A Travellerspoint blog

By this Author: Jimpat

Scotland

A side trip to the Isle of Skye

Today we headed southwest through more beautiful highland country. Some of the roads were single lane tracks, where it was necessary to pull off to let oncoming traffic pass. Heavy rain clouds developed as we neared the west coast, and as we crossed the bridge to the Isle of Skye the rain started and followed us up the island to Portree. Portree is the largest town on the island and we enjoyed our morning cappuccino there.

The Isle of Skye is best known for its rugged and dramatic landscapes, though today it just looked wet! As we had a lot of distance to cover, we headed back south across the bridge to the mainland, stopping briefly at Eilean Donan Castle. The enchanting castle was built in 1220 and holds the title of the most photographed castle in Scotland!

We passed through more spectacular highland country, and the weather improved to afford us nice views. By late afternoon we reached North Connel and our hotel. After we checked in, we headed to the lovely seaside town of Oban, where we enjoyed a nice seafood dinner.

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Along our drive on the Isle of Skye
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Along our drive on the Isle of Skye
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Along our drive on the Isle of Skye
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Along the harbour in Portree
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Harbour In Portree
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Enchanting Eilean Donan Castle
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Enchanting Eilean Donan Castle
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Enchanting Eilean Donan Castle
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View from our b&b window
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The harbour in Oban
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Oban

Posted by Jimpat 12:23 Comments (0)

Scotland

Inverness

Another beautiful day, and we headed north and west to see some more of the Scottish Highlands. We drove to the west coast, and stopped in the pretty village of Ullapool for a coffee. Just before arriving in Ullapool, Pat finally saw a herd of Highland Cattle, which she had been searching for since arriving in Scotland!

We then took a leisurely drive northward, through rugged mountains and moorland, and through foothills reminiscent of those around Longview, Alberta. It is startling to realize that our latitude here is almost 60 degrees north!

We continued on to the little seaside village of Tain, where we had a light lunch. On our way back to our B&B we had an afternoon rain shower, reminding us that we are in Scotland!

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Along our drive through the highlands
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Highland cattle
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Highland cattle
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An adorable highland calf
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So cute!
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Along our drive
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Along our drive
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Our view as we enjoyed our morning cappuccino
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Ullapool
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Along our drive

Posted by Jimpat 10:14 Comments (1)

Scotland

Across the Highlands

Today was a lovely sunny day (not, frankly, what we expected in Scotland!)

We headed west from our B&B, passing through Banochry and Aboyne. We took a detour to the little village of Tarland, where we stopped to see the Tomnaverie Stone Circle. This is an example of a recumbent stone circle, in which a recumbent stone is placed between two upright stones on the principal axis of the circle. Recumbent stone circles are found exclusively in NE Scotland and SW Ireland.

We continued westward, passing Balmoral Castle, a private residence of the British Royal Family. We continued on to Braemar, where we stopped for coffee.

We continued our journey, crossing through the Cairngorms Nation Park, and stopped for a light lunch in Tomintoul.

We then headed north to Cawdor Castle, where we stopped for a tour of this stately home, parts of which date back to the 15th Century (and which is not related to Shakespeare’s “Macbeth”).

Upon leaving Cawdor, we came upon a highway accident, and were forced to detour through the countryside on one lane tracks. This would have been straightforward enough, but for the fact that traffic from the other side of the accident was also trying to detour via this route!

In late afternoon we arrived at our next B&B, just outside of Inverness. For dinner we ventured in to Inverness and, after several abortive attempts to find parking, enjoyed a nice pizza. We can not get over how lucky we have been with weather!

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View of the village of Tarland
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Tomnaverie Stone Circle
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View of area near Tarland
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Tomnaverie Stone Circle
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Highland view
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Cawdor Castle
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Cawdor Castle
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View from along our drive
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A pretty spot along our drive.

Posted by Jimpat 10:14 Comments (0)

Scotland

Off to see more castles

Today we started our day at the magnificent ruins of the birthplace of Mary Queen of Scots, Linlithgow Palace. The palace was built and added to over two centuries by the Stewart kings, resulting in a superb Renaissance residence. Linlithgow Palace stands on a low hill above a small inland loch. The Palace today lies roofless and ruined, but as you enter the palace it still inspires awe and you feel as you’ve gone back in time. We thoroughly enjoyed climbing up the high towers and wandering through the ancient rooms of this amazing old palace.

Then we headed off to nearby Blackness Castle. Blackness is a 15th Century fortress located on the banks of the Firth of Forth. It served as a harbour for nearby Linlithgow Palace, and as a Royal residence in its own right. It also served as a state prison, housing both common prisoners (in areas subjected to tidal flooding), and high-ranking political prisoners (in considerable luxury). In fact, one of Jim’s ancestors, the 8th Lord Maxwell, was imprisoned here in 1577. It was also featured in the Outlander series.

We then enjoyed a lovely drive along the Fife Coastal road to the seaside town of St. Andrews. We had a light lunch in town before we explored the ruins of St. Andrew’s Castle. St Andrews Castle was the official residence of the Archbishops of St Andrews, dating in part from the 13th century.

From St. Andrew’s we drove along the coast to our last castle of the day, Dunottar Castle. The castle is a ruined medieval fortress located upon a rocky headland on the northeastern coast of Scotland. We walked along the coastal bluffs and took photos of this amazing old castle. Then we checked into our B&B before heading out for dinner.

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Linlithgow Palace
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Linlithgow Palace
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Linlithgow Palace
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Linlithgow Palace

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Linlithgow Palace
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Linlithgow Palace
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Linlithgow Palace
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Linlithgow Palace
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Blackness Castle
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Blackness Castle
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Blackness Castle
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Blackness Castle
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St. Andrew’s Castle
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Dunottar Castle
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Dunottar Castle
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Dunottar Castle

Posted by Jimpat 10:01 Comments (0)

Scotland

Castles

Today was one of the few rainy days we have seen on our entire trip, but it did not dampen our spirits.

We picked up our rental car, and hit the road to Stirling. Once we reached Stirling we had a cappuccino, and then headed to Stirling Castle. This Castle was much different from Edinburgh Castle - Edinburgh Castle served principally as a military fortress in its later years, while Stirling Castle served more as a Royal residence. Parts of Stirling Castle have been substantially restored, affording the opportunity to appreciate how it looked in its day, including the ceiling of the king’s bedchamber with its famous Stirling Heads.

We then decided to visit Doune Castle. We did not realize until we arrived that Doune Castle was a filming location for “Monty Python and the Holy Grail”, and “Outlander”. Though appearing unassuming from the outside, the interior gives a good impression of Castle life in the 14th Century.

We proceeded on to Linlithgow, and the sun came out in time to give us a great view across the loch from our B&B to the imposing Linlithgow Palace. We had dinner in a pub in Linlithgow.
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Stirling Castle
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A bit of rain!
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Stirling Castle

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Ceiling in the king’s bedchamber at Stirling Castle
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Stirling Castle
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Doune Castle
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Doune Castle
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Doune Castle
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Doune Castle
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Doune Castle
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Doune Castle

Posted by Jimpat 09:37 Comments (0)

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