After being away for two years, I finally came back to London in early 2015.The travel bug bit me and I started to look for places where I could go. Due to visa reasons (As I have already explained in (THE TRIALS AND TRIBULATIONS OF HAVING AN INDIAN PASSPORT) I needed to wait to get the Schengen visa to visit Europe. Luckily, my current visa allows me to travel within the U.K. without needing any other visa, which meant that I could go Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland without any restrictions. So, I decided that I needed to start travelling ASAP and my first destination was SCOTLAND.
I had only a weekend available for this trip so I did some research and planned the trip with a friend. The two-day trip included two missions: to see the city of Edinburgh and to get lost in the beauty of the Scottish Highlands. I shall post about Edinburgh later. In this post, I want to talk about my experience in the Scottish countryside. I booked a one-day tour of the Highlands with the company, ‘Highland Experience tours’. The expenditure was around £48 (73$). For accommodation, we booked a hostel through Airbnb called Bobby’s Bunkhouse Hostel in the centre of Edinburgh city. The hostel cost was quite cheap (£14) since sleeping is the last thing which I do while on a trip. Hence wasting money on luxurious accommodations is not something which I prefer.
We boarded the tour bus from the High Street of Edinburgh early in the morning. Our tour guide and driver, Mr. Donald was dressed in the traditional Scottish gear. The weather that day wasn’t in our favour and dense fog took over the roads and the city. The fog prevented us from seeing the picturesque sceneries of the countryside. It was going to be a long day with more than 460miles to drive within 8-9 hours, including lots of sightseeing, lunch, cruise plans etc. My affection for the mountains is limitless and that was the reason why I was exceptionally excited for my upcoming experience. As we drove past the city life, beautiful mountains started to take over the view. Mr. Donald started telling us stories about the history of that place. Although I have never really had an interest in history, in that moment all those stories and facts sounded extraordinarily interesting and informative. Our first destination was The Cairngorm Mountains. The endless series of beautiful mountains, half covered in fog along with the pitter-patter of the drizzling rain made the drive just about perfect. I remember telling my friend how this was probably the best scenery my eyes had ever. You know how you fall in love with a certain place, the moment you lay your eyes on it? For me, that place was the Highlands.
Before our second stop at Inverness, we stopped for an hour in a small town located right between Inverness and Cairngorm for breakfast. The town was quite overpriced (A small Latte cost 4£) but given the location and situation, I think that I would have been ready to pay even 5£ for the coffee. We drove through Inverness, a beautiful city and the capital of the Highlands. The main attraction of the tour was yet to come: Loch Ness – famous for its beauty and the mysterious monster. In Scottish, the word ‘Loch’ means lake. We were ahead of our schedule when we arrived at Loch Ness and so we were given an opportunity to take a ‘monster spotting cruise trip’ into the Loch Ness as well as the famous Urquhart Castle. The best part was that all expenditures were covered within the tour package. The cruise took about an hour; sipping some Scottish whiskey, we enjoyed the beauty of the Loch Ness in the misty weather. We couldn’t spot the infamous ‘Loch Ness monster’ despite our best attempts. Ha-ha.
After lunch in Loch Ness, our next stop was a 2-hour drive away. Things were getting a little tiring as we had been on the road since early morning. Mr. Donald tried his best to keep everyone motivated and entrained throughout the journey with his funny Scottish accents, stories and interesting facts about the place. Loch Ness is famous, but the Scottish Highlands has many more Lochs and they all rate high on the scale of splendour. As we drove through the banks of the Loch Linnhe, we reached our next destination-Ben Navis. Ben Navis is Britain’s highest mountain and just below the Ben Navis is an exquisite war memorial. We stopped at the memorial to take pictures of the highest mountain in Britain, but the weather acted as interference. Most parts of the mountain were covered in fog, but we did get glimpses of the peak after waiting for some time. The long drive suddenly felt worth it and I was refreshed enough to venture ahead and see what else these mountains had to offer.
The last stop in this beautiful journey was the famous Glen Coe. There couldn’t have been a better ending than Glen Coe. Our guide told us how some of the famous T.V. series such as Game of Thrones, Merlin etc have been filmed in the mountains of Glen Coe. A major part of the Harry Potter series was also filmed within the same area. We also got a glance of the famous Hogwarts Express on our way back.
We returned to the city of Edinburgh late in the evening. The silence and beauty of the highlands were lost back in the chaos of the city. But there was a smile on our faces and a unique sense of silence in our hearts. It felt like we had driven through the heaven on earth and couldn’t believe what had just happened. A single day couldn’t have been more productive than a trip as this one; if you have less time and want to make full use of it, I would highly recommend you this trip without a second thought. You could thank me later, but a trip to Scotland is incomplete without visiting the Highlands.
Feel free to share your experience of the Highlands in the comments section. I would love to know about it and look forward to reading them.