Our favorite excursion from our "home bases" of Edinburgh and Glasgow was our day trip through the Highlands. We fit a whole mess of things in just a mere 20 hours. For this post, I'm going to follow the way we went, starting from the south, heading north to Loch Ness, then heading back south by the eastern way. There are some stops, such as Stirling Castle, that we only drove by during this day trip but were able to investigate more on another tour. In those cases, I'll be skipping over those details to save them for another post when I talk about the Lowlands.
For now, let's start with pure silliness in the form of a 1970s movie from a British comedy troupe. (I promise I'll get to the Highlands right after I goof off here for a second.) We did a short stop at Doune Castle, which is where Monty Python's Flying Circus filmed scenes for The Holy Grail. It took all the power within me to not reenact scenes from the movie. (Like the one below. Can you tell I'm am Python nerd?)
People congregate in the small village next to Doune Castle every September for Monty Python Day where the take the time to reenact scenes from the movie. This is complete with costumes and props and makes my heart melt with happiness.
The scene was so large I had to take 4 photos and stitch them together. I kept the lighting differences to show just how quickly the weather/sun can change in Scotland. These were all taken at the same exposure, spot, and only a few second apart.
A small town called Callander marks the edge of the Highlands where you can see a fast changes in the scenery. Once you get into the Highlands, the landscape seems to change every few miles. In driving through this land, I had a lot of fun listening to our guide's stories about Rob Roy MacGregor and other Highland clans such as the Campbells. There are certain parts of the area that are still very anti-Clan Campbell thanks to an incident that occurred 320 years ago called the Massacre of Glencoe.
The story is different depending on who you talk to, but the basic gist is that the Campbells broke an unspoken law of the land called Highland Hospitality. The weather in the Highlands can change so drastically in a matter of seconds, leading to dangerous situations that the clans of the area came up with an agreement that no matter if a group of travelers are friend or foe, you must give them safe shelter in bad weather. The safety from attack is suppose to be equal on both sides, which is where the Campbells went wrong, by proxy. While guests under Highland Hospitality, they had several MacDonald clan members killed in their sleep. Again, this is super shortened and simplified. If you are interested in this story, I would highly suggest you investigate more.
We kept traveling north and when we got through Fort William we saw Ben Nevis, which is Britain's highest mountain. We then arrived at Fort Augustus, a town on the southern shore of Loch Ness. We spent about 2 hours in in Fort Agustus and I was pleasantly surprised by the town. I'll be talking more about it and Loch Ness and in my next post. For now, lets head south to Cairngorms National Park where we took a break to admire the mountains and sheep. It was lambing season, so needless to say, I was bowled over by the adorable baby sheep frolicking everywhere.
For my return to Edinburgh, we passed by a lot of things, such as Loch Laggan (known better as the home in Monarch of the Glen), Drumochter Pass, Blair Castle, Pitlochry (a ton that was vastly popular during Victorian tourism), Perthshire forest, and Loch Leven. So, yes, a lot was done in a mere day and we were tired people at the end of it, but it was well worth it. We did the tour through Rabbies (odd name, good experience). So if you see their name come up while doing searches for tours, we found them to be quite good.
I will leave you now with a little video I made of the landscape of Cairngorms National Park, just outside of Loch Ness. The scenery was such that a photo couldn't capture all, so I had to do video of the panoramic.
Until next time,