As soon as the school year finished back in June, Chris and I embarked on an exciting, week-long road trip to and through Scotland in our little blue Skoda (a.k.a. “Blueberry”). This trip would be a lot different from other road trips we’ve taken before however, because this time, we had some extra passengers… my parents!
My parents flew into Edinburgh, Scotland on Saturday and spent the day exploring the city on their own, while Chris and I made our way up from London. We first drove to the Lake District, a popular holiday destination in northern England.
We drove through some cute towns and down lots of long and windy country roads. We admired the beautiful lakes and lush, green mountains as we went. We even stopped to hike up a small hill to check out the views (and to take some glamour shots of “Blueberry” haha).
Chris and I spent that first night in a tiny town called Eskdale Green at a cozy B&B called Bower House Inn. There was a pub downstairs and farmland all around, so we spent an hour or so exploring before having a delicious meal in the restaurant downstairs. (I had a bean burger while Chris tried the lamb curry!).
The next morning, we set off (via the scenic route, of course) for Edinburgh, stopping along the way to check out some more beautiful views.
When we finally arrived in Edinburgh later that afternoon, we picked up my parents and headed to the nearby town of Falkirk, where we’d be staying for the night. On our way, we decided to stop and check out the Kelpies, two stainless steel sculptures measuring 30-metres high (about 100 feet) and over 300 tons each. (Wow!)
The sculptor, Andy Scott, designed the Kelpies “as a personification of local and national equine history, of the lost industries of Scotland.” He said, “I also envisage them as a symbol of modern Scotland – proud and majestic, of the people and the land. They are the culmination of cutting edge technology and hand crafted artisanship, created by our country’s leading experts through international partnerships.” (Source)
After seeing the Kelpies, we picked up some tapas-style munchies and headed to our serviced apartment for the night. We dined outside under the gazebo in the communal area. It was so great catching up with my parents – I hadn’t seen them in 6 months!!
On Monday, we got up early and had a quick breakfast of fruit, croissants, and coffee before driving to the Falkirk Wheel, which is a sort of elevator for canal boats (and more efficient than locks). It wasn’t open yet, so we just walked around and checked it out before hopping back in the car.
Next, we went to Stirling Castle and were some of the first people in line when they opened the gates. We were glad, too, because it started to get quite crowded after a bit!
After the castle, we grabbed lunch on beautiful Loch Venachar at a lovely restaurant with a fitting name called Venachar Lochside. We asked the hostess if we could sit at one of the outdoor tables overlooking the loch, but she informed us that they were all reserved.
We were confused. The place was absolutely empty. We picked a seat by the window so we could still enjoy the loch views and we ordered our meals. As we waited, the inside of the restaurant started to fill up, but the outside tables remained empty. “Strange,” one of us commented, “maybe a tour bus will come by and they’ve reserved all the tables…?”
Our wonderings were answered shortly after when we heard a loud humming. We looked out over the loch to see a sea plane descending. It landed in front of the restaurant and made the turn to pull into the dock. A group of about 8 passengers soon got off the plane, walked up the ramp to the restaurant, and seated themselves at the outside tables. Chris laughed, “Well I guess we were close – not quite a tour bus though!”
After a delicious loch-side lunch, we started navigating to the town of Pitlochry, where we’d be staying for the night.
Oh, but first – whisky. We stopped at Edradour Distillery where we went on a tour. I didn’t have any. We knew, going into this trip, that there would be lots of whisky stops and that I would be the DD… Good thing I was 5 months pregnant and don’t like whisky anyway! 😉
We checked into our hotel, then walked down the street to find some dinner. We had a tasty meal outside at The Old Mill pub, walked down the street some more, overheard some bagpipes playing at a local festival (quickly decided not to go), and checked out the town’s salmon ladder and hydroelectric dam before heading back to the hotel to get some shut eye.
In the morning, we hit the road again, heading toward Balmoral Castle by way of driving through Cairngorms National Park. On the way, we discovered Glenshee Ski Centre, which is one of Scotland’s largest ski areas. We decided to stop for a quick hike. (And by that, I mean we took the chairlift up and hiked back down haha!) It was a great pit stop!
Balmoral Castle, the Scottish home to the Royal Family, was our next relatively quick stop. We walked the grounds, soaked up some history, then hopped back in the car again.
Next, we stopped for some more whisky at The Glenlivet Distillery. This time, my parents and Chris opted not to take the tour, but rather to just enjoy a couple of “wee drams” (a term we’d learned at the last distillery!).
That evening, we stayed in a cute, little town called Grantown-on-Spey at a place called Strathallan Bed & Breakfast. We absolutely loved it! The owner, Isla, and her brother (who owned a B&B down the street) were so friendly and absolutely hilarious. The rooms were beautifully decorated and supplied with everything we could possibly need.
We grabbed dinner at a Bangladeshi restaurant that night (a new experience for my parents!) and got another “wee dram” (whisky) at the Craig pub. The enthusiastic and entertaining bartender Robbie helped us choose a nice dram, then we enjoyed a leisurely walk back to the B&B.
In the morning, we woke up in our beautiful Strathallan B&B rooms and moseyed downstairs for breakfast. The french toast and porridge Isla served us were absolutely delicious!
With our bellies beyond full, we happily packed up and headed out, ready to hit the road again. The notorious Loch Ness was next on our agenda and we couldn’t wait to get started!
Well, that’s all for this post… Stay tuned for our next posts about the rest of our Scottish road trip and our amazing hikes on the Isle of Skye! 🙂