Scotland: The Return

I have Perdida by STP playing on my train ride back to London from Edinburgh. It was a month after my Christmas trip that we had this second one planned. We all know how miserable I was after that first trip but I’m happy to say that I’ve recovered and this second trip had definitely helped a lot. I’m going back to Maidenhead feeling refreshed and content rather than feeling like I’ve lost something. 

I feel like trips like these are the easiest to plan… mainly because there’s not much to plan. Had to book the train, book the accommodation, book the car, set up the trip’s playlist (which is the hardest bit) and wing it. 

Day 1

London > Edinburgh

Tuesday night, I went into London and stayed over at Emy’s flat. Around 5am, we left for King’s Cross and arrived in Edinburgh at 10am for Room and Rumour’s doughnuts. We then headed to Basel’s to drop Emy and our luggage off as they had to work. 

Sarah and I then went around Edinburgh as the weather was too good to stay in. We walked to Dean’s Village, around Stockbridge, down the Royal Mile before grabbing pizza and heading back to the flat via Edinburgh’s ‘Hyde Park’. Must say though, we got extremely jealous of all the students living their best lives, having BBQs and just enjoying the sun. 

We had a booking at Tiger Lily that evening. But instead of directly going, we headed up to Calton Hill to see the sunset and what a sunset it was! Tiger Lily was alright, the roti canai was such a big disappointment! I was expecting something authentic but it seemed like it came out of a packet. Although, the curry that came with it wasn't too bad. We then managed to get to Joelato in time for the best ice cream - which I was dying for but I told the team that I didn't mind if we couldn't make it in time to have some (when in reality, I've been wanting it since December). 

We then walked to the castle - which I hadn't done previously... or if I had done so, I was too young to remember. I wanted to drop by Cold Town House but they were fully booked - it was a weekday?!

Day 1 

Edinburgh > Glasgow > Tarbet > Falls of Falloch > Tyndrum > Fort William > Dunvegan

Onto the next morning, I have a strong memory of me waking up super early, excited about going up to the highlands. I ended up giving up on trying to go back to sleep around 7-ish and decided to just get ready. We picked up the car - it was a Kia Niro, and it wasn't too shabby of car - I'll tell you all about it towards the end!

And then we were off! Unlike our previous road trip, we hadn't struggled in trying to get the car, missing the train or filling it up. Phewh. Emy brought a karaoke mic and I think everyone enjoyed a bit of that. We did a quick grocery run in Glasgow to pick up snacks for the road before heading to our first planned stop - Tarbet. We parked by the lake and got our first taster of what's to come. As usual, you can't stop by a lake without doing some pebble skipping and so it began. 

We drove further up and stopped by the Falls of Falloch because I can't resist anything that has something to do with waterfalls. It was a pretty easy stop - and not much of a walk to get to the falls. Once we had manifested the energy from the waterfall, we continued our journey when people started getting hungry. We tried our best to locate a grocery shop but as it is up there, you don't get many choices. However, at that point, I wasn't hungry enough to justify eating indoors and was really keen on having lunch with a view.

We got pretty lucky! Due to a push on getting hot food, we came across a cute cafe with outdoor seating called the Artisan Cafe near Tyndrum. As I was having it outside, I ended up eating my soup with a flat wooden spoon. Not complaining though as it was all worth it because we got to see a flock of sheep jumping and running from one bit of land to the other. It's like all good things happen in the highlands, either that or I appreciate things a bit more when I'm up there. 

Next stop was Fort William to get ourselves food for the rest of the trip and we obviously had a few stops on the way there because it was too beautiful to not. We continued the journey to our cottage. At one point, I realised that it was getting dark but I was unable to comprehend timings just because, in my head, we shouldn't have spent that long on the drive up. We left at 9.30AM, the whole drive up was meant to take 6 hours - so it must've meant that we spent 5 hours just stationary. Therefore, take that into consideration when planning a drive up there. 

When we got to the Isle of Skye, Basel pointed out some lava-ish looking things up the mountains. I ignored it and swept it aside but then we realised that something was happening and it isn't normal. We stopped by the road, had a relevant song playing (about fire) and concluded that it was indeed a wild fire. That didn't help us getting to the cottage before it got too dark though - because it was pitch black at one point of the drive. 

As soon as we got to the cottage, we had some pretty good steak, watched a movie that I was unable to brain and went to bed. 

Day 2

Dunvegan > Neist Point Lighthouse > Talisker > Oyster Shed > Talisker Bay Beach > Fairy Pools

As usual, I woke up pretty early - excited about the day. I made myself some tea, brought my duvet out to the conservatory and watched the sky get brighter as the clouds started to clear up. This also gave me some time to actually plan the day. Had decided that we'd explore the west side of Skye. I made breakfast as it was the only contribution I could offer, but at the same time there was a bit of a drama because I didn't wait for everyone to have breakfast together and instead had it on my own... Anyway, I learnt and I didn't do it again.

We headed out around 10 onto our first stop of the day - the Neist Point Lighthouse. Whilst Emy and Sarah decided to go down the cliff and around to the lighthouse, I decided to not and Basel seemed to have the same idea. However, because they went down and told us that there was a lighthouse on the other side of the cliff, I did a bit of exploring and found it - but without the trouble of having to go down and climb all the way up. Unfortunately, it was pretty cloudy and I found it too late to have been able to wait for the sky to clear up. The view from the cliff was beautiful enough though so I was feeling quite content.

Our next stop was meant to be Talisker Distillery, but because there are ongoing renovations, we weren't able to go in so we headed straight to lunch. The Oyster Shed - and I must say, it was a pretty awesome lunch spot - everyone enjoyed it. It would've been better if there were seats but one shall not complain when there is good food. We then went to get coffee before heading to Talisker Bay Beach. I wasn't expecting it to be a walk from the car park, but it wasn't too bad. Luckily, it didn't disappoint as it was a black sand beach and our 10 year old self may have come out a bit there. 

Unable to stay long due to the fairy pools being next, we made our way there and was glad we had some time to spend. As our inner child started to come out, we did a thing where we unnecessarily got ourselves stuck in mud just for the sake of it. Whilst I definitely ruined my shoe, Basel had it worse and nearly lost his. We then went to explore the actual bits of the fairy pools and what a beauty. Swear down, if I were a guy and appropriately dressed, I would've swam in. The pools were blue and clear and it was just... I can't describe it. I dipped my feet in it though but you've got to go there and experience it. 

We ended the day a bit early but still dead tired from what I remember. Can't remember what we had for dinner but this is why I take pictures of everything - I'm so disappointed at this point as I can't recall a single thing and I don't have photos to remind me. 

Day 3

Bride's Veil Falls > Storr > Lealt Falls > Kilt Rock & Mealt Falls >  An Corran Beach > Sligachan Old Bridge > Lealt Falls > Sunset Drive > Stargazing 

We're at that point of the blog where you'd know I woke up pretty early. This time though, I decided to get ready and go out for a bit of a tree climbing session. Back in Nottingham, we weren't able to find a climbable enough tree but there was one in the garden of this cottage. And so, I went for it, got stuck, saw more sheepies and then gathered some courage to climb back down. Luckily, all I needed was a bit of confidence because I was so close to asking someone for help and that would've been embarrassing (because why would you climb a tree knowing that you can't get down!). When everyone was up, breakfast was ready and this time around, I had waited for everyone before I ate.

Our first stop was Bride's Veil Falls - it was marked on my map but because everything was just off the road, I hadn't purposely planned it as a stop. Basel spotted it so we stopped. Did a quick walk around, crossed the river, dropped a phone in the river (and got it on camera) before heading back to the car to hike up Storr. 

Now... this one wasn't part of the plan. I hadn't intended to hike neither did I want to. But majority wins, and so we did. I've now noted that I shall do a bit more exercising prior to our next trip. When we were up there, I had opened a new bearbrick! I forgot to bring one on my previous trip I learn from my mistakes. And so, we had Mike Alexander V, apparently born in Toronto (?) in 1895 (?) join us on the trip from then on... my memory isn't great, I had probably gotten both the place and dates wrong. But Mike is so fitting to the trip - he's a little deer! 

We headed down and drove to Lealt Falls... there's a viewing platform where we saw the falls, but it wasn't that great because the railings on the platform was blocking the whole view. However, we headed towards the cliff where we were able to see the cliff edge, the beach, the mountains in the distance and hear the waterfall - now, that was a good spot. Next was the Kilt Rock & Mealt Falls - this again, was a bit touristy based on the fact that there was railings along the edges and you could hardly see the falls. Was it beautiful? Yes. Would've I spent all day there? No. 

It was then time for lunch, I didn't have anything planned and there wasn't any food available anywhere. We got directions (wink) from a couple of policemen and ended up at a grocery shop where we bought bread, cream cheese, salmon and other bits to make sandwiches from. Headed to An Corran Beach (wasn't that great of a spot to be completely honest) but we got the picnic mat out and had lunch. As soon as it got cold, we headed back in the car and did the remaining round trip around the north part of Isle of Skye.

We missed out on Quiraing as there wasn't enough time to do the hike so we headed to Sligachan to have a look at it before heading back to Lealt Falls because Basel couldn't have enough of that place. To be fair, it was very difficult to leave because it was too beautiful, with the colours in the sky and the sound from the ocean. The drive back during sunset, though, was too too beautiful. Perdida by Stone Temple Pilots now have a special place in my heart - my favourite video of the drive had that song in the background and I haven't been able to stop watching it. 

Now... onto my highlight of the trip. When we got near the cottage, it was pretty clear that I was going to get to stargaze and Oh. Was. I. Excited. We stopped by the lake and it was dark enough to start seeing the stars. We then headed back to the cottage and instead of heading in and settling down. I cheated a bit and left Sarah and Emily to do the cooking. I got the picnic mat out, got my duvet out and laid down outside and stargazed. It was such a feeling, I can't describe it. I then headed in for dinner and before we went to bed, Emily, Sarah and I went outside to stargaze again. The stars were endless, it was as if we were in a planetarium - it didn't feel real, it didn't seem real but it was! We had a pretty deep conversation out there about life too... thank goodness for warm duvets!

Day 4

Dunvegan > Loch Lochy > Bridge Cafe (Spean Bridge) > Laggan Dam > House of Bruar > Forth Bridge (Queensferry) > Edinburgh

We had an hour less of sleep due to the daylight saving time but breakfast was great if I hadn't had a pre-breakfast prior to the loaded pizza being ready. And we were headed off, back to Edinburgh. Obviously, no one wanted to leave but it was not a choice that we could make as we had work to go back to. In saying that, it was definitely a choice that we could have made and a 'work from elsewhere' trip might just come up in the second half of the year. 

We dropped by Loch Lochy and was mesmerised by the beauty - the reflection on the water was breathtaking. Basel did an impressive pebble skip - most number of pebble skips to date and we had a bunch of pretty funny photos taken there. Unfortunately, I respect people's privacy and I'm unable to post them. We dropped by Bridge Cafe where we got ourselves coffee and lunch to take to Laggan Dam, it was pretty great - the sun was shining, the sky was clear.

We drove on and started arguing about where we stopped last time to build my little snowman.. It looked quite different in the sun compared to when it was in the snow. Indeed, you could go up to the highlands a million times and it'll look different every time. Once we got to the motorway, Basel discovered the coolest thing on earth. The car apparently had smart cruise control - so the car manoeuvred following the road and all things like that. Essentially, all you needed to do was keep your hands on the wheel, but not do anything - it did all the driving automatically. I've never used cruise control before so it was pretty impressive to see how one could be used at its full potential. Get a Kia Niro!

We stopped at Bruar for ice cream and a quick walk up to the waterfall. I had experienced the unfortunate event of seeing people naked... ruined it a bit for me but it was what it was. We continued on our journey, watched Formula 1 in the car and decided detour to Forth Bridge. We got the picnic mat out, sat at a spot where we could see the bridges and had the phone set down to watch Max win the Saudi Grand Prix. It was pretty intense those last few laps. And watching it with a Ferrari fan made it feel better because Max did not disappoint. 

Headed back when the race was over and arrived at 9-ish in Edinburgh. We had some thai food and watched IT: Chapter 2. I probably only saw 10% of it because I was falling asleep throughout. 

Day 5 was a short one, our train was at 4PM and I spent the whole day dozing off... as much as I tried to stay awake. The ladies hiked up Arthur's Seat though but I was full on just dead. 

I must say, we acted a bit more like grown ups this time around, our inner child didn't come out as much and we all behaved. It was a very fulfilling trip, I came back to Maidenhead feeling content and I'm extremely excited about our next trip. But we'll start looking into that once I come back from Malaysia - leaving in 2 weeks. YAAAAAY.


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