Saturday, May 27, 2017

Return to Roots in Scotland


We visited Scotland in May, 2017.

The Bridge to Nowhere ...


Scotland is the land of castles and lakes. Let's start with the lakes first.

Highlands and Lakes

 

There are many lakes (lochs) in Scotland. The two most famous ones are the Loch Lomond and Loch Ness. If you have heard of the Loch Ness Monster, then the Loch Ness is already on your wish list I guess. Note that the two lakes are quite long, and there are multiple points along the lake where you can stop to enjoy the views. Some of them, e.g. Inverness, have been converted into tourist hot spots with their many restaurants, cafes and hotels.

the many lakes of Scotland

 

The 2 lakes are actually a bit far from each other - so difficult to cover in a day. If you e.g. look at all the day tours available from Edinburgh, the 2 lakes are covered in different tours. So the recommended way is to cover (Highlands and Loch Ness) in one day, and the (Loch Lomond and Stirling Castle) on a different day. This will of course assuming that you are staying at Edinburgh, and will vary if you are e.g. staying at Inverness. Even with a day tour, be prepared for many hours of driving as in a 9-hour day trip, you will mostly be driving 2/3rds of it.

Enjoy some pics below of the 2 lakes:

Lakes of Scotland
A stroll in the Loch Lomond Natural Reserve


Highlands


If you are visiting Scotland, you of course cannot miss the Scottish Highlands. If you are a Bond fan, you will probably remember the amazing landscape from Skyfall where Bond stops with M on their way to his ancestral home. 

The highlands are easily accessible from Edinburgh - approx. 1.30 hours drive. The place to target is Glencoe. The drive to Glencoe is very scenic with glimpses of the impressive landscape all along the way. The roads are usually quite deserted, which coupled with the amazing landscape really gives you the "end of the world" feeling!


Amazing landscape of the Scottish Highlands 
The lone explorer

Castles

 

The city of Edinburgh looks straight out of a Medieval century film set - check out the pic below. No wonder it is the filming location of many such shows, e.g. Braveheart, Outlander, Game of Thrones, and the inspiration behind Harry Potter's Hogwarts.


The grand Balmoral Hotel


There are 2 main castles in the vicinity - the Edinburgh Castle and Stirling Castle, which is located slightly outside Edinburgh. Actually 3, if you count Doune castle (again, slightly outside Edinburgh), which you would remember if you are a Monty Python fan.

 
The Stirling castle is quite impressive, to say the least. Standing on a hill, it offers impressive views of the city of Edinburgh. 2-3 hours should be sufficient to explore the castle. It was raining quite heavily the day we visited the castle, like most days it would seem; so don't forget your umbrella on any visit to the UK/Scotland. Enjoy a few rain washed pictures of the castle in the meantime :)


View from the Stirling Castle


Both the castles (Edinburgh and Stirling) have a rich history and there is quite some debate among locals / tourists regarding which is better? Unfortunately, due to time constraints, we did not get time to explore the Edinburgh castle in detail - so we cannot really weigh in on the debate.  If and when you visit both, please do let us know your opinion :) As a teaser, enjoy a few pics of the Edinburgh castle from the outside.

Once upon a time, there was a king ...


Night in London

We had a brief stopover in London, on the way to Edinburgh. So enjoy a few pics of 'A Night in London', and a more thorough exploration of  London remains on the wish list for next time.


The very imposing London Tower Bridge
The colorful London eye
The 2 most iconic things in London - Big Ben and the Red (Telephone) Boxes

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