Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Day trip to the Scottish Highlands

Edinburgh is wonderful but I think I hit all the hot spots there in my first day of touring. I had two full days there so when I found information about day trips from Edinburgh it was a quick decision to go on one.

After looking at the Highland Explorer Tours' website I decided to book my trip. I had a complication with the website so I decided to visit their office which was not a far walk from my hostel.

I was glad I went in because I learned more about my choices of tours and picked the one that was less driving which meant more time off the bus and more time out in nature. At nine a.m. I headed off for a days long journey that would take me to several places.

Please click on the links throughout this post if you would like to learn more about the sites I visited. 

Our first stop was the William Wallace Monument in Stirling just about a hour or so drive from Edinburgh. We only got 20 minutes there so most people took this time to look at the monument from afar, use the restroom, and look in the gift shop. The Wallace Monument sits atop a pretty steep hill. Our tour guide said if we were fast we could walk up to get a closer look, but we would not have time to go inside. Having a can- do attitude this entire trip and figuring this was the only time I would ever be here (plus it helps that I'm young) I climbed myself up that hill. I'm really glad I did because I got a fantastic view of the city of Stirling below.

 Moving on we would be going to Loch Lomond next. We accessed the lake from a small town called Balloch. Here there was an option to take a boat cruise around the lake, but wanting to save £9.50 and explore on my own I chose to do just that. 

Having just over an hour here I stopped in the information center where I got a map and took off on the trail to the lake which was just five minutes away. 

 As I sat admiring Loch Lomond I wrote my parents two post cards. I had been sending them from all the places that I went on this trip

It was lunch time so we headed to a town called Aberfoyle to eat lunch there. There were plenty of places to grab some lunch but I had brought mine with me, again trying to save money.

After I ate my lunch I still had plenty of time for some exploring of the town.

Our next destination was the small city of Doune to visit Doune Castle. Which in addition to is historical importance was one of the filming locations for Monty Python and the Holy Grail. A film that I have loved since age 16. To go in the castle cost £5 and since I love the movie and I am a new found lover of historic castles I saw the money as very well spent. With my £5 came a free audio tour. I have never gotten to see an attraction with an audio tour before because I usually never want to spend the extra money. But now that I have experienced an attraction with one I may never go back. I got to learn so much history that I never would have if I would have toured alone. Doune Castle was not busy at all. Only the few members of our tour group who wanted to pay to go in were present there. I only had 45 minutes to admire it but I had a really great time walking through this house of stone.

Between Doune Castle and returning to Edinburgh our tour guide/bus driver stopped at a viewing point for a photo opportunity. This is where I had the picture below taken. Being in a place like this filled me up after being so far away from green and nature for far too long.
I was so happy that I decided to take this day trip. I was glad to be able to see as much of Scotland as I could during my short time there. If you take notice in most of my pictures the sky seems to look somewhat dark and mysterious. It never rained that day (thank God) but there were always those clouds in the sky added to the wide open spaces that I journeyed through in Scotland.

Something that I always have wanted to see was wide open fields covered in dark shadows from the moving clouds above.Gazing out the window of our tour bus I saw just this.

Editors note: To all of you reading this wondering where Tip Tuesday is, I'm sorry. Please check back tomorrow for your Tip Tuesday (Wednesday).