Scotland: Highlands and Lowlands

When:  Summer 2013

Where:  Carrutherstown; Spean Bridge; Inverness; Skye; St. Andrews; Edinburgh

Hotels: Hetland Hall Hotel; Spean Bridge Hotel; Abermar Guest House; Ailsa Craig Hotel





After leaving York, England, our family continued north into Scotland.  Our first stop was in Carrutherstown just outside of Dumfries.  We were arriving early so we had planned to go to the Cream O'Galloway Farm.  This was a true highlight of our trip.  We had really tried to integrate some child friendly activities into our holiday, but this excursion was centered around Sir.  We signed up for an ice cream tasting, which was a blast!  We also spent time roaming the farm grounds and exploring their extensive indoor and outdoor play yards.  An overall great experience and highly recommended.  After arriving at our hotel (Hetland Hall) in the afternoon, we spent some more time outdoors.  We met a sweet couple from Blackpool, England who were also on holiday.  The man made us chuckle by making fun of a Scottish accent in his less than distinguishable Blackpool accent.  "How can you understand anything they say!" he said.  Following our encounter with the other guests, we retired to the dining room where we enjoyed a truly proper Scottish dinner.  I ordered the haggis, which was prepared perfectly and isn't near as exotic in flavor as I might of expected.  Sir enjoyed a not so traditional child's pizza.  I can't for the life of me remember what Todd ordered, but I'm sure it was just as delicious.  I must admit, to the Blackpool couples' delight, I had a rough time understanding our waitress through her accent, but her mannerisms were polite and she was a doll to my son.

The following morning we enjoyed a full Scottish breakfast.  I can honestly say that as delicious as it was, I didn't think I would ever be able to eat breakfast again after finishing it.  Over previous last week, we must have squared away tens of thousands of calories in the form of breakfasts and my arteries were bulging at the seams. I was done with breakfasts...at least until the next morning.  We set off again and were to meet my mother, aunt, and uncle at a castle I had insisted on seeing just a few hours north of where we had spent the night.  On our way, we decided it was much too out of the way for us because we were to carry on up to Spean Bridge for the night and we were honestly exhausted from the whirlwind of our vacation so far.  We pulled over into a small parking lot in a little town to make a phone call to my mother.  We were hoping to catch her before she made the turn towards the castle so that they didn't go out of their way either.  She and my aunt and uncle had flown into Edinburgh that morning from Ireland where they had spent the previous week.  As we were pulling over I got a call from none other than my mother.  She immediately started carrying on about how they were exhausted from the last week, she had fallen into a river and got extremely sick and that my aunt had the flu.  She insisted that there was no way that they could meet us at the castle and apologized.  I told her that we too were exhausted and didn't want to go and that we would just meet at Spean Bridge Hotel.  She asked where we were and I told her name of the little town.  Lo and behold they had just entered the town and pulled off into the exact same parking lot we were in!  We were still on the phone when they pulled up next to us!  I was a sight to see!  What fun it was running into them there.  After our greetings we all grabbed a hot coffee at the cafe near by and took in the sights.  Scotland is truly beautiful.

We spent a fun two nights in Spean Bridge, a cute little village town.  There they have a Woolen Mill, hiking trails, and a famous World War II memorial.  It's known as "the crossroads of the Highlands" and is a great base for touring out to other parts of Scotland.  Following Spean Bridge, we ventured even farther north into Inverness.  Inverness felt like a city in the clouds.  It was beautiful and had a very magical feeling to it.  On our way there, we drove through some of the most awesome mountains in the Highlands and made our way out to the Isle of Skye because we just had to give it a visit being so close.  Our drive out there was rather terrifying because of the winding roads and the whole not-being-used-to-driving-on-the-left-side thing.  But, oh, it was worth it.  I felt as though we were driving through a land that was otherworldly.  We only spent one night in Inverness, making sure to walk around the city and take in as many sights as possible.  We had a strange run in with a group of people that had clear intentions of wanting to mug us, so we were left with a bad taste in our mouths for the town itself.  My mother was accosted at the ATM and they same person ran up to my son!  I had to jerk him away from the person.  My husband was not around but soon emerged from a shop.  When I told him what happen we looked around for the police as they had been monitoring the road we were on.  The whole aura of the town changed in that instance and felt empty to me...literally and figuratively.  The people on the streets cleared out quickly when the police came through.  Our walk back to the Bed and Breakfast was eery and methodical.  Todd walked about 50 feet behind my mother, son and I to make sure we weren't being followed.  We spent the rest of the night enjoying the Abermar Guest House and awoke to a wonderfully prepared breakfast.  I'd like to go back a record over that experience with some better ones, as I'm sure this was a strangely isolated incidence.

From Inverness, we headed back south stopping at a few distilleries on the way.  We drove through St. Andrews, which is a historical city (what's not?) with some great ruins.  We explored Ravenscraig Castle and spent the night in Dundee. We enjoyed dinner at a retro cafe on the water and dipped our toes in the River Tay (an inlet of the North Sea).  An early morning out brought us to Edinburgh where we spent the remainder of our time.

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