Nothing makes my skin crawl quite like taking part in a tourist mob– much less a tourist mob in a coach which inevitably screams Tourist! Tourist! But covering Edinburgh, various castles, and the Highlands all in three days time made the coach tour of Scotland an opportunity I couldn’t pass up. And so Scotland was the very first trip I planned (or, rather, signed up for) when I got to London in January. And I am so glad for that. Of course I was excited for the trip, but I was certainly not prepared for just how taken I would be with the gorgeous countryside I feel can only be described as the Romantic writers’ favorite word: sublime.
After two months, London has become familiar but not worn– there is so much to see. But, living next to a green park is not quite like actually being in nature. (And yes, either to my pleasure or to my dismay, I am a Kentucky girl, and it was nice to have a good dose of green after so long in the bustling city).
Our trip was a jam-packed three days of driving through the countryside led by an Edinburgh native. We drove hours through the countryside, making countless stops, and eating lots of fish and chips along the way. And although I couldn’t possibly recount everything we did, here’s the run-down:
Day 1: Edinburgh: Harry Potter and Rugby
Our first day was spent in Edinburgh, and I took that as a Harry Potter Holy Land day. After our guide gave us a quick tour of the city (and attempted to give us a sense of direction, which of course was lost on me), my first stop was to The Elephant House–the café where J.K. Rowling penned the first Harry Potter book (cue the fangirling). Following this, we walked down Victoria Street, which is thought to have been inspiration for Diagon Alley, and through the graveyard behind the café, containing the gravesite of one Tom Riddel and a McGonagall too (although this McGonagall was apparently a disappointing Scottish poet). That night, we dined in a classic Scottish pub a few blocks from our hostel, ate the first round of chips of the weekend, and watched rugby with some locals.
Day 2: Highlands and Fort Augustus: Monty Python, the Highlands, and the Loch Ness Monster
The next day, we got an early start and set off for Doune Castle, a mystical-looking medieval castle (which was also the set of Monty Python). We then went on towards the highlands, making stops at gorgeous scenery as we went. Our final stop of the day was Fort Augustus: population 900. This adorable and welcoming little town is the someplace of Loch Ness. Not as welcoming as her town, Nessie sadly did not make an appearance and so we made our way to a pub for dinner where we ate yet another round of chips, finishing our hearty meal off with some incredible sticky toffee pudding for dessert.
Day 3: Lowlands and the Hermitage: Casual castles, 6 Million Sheep, and a Waterfall
On our final day, we continued of journey from the day before, crowding back into the coach and making stops at various dilapidated medieval castles, breathtaking landscapes, and finally, a waterfall near the real life Macbeth’s fortress.
And although I’m pretty sure I saw 5.5 million of the country’s 6 million sheep in our three days of driving, I already want to go back and see more. Until next time, Scotland!