A one-week flash tour of cities, castles, lochs, highlands, and trails.

see also the interactive map

Although we only had a week, we had a great time and we saw an incredible amount.  We started with two nights in Edinburgh, where we stayed with my oldest friend – that is, my first ever friend, who was born just four days after me.  Then we drove northwest through highlands to the lochs and bays of the western coast, with two nights around Glen Coe. Then northeast along Loch Ness to Inverness, and down through Cairngorm national park to Scone and then St Andrews, where we spent two nights. Off to Glasgow for a night. Then an early-morning flight out of Edinburgh allowed us to have lunch in Paris before returning home.  Whew!  Read on.

Scotland certainly lived up to its rainy stereotype, as we had a little rain nearly every day we were there.  But the countryside was stunningly beautiful, particularly the rugged glens of the highlands, the high rolling hills of the Caingorm region, and the pastoral rounded terrain of the Kingdom of Fife near St Andrews.

Wherever we went, the sense of history was deeply palpable. We visited castles in EdinburghStirlingUrquhartScone, and St Andrews – some in ruins, some restored as landmarks, and some actually still functioning residences.  We passed churches that were hundreds (or even a thousand) years old. It’s truly astonishing to think about the range of human civilization that has lived on this land.

The food was fantastic. Joanna and Tom fed us home-cooked meals in Edinburgh, we sampled huge platters of shellfish near Glencoe, Andy dug into the bangers and mash, and David tasted a range of beers from east to west.

The Harry Potter fans out there will remember that many scenes from the films were filmed in Scotland. SO, one of our missions was to discover some of these sites. (See for example, this website.) We found the site where they filmed Hagrid’s cabin, near Glencoe, and the famous railroad viaduct where they film the scene with the flying car over the Hogwarts Express (near Glenfinnan). Andy was especially excited by this find!

The roads are well-maintained and pretty well-marked, making car touring a joy. Driving on the wrong (er, left) side of the road takes some getting used to, and since many of the roads are very narrow and have no shoulder this can be a hair-raising experience. Still, we managed.

See more details in the following photo galleries:

If you’re in a rush, check out the photo highlights. Overall, Scotland is a lovely place, gorgeous scenery, friendly people, proud monuments, fantastic food.  Can’t wait to go back!

This post was transferred from MobileMe to WordPress in 2021, with an effort to retain the content as close to the original as possible; I recognize that some comments may now seem dated or some links may now be broken.

Author: dfkotz

David Kotz is an outdoor enthusiast, traveller, husband, and father of three. He is also a Professor of Computer Science at Dartmouth College.

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