Delays for my flight from Dublin to Edinburgh thanks to all the snow, so I arrived after dark and crashed at the hostel shortly after getting in, forgetting to even eat dinner. The first day of the Haggis Adventures tour was an early start to get to the meeting point of the 5 day Highland Fling tour of the Scottish Highlands. I was still feeling a bit worse for wear after my 4 wild days in Dublin but keen to begin another adventure. Luckily the sky was clear and the sun was shining. Perfect conditions for starting off the trip.
As we drove along, we all swapped seats to chat and get to know the people we would be traveling along with over the next 5 days. I met a few others who’d also been in Dublin, on Shamrocker tours, for the St Patrick’s Day celebrations.
Over the following 5 days there were so many stops at various places through the Scottish Highlands, I’ve lost track of what was where and when. It was a blur of beautiful landscapes, stories and exploring. One of the biggest highlights of the week for me (along with seeing the amazing Scottish landscape unfold before my eyes) was getting to see and stay by Loch Ness, a place I’ve wanted to visit since I was a child. Unfortunately there were no sightings of Nessie this time.
In no particular order some of the many stop offs and sights around Scotland included; exploring the Isle of Skye in the Scottish gloom and rain, seeing many castles-some which were used in films like James Bond-hiking through forests and woods, trying Haggis (and I didn’t hate it), Scottish dancing and drunken adventures. The bus group polishing off a bottle of Tomatin Highland Whiskey in 10 minutes (This happened on the first day, after visiting the Tomatin Whiskey Distillery-so much for not drinking on this trip!). Hiking into Glencoe to take in the amazing views, I would have happily continued hiking through there the scenery was just stunning! We drove past many a snow covered mountain, standing tall and white under blue skies. Hiking to view points of Waterfalls, exploring Inverness and other small Scottish towns for lunch stops, even had Haggis Pie for lunch one of the days.
We were told Scottish stories, facts and folklore along with visiting many historical sites, some that once held great battles. I wasn’t keen, but many dunked their faces into a freezing cold river in the hopes of reviving their youthful looks. Each night I tried a Scottish beer or cider as we relaxed at the hostels playing games (between Ireland and Scotland this trip turned into a week long bender for me). We drove along the Nevis mountain range, which has Ben Nevis, the highest peak in the Uk. I’m determined to go back to Scotland next year to hike up it.
I just couldn’t, and still can’t, get over how stunning the Scottish Highlands are! I couldn’t look away from the bus window as we drove through it, wanting to see everything, absorb it all. If it weren’t for the cooler weather I would definitely move to Scotland.
We stopped at a number of sites used in films, drove past many lochs and rivers. Took breaks in quaint towns and just took in as much as possible over the 5 days. We were so fortunate that Lee, our Scottish tour guide and bus driver, was a fountain of knowledge and full of funny stories. It may have been a small tour group but each person made it an awesome group to explore Scotland with.
Scotland, you are most definitely a country I NEED to get back to and explore further!