Okay, this will be my last* recap of our trip abroad, and I think it’s going to be my favorite.
*side note: turns out I was lying when I wrote this
After a few days in Edinburgh, we rented a car and drove the 30ish miles up to a small village called Stirling. We were staying at a gorgeous old manor from the 1700s that had been converted into a bed & breakfast by the owners. I found it on TripAdvisor when I was planning the trip and researching the area, and was really, really excited because the pictures online looked like a dream.
Driving to Stirling was much different than driving in North Yorkshire, because we were on an actual highway this time, instead of narrow two-way, country roads. Which was good, except the highway we were on – the A9 – is like a virtual deathtrap for tourists. It would arbitrarily change from being a divided highway – with two lanes for each direction – into an undivided highway with only one lane for each direction. So, you could be driving along thinking you’re going to pass someone – in the PASSING LANE – when really you’ve just moved into oncoming traffic. Luckily, I had read about this notorious highway before, so Jason and I were extra vigilant.
Oh and it doesn’t help that there is this kind of stuff just hanging out for distracted drivers to admire:
Just a couple of ginormous horse sculptures off the side of the highway, nbd.
Anyway, so we arrived in Stirling in one piece and found our way to the B&B. It was just as beautiful as the pictures online, but you could totally see its age in some areas.
The driveway to the B&B:
The owners were super sweet and let us explore the property.
Sheep and an old sundial (c.1700s):
You couldn’t get closer to the sheep because of this 4 foot drop:
Trail around the property:
View of the manor, sheep, and gypsy caravans from the trail:
Gypsy caravans for glamping & Daphne trying to squirm away from her dad:
The inside was quirky and fun:
Ceiling and sky light:
While in Stirling we climbed the William Wallace Monument (Braveheart, anyone?) and made a quick stop at Stirling Castle.
Both were interesting in their own right, for their history and architecture, but to be honest, they were some of the more forgettable parts of the trip.
They were just too touristy for my tastes.
What I did like was the little trip we took to Inchmahome Priory (near Stirling). The priory is on a little island on the Lake of Menteithand – the only “lake” in Scotland, fyi! – and in order to get there we needed to take a short boat ride.
It was cold day and it was windy on the island, but the ruins were lovely and Daphne had fun chasing Canada geese.
Where the priests would sit during mass:
On the rest of the island:
Can’t help but laugh when I look at this picture of Daphne pointing her green foam sword at some poor little Scottish boy that ran by her:
After a couple of days in Stirling we hit the road again north to Inverness. I was excited for this part of our trip because there was a short detour I had planned for us on the way: Finlarig Castle.
Finlarig Castle is a 17th century castle that has been completely left to ruin. It is not protected by the government or any other type of historical organization, like all the other castles, abbeys, and ruins we had previously visited. Instead, it sits completely neglected on private property (the public is welcome to explore at their own risk).
We had a little trouble finding the castle since it was in the middle of nowhere and there weren’t any precise GPS coordinates to input in our navigation system.
I liked this castle the best out of the whole trip because of its sense of authenticity. The grounds were unkempt, the staircase collapsed, and the roof non-existent, and yet, all that is what made it so much fun to explore.
Both Jason and I took turns climbing the rubble of the ruined staircase up to the second floor. Once you were at the top, you needed to hop across a large opening to get to the remaining enclosed portion.
Needless to say, Daphne wasn’t allowed to participate in our exploratory adventures. But she did make a good spectator!
From the second floor:
What I think was a fireplace on the right:
More of the castle:
Apparently this panel dates the castle back to 1609:
Behind the ruins of the castle are ruins of an old mausoleum:
The whole experience was kind of creepy/exhilarating.
There was this giant hole in the ground that I didn’t get pictures of because I thought it was just that, a giant hole in the ground, but I later learned it was probably a beheading pit.
Anyway, so after our short detour we made our way to our B&B in Inverness (in the Highlands) where we got some rest for the next day.
When we awoke, we ate some breakfast and were promptly picked up at 9 o’clock by our private tour guide who was going to show us around the Highlands and the Isle of Skye.
I could seriously go on and on about how gorgeous the Highlands are and how beautiful the Isle of Skye is, but this post is already way too long so I’ll just have to let the pictures do the talking.
Urquhart Castle on the Loch Ness (where Nessie lives):
The Loch Ness:
Highland cow friends:
Highland horse and pig friends:
Some more pictures from the Highlands:
Eilean Doran Castle:
From the Highlands our guide drove us up to the Isle of Skye aka The Most Beautiful Place on the Planet.
The ruins of “Saucy Mary’s Castle” on the Isle of Skye:
Thatched roof cottage:
The North Sea:
The private tour took all day, and afterward we returned to Inverness.
The following morning we packed our bags and prepared for the long drive back down to Edinburgh for our flight the next day.
Buuut…there was one more small detour to check off our itinerary before heading to the capital city: a 4,000 year old burial ground.
Okay so this post is already long enough, and I really want to do justice to the amazingness that is the Clava Cairns instead of briefly skimming over it. But I need to pack and get things ready for our flight to Disney tomorrow. So instead of rushing to squeeze it all in here, I’ll just draft it tonight and publish tomorrow from my phone. That’ll make the recap of this trip a whopping total of 5 posts. We did so much during our time there, I don’t know how I ever thought I was going to be able to write about it all in only four parts. If you’re still with me, thanks for reading. I appreciate it!