Scotland: Day 1 + 2

We have internet again! After spending a few days camping just North of Inverness we have ventured even further North, but staying in a Bed + Breakfast with wifi. So not quite back in civilization but making strides.

And without further ado…. the blog posts.

Scotland: Day 1

Our two week journey in Scotland started with a plane ride at 10:40 pm from Boston to London. Ultimately, the trip was painless, all considering and both James and I managed a few hours of sleep despite being upright. We landed in London around 10 a.m. on Sunday, had a leisurely breakfast and boarded a shuttle to Edinburgh.

We picked up our rental car in Edinburgh (a Mercedes!), loaded up the luggage and headed out of the city to Perth, which is about 40 – 45 minutes north. We stayed at the Huntingtower Hotel, a very Scottish bed and breakfast. After checking in, we went out for a quick walk before dinner. The hotel is near the Huntingtower Castle, so we made our way up there to see our first Scottish castle and hoping to kill some jet lag.

Given the crazy day of travel, we decided to have dinner at the bed & breakfast. The meal was decent (nothing to write home about, but good enough). I had mushroom soup and steak, while James had smoked salmon and steak with blue cheese (and cheesecake). We headed almost immediately to bed afterwards and proceeded to sleep for 11 hours.

Huntingtower Castle
Huntingtower Castle

In the morning we decided to go for a short run before being in the car for a few hours. The walk the evening before proved to be beautiful and pleasant. I gave James the task of leading us for our run. We spent the majority of it in a construction site….

Anyway… we kicked off the journey by heading to Scone Palace (pronounced Scoon), which is where Scone Stone once lay. This is the stone that almost every Scottish king was crowned on. You may have heard of it because a group of students in the 50s stole the stone from London in attempts to return it to its rightful homeland. (It ended up in England in the first place because one of the Scottish kings brought it there).

Scone Palace
Scone Palace

The palace was previously a bishops palace, but the family that runs and lives in it now, has done so for the past four hundred years. We strolled through the halls of the palace, admiring breath taking art work and even Queen Victoria’s chambers when she came to visit for a brief period.

Town graveyard (the only thing that wasn't moved two miles down the road when an earl decided the town was too close to his living quarters).
Town graveyard (the only thing that wasn’t moved two miles down the road when an earl decided the town was too close to his living quarters).
Old town gates (prior to being moved two miles down the road)
Old town gates (prior to being moved two miles down the road)

The castle grounds are also breathtaking, and so following our indoor tour, we wandered around outside – including complete a star shaped hedge maze, checking out the kitchen gardens and the town’s old graveyard.

At around 11:30 we hopped over to the café onsite for a quick bite to eat (potato leek soup!) and then hit the road for our next destination: the Highland Folk Museum.

For anyone who watches Outlander, the scenes of Lallybroch (the town not the manor) were shot at the folk museum. So first things first, we headed over to the 1700s highland town. Similar to Plymouth planation or Williamsburg, Virginia this was a living breathing replica of a 1700s highland town, complete with actors and fires in the hearth. We wandered around, taking in the beautiful scenery and dodging the random spurts of rain. Afterwards, we walked around the rest of the museum (it’s outdoors), which included a village from the 1920s/1930s (weaving shop, tailors, post office, candy store, school house, church, clock store, etc.). It was definitely cool.

We opted to forgo the farming section and headed back on the road to the Black Isle Yurts. The scenery continued to be breathtaking and eventually we crossed the point in which the road was literally one lane with a “passing spot” every 100 feet or so in case there are two cars going opposite direction at the same time. Nerve-wracking the first time (though better with each subsequent turn), we eventually made it to our yurt.

The yurt is secluded and overlooks Moray Firth – which apparently houses numerous dolphins (yet to be seen). We stocked up at the grocery store on goodies, and had a dinner of gluten free pasta, pesto, asparagus and tomatoes. Given our two weeks of travel, we’re going to try and cook whenever it makes sense – and so peanut butter and jelly sandwiches will be the lunch norm for the next few days.

Scotland: Day 2

Our first night in a yurt was cozy and REALLY cold. The wood stove went out around midnight (according to James) and when I finally woke up around 6 am, I felt I could barely move because of the temperature. After mustering the courage, I finally pealed out of bed and tried lighting a fire. This is really not that easy, if you are left with a book of matches, some logs and newspaper.

Today was a hiking day. Originally I wanted to do a dolphin hike in Rosemarkie, but we discovered that we could walk to the majority of the hike from Black Isle, and so after checking the tides, headed off on our journey. The yurts are located on a cliff overlooking the ocean. We made it down the cliff and then walked along the beach for about 4 – 5 miles to a lighthouse at the end.

The lighthouse is supposed to be “the place” to see dolphins, but we actually saw many more along the way. Some were so close it felt like we could almost touch them. The sun was shining and everything was pleasant. As soon as we reached the lighthouse, a rain cloud floated over and POURED. We ran around trying to find cover, but there really wasn’t any. So we eventually decided to move on and walked through the 15th oldest golf course in the world into town for a bathroom break and bandaid expedition (some sand in the boot made for a nice blister sensation).

Along the way we popped into the Groam House museum, which is a local museum that houses stones found from 700-800 AD. The stones are intricately cut and believed to have once been part of a monastery in Rosemarkie. But the coolest part of the museum was the upstairs temporary collection – a series of drawings from World War I done by Celtic artist George Bain. They pieces were amazingly detailed and beautiful.

From the museum, we started down the Fairy Glen path, and were pleasantly surprised by multiple waterfalls at the end. The rest of our journey was up Eathie road, which we thought was significantly shorter…. Lesson learned!

Once we got back from our hike, we hopped in the car and headed to Culloden Battlefield. The museum is very well done – you go through the history of both the English and Scottish, learning about the Jacobites, Bonnie Prince Charlie and battle techniques of both side. I was really impressed. A short film immerses you in a recreation of the battle, and is quite disturbing and incredibly moving. We finished the tour by walking through the battle field, in which each of the clans that fought and lost their lives are depicted.

James' lineage can be mapped back to the Frasers.
James’ lineage can be mapped back to the Frasers.

I highly recommend a visit if you are in Scotland, whether you have a connection to Culloden or not.

We drove back towards our yurt, and spent the rest of the evening trying to light our wood stove (it was being very difficult this evening!), making dinner and doing dishes.