Scotland The Brave: Part 1
By now (a couple of weeks later), we have had plenty of time to think and re-cap how our week was in Scotland. This post is 1 of 3 and I traveled with three photographers. SOOOOOOOO. They are photo HEAV-Y.
Here is how I would describe Scotland from our experience:
The landscapes are incredible and different in every area of the country.
The Scots are so hospitable and served us so joyfully!
The bed and breakfast/air bnb's are the coziest (in size of structure and in ambiance).
There are no billboards, advertisements, business lights, barely street lights, and slim cell phone service out in the country! A refreshment to our eyes and brains for a week.
There are more sheep than there are human beings in the highlands. And those humans live beautiful simple lives (from what we gathered).
Get ready to scroll. And then do a quick stop. A gasp. And then a continued scroll.
We flew out of Minneapolis to Chicago to London to Glasgow because Courtney is amazing and found us the flight deals of the century.
We got our rental SUV, Logan hopped in the wrong side of the car and onto the wrong side of the road into Glasgow. We found this cool neighborhood called Kelvingrove and ate our first Scottish meal at the Kelvingrove Cafe.
We needed afternoon coffee real bad before we left the city. There is a cute shop called Papercup that we found. Of course in a tiny space across from the oldest apartments ever.
Here is where we drove a lonnnngggg rugged 3.5 hours. We knew we wanted to get as far north as possible in a couple of days-so we just found a town that was near a lot of whiskey distilleries and we went that way.
We figured out by the end that there is a short stretch of interstate type roads outside of Glasgow and Edinburgh and then there are highways and there are also backroads. Lots and lots of backroads.
So we thought we would see Cairngorms National Park on the way to these distilleries (Balvenie, Glenfiddich, and other Speyside Scotch). However, we soon realized that it gets dark at 4PM this time of year, the roads were INSANE, and we needed to actually just find somewhere to sleep.
We were treated wonderfully. There was a wood burner and a lot of whiskey. We kept a list of what all we tasted for all of you who favor Scotch:
Glenfarclas 15 Year
Glenfarclas 17 Year
Tomintoul 15 Year Port Cask
Glenfiddich 21 Year
Craigelleche 17 Year
Balvenie 14 Year Cuban Cask
Balvenie 17 Year Doublewood
Dalmore Cigar Malt
People told us that we would have no trouble finding a Bed and Breakfast in whatever town we rolled into that day. That sounded incredible to us (very flexible and laid back travelers here).
All of the B&B's on the Main Street of Dufftown had no vacancies, and the ones we called were full. Our bartender, Rosemund, grew very concerned for us around 8:30PM and started calling her friends :)
Luckily, a cute country cottage on Air BNB approved our request at 9PM and we drove a little further into Craigelleche. There was a fireplace and a shower and we were in heaven. The next morning we woke up to find ourselves in a beautiful little forest meadow.
We stopped quick in Elgin to have breakfast - typical Scottish breakfast = eggs, sausage, black bean patty, bacon, tomatoes, AND mushrooms. SO MUCH FOOD.
We didn't want to make the same mistake as the previous night, so we found an Air BNB a few hours north and booked it and headed up. We bypassed Inverness (we hear it's fun if you're into the Lochness Monster tours..)
We delayed our trip when we saw a waterfall lookout sign. Rogie Falls was so beautiful. SOOOO beautiful.
We kept going north and north and north in the rain. We learned our lesson the night before and stuck to the highways, which are still not straight and wide by any means, but you can get above 40 kilometers/hr at least.
We took a few stops as we would come around a corner and just see breathtaking sights. The landscape grew more rugged and rough, less green pasture-like. Like traveling north into Minnesota from Iowa, the land was littered with lochs.
We rounded this bend (listening to Monster Mash on Halloween) and came to the top of Loch Maree. It was amazing.
This happened once. Sheep in the middle of the road happened a few times, and completely stopping to inch around oncoming traffic happened all the time.
We found our AirBNB (just wait) and went into town to get groceries and find dinner. The town was called Shieldag and it's this sleepy little town on the coast. This pub was again, the only thing with lights on and we never looked back.
It had locals, a big fireplace, and a red-headed English girl serving whiskey. It was the coziest.
Scotch we tried here:
Talisker 10 Year (my fave)
OKAYYYYY. This AirBNB is chart topper. It's on the coast, ran by this husband wife who retired from London and settled in the middle of nowhere Scotland. The cottage is beautiful cozy and well done.
We spent the next 4 hours playing cards by the fire before going to sleep in the softest beds ever.
I woke up to this view outside, Zach in fur, and breakfast being made. Logan brought this wonderful instant coffee which was perfect for our type of trip.
The beach is just outside and down below this house. There are apparently seals in the summer!
We mapped out how to get down to the Isle of Skye and headed out of this beautiful building. We came across flocks of sheep that we needed to try and touch before we left the Highlands. It didn't work, but Zach got the closest.
I mailed my parents a post card while we filled up with gas in the next tiny sleepy coastal town. AHHHH these towns are mysterious to me as they are so quiet and I wonder where they work and what they do. If we had more time, I would have liked to stay a few nights and explore the harbor and the towns a bit more.
ANDDDDDD onto the Isle of Skye!!!! And then down to Islay!!! Just stay posted.