Saturday, 14 April 2012

A short trip to Scotland

I've been away for a few days - I finally achieved one of my goals and went to Scotland. I've never been and have spent a fair amount of time wondering why not. Anyway, I booked flights to Edinburgh at the end of January and then promptly forgot about planning anything else. It resulted in a slight panic when I realised I had no idea what I was doing so I booked some nights in a hostel in Edinburgh and 2 nights in a hostel in Stirling and then left the rest up to chance...

I totally lucked out in Edinburgh. Not only is it an absolutely gorgeous city, but I met people in the first few minutes of my arrival who I then spent the rest of my time in Edinburgh with. We went on a walking tour of the city, up and down the Royal Mile, down to the Scottish Parliament and Holyrood House, out on the town for drinks and giggles and walked up to Arthur's Seat as well. I had such a fabulous time in Edinburgh I didn't want to leave it...

Walking in Greyfriar's Cemetary

Edinburgh Castle

View from halfway up to Arthur's Seat. 

However, my other motive for going to Scotland was, ultimately, to see a loch and some mountains. So I said goodbye to the wonders of the city on Monday morning and took myself off to Stirling. Yes, Stirling. That renowned place of lochs and mountains. OK, I clearly hadn't done my research - I got to Stirling in the pouring rain only to discover that a) my hostel was more family based than single traveller based so I was unlikely to meet any new friends and b) Loch Lomond, which I was planning on visiting from Stirling, is actually nowhere near there. In fact, I'd need to travel for a few hours to have some hope of seeing it. Oh well. I decided to go and see Stirling Castle and the William Wallace memorial instead. As well as getting incredibly wet, I also saw some really breathtaking views of the countryside and had a great walk (one of those ones where you know you'll ache in a good way the next day). I got back to the hostel about 5 hours later and, after going to what could possibly be the worst bar in the world, managed to hook up with the guys who ran the hostel who took me to a much better place where there was some live music and a great atmosphere. I ended up having a really great time.

Walking towards the William Wallace Memorial (that's the tower you can see) 

View from Stirling Castle

Looking down from the William Wallace memorial

On Tuesday I got up at the crack of dawn to get a train to Glasgow, followed by a train to Balloch, followed by a bus to Balmaha on the shores of Loch Lomond. It took me over 2 hours but I was definitely rewarded - snow-capped mountains around a beautiful loch! Yup, definitely the reason I came to Scotland. It was stunning. It was also raining, so on the advice of the friendly people in the visitor centre I scrapped my plan of climbing the hill (mainly because of return bus times) and got a ferry over to Inchcailloch, an island near the shore. For some reason, every time I got somewhere interesting in Scotland it always stopped raining - Arthur's Seat, William Wallace Memorial and Inchcailloch. Thank goodness it didn't rain while I was on the island as there were no houses or shelters, just loads of trees and some interesting walks. I went up to the summit and looked over the loch, saw some deer (too slow to get a photo though) and plenty of birds and worried about whether my ferry man would actually come and pick me up as promised. He did, thank goodness and I got back to Balmaha alright, where I promptly went and got a cup of tea and possibly the world's largest scone ever seen. Mmmmmm. I got back to Stirling at about 6 having had to repeat the whole journey in reverse. But it was definitely worth it - I absolutely loved the loch and the island.

About to get on a ferry to Inchcailloch

From Inchcailloch island. You can just see some snow-capped mountains in this.

Sadly, all good things come to an end and by Wednesday I had to return to Edinburgh to get my flight home. I left my case at the station so I could wander around all day but other than a short trip up to the castle and a search for a post office, I spent more of my time on the last day in Edinburgh sat in the sunshine or in cutesy little boutiques trying on summer dresses. There are some seriously cute dresses in Edinburgh... I finally had to leave though so made my way back to the airport. Just in time as it happens as there was then a huge rainstorm and I was really glad not to be out in it!

Anyway, I've had an amazing few days, met some lovely people, seen some stunning sights and had an all-round excellent time. I will definitely be returning to Scotland - I just can't work out why it's taken me so long to get there in the first place!

Loch Lomond and Mountains

p.s. sorry... I'm a bit addicted to instagram at present and haven't managed to get photos off my 'big' camera yet...!


PoetessWug said...

How exciting! :-] Thanks for sharing your trip with us. I have an Irish/Scottish last name and yet...have also never been to Scotland! ^_^ I loved seeing the photos. Now...where to next?! ^_^

Creating Trouble said...

For me, it's going to be Ireland I'm off to next... Still haven't visited Dublin either!

LinniR said...

enjoyed your blog. I'd recommend Dublin next, you'll like it. @linnirsbooks


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