Our Scottish adventure began when we landed in Edinburgh, smack in the middle of festival season. The weather was glorious and the streets were packed. Our Airbnb host told us to head down to the George Square Gardens, which had been taken over by food trucks & beer tents.
We spent a couple of days roaming around Edinburgh, exploring the sights, parks, bars & restaurants around the Old Town & the Royal Mile.
Toward the end of our last day we climbed Arthur's Seat to check out the pretty amazing view across the whole city.
From Edinburgh, we briefly parted ways with Erin & took a train north through the spectacular Cairngorms National Park to the de facto capital of the highlands, Inverness.
Inverness is a nice little city on the River Ness. We didn't find a whole lot to do in Inverness itself (aside from some nice cafes, pubs and an amazing little Jamaican restaurant called Kool Runnings) but if you hire a car, it's surrounded by stuff to do. On our first day we headed south to take a quick peek at a glassy Loch Ness…
…before heading into Glen Affric Nature Reserve for a hike.
We met up with Erin again & spent the following day driving the full 100km around Loch Ness, stopping off for a few hikes, castles & old cemeteries along the way.
Tain & Dornoch
After Inverness, with Danielle joining us fresh from the summit of Ben Nevis, it was time to roadtrip deeper into the highlands for Alex & Hugo's wedding!
The 45 minute drive up to Tain ended up taking about 5 hours when we took an impromptu detour along the Pictish Trail, saw the Nigg Stone, traipsed through some farmer's fields in search of a castle (it was on the map, but we only found some cows & a neat little forest) and just made it to the Glenmorangie distillery in time for an afternoon whisky.
After Alex & Hugo's wedding (which we have no photos of - too much fun feasting, drinking & ceilidh-dancing up a storm!) we parted ways with Erin & Danielle and headed west to the spectacular Isle of Skye.
Isle of Skye
Every time you drive around a corner in Scotland you get a new jaw-dropping view of mountains, rivers & lochs, but the misty Quiraing took it to the next level.
We could have spent at least a week exploring Skye, but after a couple of days it was time to head south via Loch Lochy, Fort William and Glencoe to Oban, where we'd catch a ferry to the Isle of Mull.
Isle of Mull
As soon as we arrived on Mull we decided to head towards a large patch of green on our map that had a picture of a deer on it. We didn't find any deer, but a long way down a dirt track we found Lochbuie - a tiny little town on a desolate bay with a ruined castle and a little post office/food store that runs entirely on the honour system.
We both swear we heard a whale blowholing out in the bay.
We spent a luxurious night at Glengorm Castle followed by a day of hiking, bird watching, otter spotting (unsuccessfully 😢) and exploring some interesting historical sites - standing stones, an iron age hill fort and the ruins of a village whose residents were forced out by the castle's founder. When they left (many of them for gold rush-era Melbourne), they carved sailing boats on the front door of their cottages.
We spent one last night in Mull's tiny capital Tobermory before the final drive south for a fun unplanned afternoon in Glasgow (after Loch Lomond turned out to be kind of boring) and a morning flight full of rowdy Glaswegians to Turkey!
Pro tip: if you ever find yourself road tripping around the highlands and want everything to seem somehow even more surreal & spectacular, chuck the Outlander soundtrack on repeat 😉.