Recently, we attended a wedding in Glasgow, Scotland. Despite cool and windy summer weather, we managed to enjoy the time in Glasgow, and in particular, Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum near the University, and walking through the beautiful Botanic Gardens adjacent to our hotel, the Hilton Grosvenor. The gardens were blooming with rhododendron blooms and the walking tour varied from flower beds to river walks where the country met the city.
Day 1-2: Edinburgh
The day after the wedding, we picked up our car from Avis, a Volkswagen Passat wagon, very suitable for touring for 4 people with luggage. One reason I love a rental car is that you can choose the vehicle to suit the driving and number of passengers. Our first drive took us on the motorway M8 to Edinburgh for 2 nights. Quick as our trip to Edinburgh was, the time to reach our hotel, The Scotsman on North Bridge, took as long again once we reached Edinburgh. Finding North Bridge, when we had no idea that Edinburgh has a lower and upper level was a challenge in itself but 2 policemen, and several locals gave advice and finally we arrived at the front of the hotel only to find that there was absolutely nowhere to park at that entrance. We had to unload our luggage and run to obtain a porter’s assistance while we stopped at a busy bus lane. Mercifully, once this was done and the porter had told us where we could park legally, we did not touch the car again until our departure which was 2 days later. The hotel was brilliantly located just off the Royal Mile, Edinburgh Castle and the hop-on hop-off tourist buses, which we used to get an overview of this lovely city. We celebrated our wedding anniversary in Edinburgh with a fabulous dinner at the funky designer Missoni Hotel restaurant Cucina, which was also just a short walk from our hotel.
Day 3: Edinburgh to Inverness
We left Edinburgh on M90 crossing the Firth of Forth and a quick stop at Dunfermline, ancient capital of Scotland and famed for its abbey and the resting place of Robert, the Bruce. The church was closed but we saw the grave of St. Margaret, an ancestor of the friend we were travelling with. Our next stop was at Scone. Once the crowning place of the Kings of Scots, Scone Palace is full of significance for the Scots being the rightful home of the celebrated Stone of Scone – also known as the Stone of Destiny. Macbeth and Robert the Bruce were both crowned at Scone. The grounds have beautiful gardens with masses of azaleas and rhododendrons in bloom. Continuing on the M90, we headed for Blair Castle and Garden, the ancestral home of Stewarts and Murrays. The Castle has beautiful grounds and we wander through more rhododendrons and towering trees. From here, the road continues through the Grampian Mountains and through Glen Garry to Inverness, where we arrived in the late afternoon. One night at Inverness, it was a great experience in a delightful boutique hotel the Rocpool Reserve Hotel high on the hill overlooking Inverness. As it is light until nearly 10.00 pm, we still had time to enjoy the hotel and dinner as well as a walk down to the river and back.
Day 4: Inverness to Skye
This is our Loch Ness day. Luckily, the sun was shining on the water as we drove admiring the stunning views and greenery contrasted with inky blue water. Of course, we have to stop and take a lake cruise to search for Nessie. We can only manage an hour boat trip. From the boat, we saw the ruins of Urquhart Castle then back to the car and on to Eilean Donan Castle on the A87 quite close to where we had to cross the bridge to the Isle of Skye. Eilean Donan is situated by the picturesque village of Dornie on the main tourist route to the Isle of Skye The Castle is approached on a walkway where you can appreciate the magnificent island location at the junction of three lochs. This is one of Scotland’s most iconic visitor sights and we thoroughly enjoyed our visit and the fabulous scenery. But, we need to reach Skye tonight and this is one of our longest driving days (113 miles from Inverness to Portree, Skye) so back to the car and onwards. We were headed for the bridge crossing the Kyle of Lochalsh then along the winding road to Portree where we have booked into the Cuillin Hills Hotel. We chose it for the spectacular views from the lawns overlooking the multi-coloured houses in the village and the mountain range beyond. Having made our reservation for 2 rooms via Booking.com it was very disappointing on arrival to be told there was no booking. However, the efficient receptionist was able to sort out 2 rooms for us so disaster was avoided as Skye was heavily booked that weekend. We ate at quite a nice pub in Portree then back to the hotel and bed.
Day 5: Skye
Another sunny day, with only intermittent drizzle so, we started with a lovely walk directly from the hotel. This circuit walk takes you along the shore of Portree Bay with gorgeous views then up a hill with a clearly marked path and finally through woodland back to the hotel. Mildly strenuous, but it is well worth the effort. Then back to our trusty car rental and a circuit drive up to Flodigarry and across the mountains on a twisty road down to Uig and back to Portree with many more of those stunning sea views en route. Dinner tonight was at the Sea Breezes Restaurant located in the quaintest stretch of pastel coloured buildings right on the water where a cute seal face suddenly surfaced then disappeared. This restaurant specialises in sea food and we had a delicious meal.
Day 6: Skye to Fort William
This morning we retrace our drive on the A87 back over the bridge, by Eilean Donan Castle, and following a series of smaller Lochs to Invergarry. Turning on to the A82 takes us alongside Loch Lochy through Spean Bridge and on past Ben Nevis, Scotland’s highest peak, to our destination Inverlochy Castle for one night of living like Scottish lords. The hotel was really enticing and the lovely grounds that we took only a short walk in Fort William before retreating to our spacious rooms then dinner in the hotel restaurant with a sampling of fine Scots whiskey.
Day 7: Fort William to Comrie
Luckily, we have friends with a house in the village of Comrie, roughly an hour and a quarter from Glasgow. Our last long drive on the A82 took us there passing through Glen Coa and the moors to Loch Earn and densely wooded villages full of bluebells a sight I wanted to see since childhood. Comrie is as pretty as we had imagined although the weather has turned very cold. We took another lovely walk, where we skirted the village and then to the local for an excellent meal, our last dinner in Scotland.
Day 8: Comrie to Glasgow Airport
It was an easy drive back to Glasgow, a quick stop for shopping at the Stuart and Waterford Crystal Factory Shop en route. We reconnect with the M9 and then M80 to Glasgow and beyond to the airport near Paisley. We had no GPS but good roads and signage made it unnecessary. Once more allow plenty of time to return your car, we had to find a petrol station near the airport and then had to circle it again to find the rental car return area. The Avis section was poorly signposted and we finally spotted it behind the Europcar signs. A fabulous driving holiday, only sorry for not having longer to explore Scotland.
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