Back to reality after an amazing two weeks in Scotland.
While there are so many details I want to share to help you plan a phenomenal getaway of your own, this post is going to be about general trip plan, where to stay, and maybe some food favorites because I can’t help myself.
Scotland has been on my bucket list forever. The allure of the Highlands is almost too much to pass up alone. Throw in Harry Potter and Outlander and I could not wait for this trip.
We made sure to pack as much as possible into our two week adventure. Right off the bat Edinburgh, Isle of Skye, and Inverness were definite stops. Upon further research we added Stirling, Fort William, and Grantown on Spey to our list. In order to hit all the stops we wanted, including side trips, we knew we needed to rent a car after we left Edinburgh. We also created our itinerary so we were doing a giant circle around the country. Don’t be intimidated by the idea of driving. Yes, it is the other side of the road and the car but their roadway’s are well marked and their lanes are not too thin.
I am very thankful to have met Audrei during our mutual favorite person’s wedding weekend. She lives in Edinburgh and is a fabulous resource for places to stay not only there but in Skye as well. Additionally, she is a fantastic and knowledgeable tour guide. Our first two nights were spent in Old Town Edinburgh. It was a quick walk to the Castle, Grass Market, Victoria street, and other must see sites. Our Airbnb was also close to a few of the cutest neighborhoods with amazing food options. Some of my favorites were Montpeliers Bruntsfield and the Grain Store.
After Edinburgh we headed to Stirling. This city was an absolute surprise to us in the best way. We ended up seeing more in one day here than anywhere else. Stirling Castle, the Wallace Monument, and Doune Castle all reside in or close to Stirling. I am sure there was much more we could have seen as well but we only allotted one day. We stayed in this bed and breakfast. If you stay here, try the bread in the morning. It is homemade and absolutely fabulous.
Caol, near Fort William, was next. Honestly, since we had ridden the Jacobite steam train, also known as the Hogwarts Express, earlier in the week we did not need to go back to Fort William. I would have opted to stay in Stirling another night but the loft suite in this airbnb and the views from the big windows was truly amazing. In Caol, open late means 9pm so the food options were limited.
Now for the part of the trip I was most excited about, Isle of Skye! Every time I mentioned to someone both before and during our trip that we were going to Skye they were excited. It is one of the most breathtaking places I have ever been. Striking beauty that cameras honestly cannot capture, but we sure did try. This is where it is beneficial to have a car so you can roam around as you please and take your time hiking and just exist in the general splendor. Soaking wet from hiking Old Man of Storr in a torrential downpour we took refuge at The Old Inn.
Everyone we met at the Old Inn was a delight. Staff, locals, and fellow tourists alike. The food in their restaurant is delicious and they have various games to keep you occupied on a rainy evening. Our room was minimalist but had everything we needed. Most appreciated was the nice hot water shower to shake off the bone chilling cold from the hike. Breakfast was included and that is always a plus when you are moving on quickly from one place to the next.
Nessie watch 2018 went into full effect for one of our few two night stays in Inverness. We stayed at Touchwood House. This was definitely our most interesting stay of the trip. From the outside this house looks very typical but once you walk through the door you know you’re in for a treat. Right off the bat you smell incense burning and everything is dark mahogany. You walk into a main room that can only be described as Halloween themed. There are witch statues everywhere, books on various spirit topics, every Edgar Allen Poe book ever written, and much more.
That being said the woman who owns Touchwood House is very nice and pointed us to a lovely spot for dinner our first night. The restaurant Number 27. While the immediate interior is a bit intimidating our room was airy and bright with its own bathroom and lounge area. The house is walking distance, by the Ness River, to the downtown area. I would actually recommend staying here. You will have a fabulous story to tell, great hospitality, and easy access to all Inverness has to offer.
In what I can only describe as the exact opposite appearance wise to Touchwood house, Tigh na Sgiath Country House is truly a regal retreat. It looks a lot like a small castle and the inside is decorated in comfortable elegance. This was the place we called home while in Grantown on Spey. The staff is excellent, the chef even better, and they were extremely knowledgeable and ready with suggestions on what to do in the area. We ate dinner there the first night and breakfast for two days, all amazing.
Finally, we stayed in Leith. This is a suburb of Edinburgh to the North. Leith is known for The Royal Yacht Club. It was the perfect place to end our trip because it was not touristy at all and instead let us see another side of a new favorite city. There was a little stretch of restaurants and bars by the water with indoor/outdoor seating, live music, and great food & drink deals.
Keep an eye out for the next trip spotlight on excursions and tours I would recommend. Additionally, a scotch whiskey breakdown for novices-old pro’s!