Send Me To Scotland
I recently had the opportunity to knock off another destination on my travel bucket list — Scotland! This small country, roughly the size of South Carolina, is rich in history and beauty. My sister joined me for this adventure and we both can say enthusiastically that Scotland did not disappoint.
We started in Edinburgh, the capital, a compact and slightly hilly city with a beautiful, medieval Old Town. The city is not so large that it’s overwhelming, and it can easily be explored in just a few days. Although one could easily stay longer as it is a very charming place with plenty to do. A stay in Edinburgh is not complete though, without a visit to Edinburgh Castle, the highest point of the city. Another must is to stroll down the royal mile to Holyrood palace. You could spend a full day just exploring this small section with cobblestone streets full of shops restaurants and pubs. To get the best view of the city, take the time to walk to Calton Hill.
After a couple of days in Edinburgh, we ventured north to Inverness via Scotrail. Once in Inverness, we stayed at Culloden House, which is very close to the Culloden battlefield and museum. For history buffs, this is where the English defeated the Scots in 1746, the last major battle fought on British soil. After this battle, the Highland culture was wiped out, as the Brits banned the Highlanders from using the Gaelic language, and from wearing tartans and kilts.
It was in Inverness where we met up with Backroads. For those not familiar with Backroads, it is a great travel supplier we often use that offers hiking, biking and multi-sport trips around the world. Our group of 16 people were about to embark on a 5 day hiking trip around the Highlands and the Isle of Skye. What I love most about Backroads is that they take the worry out of just about everything — hotels are already booked for you, meals are planned, transportation is taken care of, and hiking options are previously mapped out. One can pick and choose how active they want to be on a daily basis.
There’s no way to describe the rugged beauty of the Highlands and my photos really don’t do it justice. It’s just one of those places you have to see firsthand to capture. This part of Scotland is far removed from tourists and at times the only people on the trails were the members of our group. I will say that some of the trails were quite rocky and the weather changed quicker than it does here in central Kentucky! Yes, it did rain, and the wind blew, but then the sun would peek out. We trudged through bogs, up and over munros (Scotland’s name for hills that are not quite mountains), and around lochs.
Just when you think you’re a bit too tired and need a break, here comes a Backroads leader with a treat and word of encouragement. In fact, they had several “treats” for us. Nothing like a nice cup of peppermint tea after a morning hike, or a hot chocolate with a little Bailey’s in it if you prefer. They also arranged for a whisky tasting and local musicians to entertain in the evening. And for those Harry Potter fans, we rode the Hogwarts Express! All of our hotels were incredible, but on the last night of our trip we got a special treat — we stayed at Inverlochy Castle, which is a Virtuoso property.
If you are looking to explore Scotland, or if you are just curious about a more active trip anywhere, please let us know. We’d love to help!