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Scotland: Edinburgh And Beyond

Edinburgh to Oban

Yesterday morning was up “bright” and early to make my way to the Haggis Adventures office on High Street. Was so paranoid about oversleeping that I did not sleep well and ended up being first there. It was only by a short time, though, literally less than a minute.

By 8:30am, we were all checked in and loaded up on the bus. Our bus is mostly Australians, Kiwis (New Zealanders), and Americans. The age range is wild, from 18 to 70-something, but honestly, the 70-something year old German couple are way outside the norm range for the trip. There are plenty in my age bracket as well, not that it seems to matter much. I’m amused by questions about what my major is… uhm… a job…

The trip up from Edinburgh to Oban was incredible. The first stop, granted, was in Stirling. And I had been there last time, but as luck would have it, our only stop was to see the Wallace Monument, the one thing I had not squeezed in last time. Score!

From there, we snaked our way in and out of Glens and Lochs and Lochons (Valleys, Lakes, and little Lakes) for hours. My absolute favorite of the lot was Glen Coe. Just an incredible place. I don’t know how to describe it. Just imagine snow-capped peaks all around you you, gorgeous valley, and water trickling down from all these tiny little falls into little streams at the bottom. It was just drop dead beautiful. Cold, but beautiful. The first day we really were treated to phenom weather. Bright sunshine all day “Long.” Granted that was why it was cold, but it was incredible. The sights I saw really made me want to come back sometime. I would love to travel at my own pace, even though I’m afraid my own pace, stoppinge every 5 minutes for the next view would allow me to travel about 5 miles a day.

There is a highland walking trail that our guide, Rab, mentioned, that is from Glasgow to Fort William. Supposedly takes about 5 days, but I suspect that’s in fairly good physical condition. I also gathered, but as the opportunity doesn’t exist now anyway, that it also probably involves some full-on living on the trail.

We arrived in Oban, which I know little about. It was more a stopping point than anything, and it was pitch black when we got there. After we unloaded into our Hostel, which probably had a gorgeous waterfront view (you know, in the daylight), the bulk of the group wandered down into the town to find food. Fifteen of us proved to big for anything that was open, but while a group of us waited on a street corner while others inquired within the various restaurants, Oban got Mark’s totally random award. A guy from a pub leaned out, and in his best Darth Vader voice said, “Luke, I am your father!” And shortly afterwards, a guy parked in his truck, started making car noises like a five year old… and laughing hysterically at us… It was… truly random.

Group ended up splitting up and going our separate ways for awhile. Group I was with did Indian. Despite having been to London several times, I never worked up the nerve to try it, but I’m here to say that not only did I survive the Chicken Curry and rice, it was quite good. Was a late night, and we had to be loaded up by 8:30am to head out… so I never did see Oban in the daylight.

Oban to Skye

Day two started out promising, a bit overcase, but the sun was trying to shine through. It did not try hard enough. The morning quickly turned to a drizzle with periodic gusts of wind. We drove up to Fort William, stopping for some scenery along the Great Glen (a series of Lochs that cut through the top of Scotland). Fort William was lunch (quite dull Subway, but totally hit the spot), and then we checked out some of the surroundings. Turns out that Fort William is the outdoor capitol of the UK. If there’s an outdoor sport you’re into, Fort William is your place. And it’s also supposed to be a great base for exploring Northern Scotland. Totally will remember that in the future! While there, we saw Glenfinnan, where Bonnie Prince Charlie began a campaign to retake Britain that very nearly succeeded, the last of the Great Rebellions, and then saw Glen Nevis, an incredible place even in blowing rain, where scenes from Braveheart were filmed as well as some Harry Potter scenes (can’t say much on the latter). Oh, and we never quite got to see the top, but we saw Ben Nevis, highest point in Britain, where apparently they average 30 deaths per year from climbers who underestimate this mountain.

We made a couple of stops on the way up to Skye, Eileen Donan (a lovely castle) and Loch Gary (gorgeous loch shaped like Scotland). All these were pretty much dusk or afterwards, so not so sure my photos will do much justice, but we’ll see.

Arrived on Isle of Skye in the dark, but we are staying here two nights, so I will see more of it! Different deal with this hostel. Closed to everyone in the winter, except these tours. So, we’re the only ones here. Spent the evening in a pub next door called Saucy Marys. Almost everyone there was from the tour, so you have to wonder how they stay open off season. There may have been a few locals, but I’m not sure. Despite the opportunity to have a burger, I had Toad in the Hole. It was okay. Nothing exciting and definitely don’t let it get cold. Kind of a sausage wrapped in a bread and topped with gravy. Definitely British food. It tasted better warm and I dawdled too much while eating it.

Shortly off to bed. Keep good thoughts for a dryer day tomorrow!

I’m sure there’s tons I’ve forgotten to talk about. Since the net has been a sporadic luxury, I’ve tried to keep some notes, but of course don’t have them with me. Here’s one piece of info. from yesterday that I thought was funny. If you’re ever driving through a place in Scotland called Kilmahog – that is not the lost southern link to Scotland. It has nothing to do with killing anyone’s hog, yours or mine. Apparently something to do with a church according to the guide. Don’t quote me on that. I was just glad that I was not the one that asked it and the guide said others had thought the same thing.

Back to your lives now!

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