What were our first impressions of this amazing vast countryside we know as the Scottish Highlands? It felt comfortable to be here, felt a bit like home though not that comfortable that we didn’t feel like we were exploring a new frontier.
Before starting our housesit in Cupar, which was in the summer of 2016, we decided to check out why this part of the United Kingdom was talked about so much. Scotland’s scenery is absolutely stunning, despite what the evidence portrays. The seemingly endless showers and cloud should be a hindrance, but in reality, it just adds to the magical mystery that makes up the Scottish countryside.
Where did we go?
From our last housesit in Kirkby Fleetham in June 2016, North Yorkshire we headed north, with a stop in Hexham. This is a quaint town to wander around. I loved the flags all around the place, made it feel rather festive.
Our next stop to explore was from Lockerbie. As it coincided with a need for sustenance and a walk. This is one place I did not share much with friends/family when we visited it last year. The area affected us, didn’t really want to talk about it at the time. We came away from there, with more questions unanswered than when we arrived.
What comes to mind when I think of our visit without over thinking it was the headstone of a 19-year-old male, for some reason that is what left me feeling very sad. Life had only just started. Was it because he was so far away from where loved ones live/d? He was just one of many. Unfortunately, the town still has that air of sadness, though it has been said that this area recovered quite quickly. The town has an eerie feeling about it, even writing about it ‘s hard to put into words, our time in this area.
My heart goes out to the people of Lockerbie and to all those people involved with their incredibly sad stories. Not sure if the area around and Lockerbie will ever be anything other than a place for the memorial for those who died in one of the country’s major terrorist attacks. As it not only killed many people, it also marked a town as one that was involved in a terrible event.
It was, however, for us, a place of quiet reflection.
Driving away we looked ahead with eagerness to just be with our thoughts and also admire the passing countryside. Until we came to Moffat, time for a cuppa and a chat to discuss the more positive side of the world we live in. Doesn’t having a cuppa do that? Make everyone feel better?
Our afternoon break was in the village of New Lanark, exploring around New Lanark which is a restored 18th-century cotton mill village on the banks of the River Clyde, close to the Falls of Clyde in southern Scotland.
Under the management of Robert Owen, New Lanark was created as a cotton-spinning village in the late 18th to early 19th century.
The walk around the vast property to the waterfall and back to the mill was a welcome break from driving. Even managed a cuppa before they closed for the day.
Our first overnight accommodation was of this character filled Airbnb, in the town of Crieff for more information head to its website James Cottage. The owner was a very funny Irishman called Mike. It was a visit of many ‘firsts’, the big one was our first taste of haggis. I must admit I was definitely sceptical about whether it was going to be pleasurable or distasteful. Another first, I was wrong. [I jest]! The experience wanted me to search out more at a later stage, though like many things in life, the second time is never quite as enjoyable as the first. Sorry no food porn, we were too busy eating!
Leaving Crieff, we headed to Lochearnhead [on the Loch Earn], Lochearnhead, Killin, Kenmore Bridge [the gateway to the Scottish Highlands], Taymouth Castle [with an excellent wool shop with purchase of gloves and a scarf] then Tummel Bridge for lunch.
Curiosity got the better of us when we saw a group of cars situated opposite a railway track with people gathered with cameras dangling from their necks. Could it be? Maybe. We were right. They were waiting for a sighting of The Flying Scotsman. After half an hour later in not good photographic weather, we were rewarded.
Back in the car which saw us heading off through Dunalastair, Trinafour, onto the A9 and off at Dalwhinnie, Catledge, Laggan, Newtonmore, Kingussie with the rest of the trip to Inverness on the A9.
It was an incredible introduction to Scotland’s countryside, and we were looking forward to exploring the more out of the way places around Inverness and further north.
Four words – off the beaten track.
Though not straight off. We had a few stops to go yet.
Where did we stay?
Inverness Airbnb – it was in a lovely comfortable historic 1930’s house in Lakefield.
While based in Inverness we headed to the Western Coast, very rarely seeing cars whizz by just the wide open spaces of green pastures, trees and mountains with the odd bucket load of rain on our windscreens, we are in Scotland it was to be expected.
The Caledonian Canal with what appears to be the Lochness Monster in Dry Dock
Then there were the special days when the sun appeared, and we were rewarded with views that left us breathless. Below photo is of Ullapool.
A week later it was now time to leave Northern Scotland head down along the coastal road, as our housesit in Cupar was about to begin. Here are a few highlights of our many stops along this incredibly scenic road trip.
There ends our first long taste of Northern England and Scotland, here’s to many more!