Scotland: The Highlands
Welcome back to my little Scotland series. Somehow, the last part of a travel series is always the hardest to write and the one I am delaying the longest, because as soon as it’s over it’s over and I don’t have any more excuses looking at the taken pictures the whole day. But all good things come to an end, right? So, this time, I’ll be talking about the tour through the Scottish Highlands I was on for the last day I spent in Scotland.
We booked our Rabbies tour, you’ll find a link to the agency at the end of the post, just a few days before. Choosing a tour was really hard as you have so many different ones to choose from, but in the end they’re all very similar. Also, we didn’t want our friend to be part of a tour she has already been on before and as she had done quite a bit beforehand, it was not that easy. We opted for one that excluded Loch Ness, as that was just too far away, and we only wanted to make a 1-day tour. Our tour guide was called Billy and a very fun guy. Despite being there for almost a week, it was definitely a fun experience listening to a thick Scottish accent the whole day. During the whole time in the car, we were about 16 people, Billy told all kinds of stories, from historical and geographical explanations to mysterious legends.
Our first stop was at Doune Castle, which is just at the fringe of the Scottish Highlands. The courtyard castle was built as home of Regent Albany, ‘Scotland’s uncrowned king’. Nowadays, it is also a popular filming location for instance for Outlander, Game of Thrones or Monty Python. But the area surrounding the castle is at least as interesting as the castle itself. To be honest, I was really surprised by the bright green colours of the nature. I assure these pictures are unedited. It was truly surreal.
Our next stop was Loch Lubnaig. ‘Loch’ is simply the Scottish word for lake, which most of us either don’t know or simply forget as ‘Loch’ sounds more exotic. Loch Lubnaig is a small freshwater loch and perfect if you do not want to get overrun by tourists. It was really quiet, and our group seemed to be the only one stopping there, which, for me, always is a great plus. Beautiful, calm nature is just much more enjoyable if you don’t hear numerous people chatting in the background, am I right? The weather was nearly unbearable, but the view definitely made up for that. Also, I guess the misty fog simply added to the atmosphere.
We had our lunch break for the day in Inverary. As you can imagine spending a whole day seated in a little bus can get quite exhausting, which is why we’re glad we made a lot of breaks. At first, Billy showed us Inverary Castle, which might be familiar to the Downton Abbey fans out there. It is not one of the main castles of the series, but where a season finale took place. The little village of Inverary is quite cute and has some cafés, tea rooms and pubs to take a break. During a stroll through the streets we bought some tea, made a lunch break and enjoyed the few minutes without rain. As you can imagine, December is not high season for Highland tours at all, so we were the only group of tourists we saw in town.
Loch Lomond, was the last stop on our tour through the Loch Lomond & the Trossachs National Park. It is the largest inland stretch of water in Great Britain by surface areaand contains about 30 islands. A fun fact Billy told us: on one of these islands (Inchconnachan) a rich lady held some wallabies, which she introduced to the island in the 1940s and so this island is now the only place on the world outside of Australia with a wallaby colony. They roam wild on the island ever since. There are several villages and towns next to the Loch and we stopped in one of them, Luss to be precise, before heading back to Edinburgh.
Of course, we did see many other beautiful Lochs, landscapes, castles and villages, but these were the main stops of our tour. It was so much fun, and I can honestly only recommend doing one if you visit Scotland. I surely will do one more the next time get there. And I can only recommend Billy, our tour guide, who never stopped explaining endless things, despite sometimes nearly all the group members were asleep. Still, I am glad we did it at the end of our trip as the weather was really bad and (as you can see on the pictures) quite rainy and wet all the time, I definitely caught a cold up there, that’s why I’m glad we did all the sightseeing the days before that one.
Summing up the whole trip to Scotland, I have to admit once again that I truly underestimated this beautiful part of the United Kingdom. Even though, we had to ‘enjoy’ the typical rainy weather nearly the whole week, it was a truly unforgettable trip, not only because we go to see our friend again, but also because of all the other friendly and sociable Scottish people we got to meet. If you think about visiting the UK the next time, why not consider going up a bit farther north than England and London? You surely won’t be disappointed.