After a few days in Edinburgh, we picked up a car and spent a week driving around the Scottish highlands – up through Stirling to Pitlochry, then Inverness, over to the Isle of Skye and back down again. Castles, forest, dramatic landscapes – the Highlands were just as incredible as I had been hoping. I mentioned before that Edinburgh is one of the most beautiful cities I’d ever seen – but it has nothing on beauty of the wilderness.
Some people seemed a little surprised that we were venturing north at this time of year – well past the high season during the summer. We were mostly pretty lucky in terms of weather though, with a bit of blue sky here and there and not too much rain. The trees have all turned glorious colours and the mountains are capped with snow, whilst remaining not too cold for me (dressed in all my wooly layers at least). We stayed in little B&B’s, most of which included their twist on a traditional Scottish breakfast, which we took full advantage of. I’ve developed a taste for black pudding, which is unexpected!
I’m going to write about the Isle of Skye separately, but aside from that my favourite place in the Highlands was the little town Pitlochry. We stayed in a gorgeous little B&B, had dinner in a warm and lively Scottish pub, took a walk through the pretty little town and through a colourful forest to the dam. We also did a tour of Scotland’s smallest whisky distillery, Edradour – ending up with a private tour led by a sweet little old lady (who huffed a little when we admitted we don’t really drink whisky), on account of us being the only ones there. We decided to only do one whisky tour in Scotland, and I’m glad we chose that one!
We ended up visiting quite a few castles (Stirling, Urquhat, Blair, Doune, Eilean Donan) – and whilst they are interesting, I think I most like taking photos from a bit of a distance rather than going inside. As most castles charge for entry, this is also a bit of a cheaper approach. I think my favourite might be Urquhat Castle, a ruin sitting on the edge of Loch Ness (sadly no sighting of Nessie), although I liked Blair Castle’s lavish interiors (plus they give you some whisky), and Doune Castle was used in this hilarious scene in Monty Python and the Holy Grail.
- Edradour Distillery in Pitlochry is Scotlands smallest distillery, and the only one that still does everything by hand. For that reason, it’s probably much more interesting than tours that just show a ton of machinery. It was a good introduction to whisky for us, and the whisky fudge is to die for.
- Plockton Inn in Plockton looks a bit unassuming, but the seafood we had there was fantastic. The Boy had smoked salmon and local prawns, whilst I had local hand-dived scallops. Plump, juicy and generous servings of really fresh seafood.
- Black pudding is part of the proper Scottish breakfast, and although a sausage made of blood doesn’t sound terribly enticing it’s actually really delicious. It has to be tried at least once, with a tattie scone and an egg.