Scotland is a “Sunday drive” in all directions. This is one gorgeously green country filled with castles and lochs (we were told never to call these bodies of water, lakes….it would insult the Scottish).
We drove out of Edinburgh last week and headed north to see a bit of the countryside. St Andrews was our first stop. This golf mecca and university town was bustling with holiday makers, most with 5 irons flung over their shoulders but bathed in sunshine and with a crowded beach, this place was very picturesque.
We based ourselves in Cove Bay, just south of Aberdeen, for two days, as we explored the northeast coast. We were lucky enough to attend the 122nd Dufftown Highland Games. The local park was teaming with competitors for the highland dancing, the shot put, tug of war, and the 12 pipe bands that played en mass into the field as the villages (and us) followed behind.
Then we headed to Inverness, the most northly city in our entire holiday. After driving through the highlands behind Balmoral and through the Cairngorm Mountains, we needed a break from the car. Hiring bikes in Inverness, we spent half a day cycling beside the beginning of Thomas Telfords wonderous Caledonian Canal. One of those engineering wonders of the world that make it possible to travel the 97km from Inverness in the northeast to Corpach in the southwest, through four Lochs and 29 locks. We also did the tourist thing and searched for Nessie on Lock Ness.
Driving south, rimming the lochs and then Ben Nevis, the highest mountain in the British Isles, our next point of call was Oban. We made a side trip to Glenfinnan with its magnificent and famous (a la Harry Potter) viaduct and the memorial that overlooks Loch Shiel.
Another day out of the car was warranted when we caught the ferry over to Mull and a rather interesting bus trip to the ferry to Iona. Mull is the second largest of the inner Hebrides. It has mostly single laned roads making it a bit of a hairy ride when it is full of tourist buses. Iona is also famous for its burial ground of Scottish, Norwegian and Irish kings but again, when the tourists leave, is a very tranquil and peaceful isle.
This leaves us with todays journey, past the mist covered Loch Lomand and the Trossachs National Park, to the town of Perth. We have been lucky with the weather but in the last few days, our umbrellas have been a necessary apparel.
Tomorrow we return the car to Edinburgh and catch the train to Glasgow. So begins our trip to the Commonwealth Games as they end on Sunday night. Watch for us at the Athletics on Friday night and the Closing Ceremony on Sunday night. We’ll be the ones with the umbrellas!