leisurely pace with lots of stops along the way whenever we liked. Totally convenient.

The Royal Mile

Here are some snapshots I took along the walk….

Edinburgh Bagpipes
Edinburgh Phone Booths

Lots of holiday decorations – I love the winter vibes.

Traffic cones topping the statues – this is a long-running thing in Edinburgh, we saw it in a lot of places! Here’s James Braidwood on the left, the founder of the first fire department in Edinburgh, and David Hume on the right, an Enlightenment philosopher born in Edinburgh.

Our favorite part of the walk was turning off the main route of the Royal Mile to explore a close, or alleyway: Lady Stair’s Close.

We would’ve completely missed this if we hadn’t heard Rick Steves mention it on the audio tour! The Writers’ Museum is a free museum just off Lady Stair’s Close that highlights some of the great Scottish writers. We loved it.

The museum is inside Lady Stair’s House, and walking through the house felt like a unique chance to explore how a wealthy Edinburgh home in history might have looked and felt.

After visiting the museum, I was totally inspired to find a bunch of Scottish lit to add to my own library (like Anne Donovan’s Buddha Da and a collection of Carol Ann Duffy poems). I’ve been excited to read literature from the UK while we are living here.

We had so much fun visiting Edinburgh, Scotland and can’t wait to come back. I would love the chance to see it in the summer, also!

I have some photos from our tour of the Scottish Highlands that I’d also like to share, so I will be back with those next.

Hope you and yours are staying safe and healthy –

kate

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