When in Caledonia…

If you find yourself in Scotland, why not follow some of Ben’s helpful hints?

Go climb up to Arthur’s seat. Don’t put it on the list of things you might do, do it. You won’t regret it. Though, you may want to drop off your luggage first!

A short walk from Edinburgh station brought Holyrood Park into view, and my travel buddy, Robert, balked at what he thought was Arthur’s seat. Arthur’s seat is, in fact higher and partially obscured by the comparable hill that stands in front of it. After a slow hike (there were many photo pauses), we made it to the top. At an elevation of 251 metres (823 feet), Arthur’s seat commands a vast panoramic view of Edinburgh and beyond. The breath you’ve regained from pausing at the top will inevitably be taken away by the sight.

Over the course of an extra long weekend in Scotland, I wandered around much of Edinburgh, and took two day trips with Haggis Adventures. I cannot recommend them highly enough as a tour group. We met other tour groups over our trips up and down the highlands, and I feel that ours was the group who got the best deal. Never did I feel like I was being herded through tourist traps, as some other groups appeared to be. The two tour guides were friendly and knowledgeable, and really were the icing on the cake- a beautifully majestic cake, full of lochs, glens, bens (mountains), hundreds of sheep, and even a few coos (cows).

The first day tour took us up into the highlands, past the beautiful Loch Earn, and into a famous Whisky distillery, the home of the Famous Grouse Experience. The wafting scents of aging casks, not to mention the whiskey itself are still close to my olfactory memory. The tour (samples included) was a wonderful mix of whiskey history, multimedia presentations, and of course, the distillery itself in action. Lunch in the upstairs restaurant was equally inspiring, Haggis Neeps and Tatties was on the menu of the day, and the majestic view couldn’t have been better. On the way back to Edinburgh, we stopped for a woodland walk, drinking in the sight of the trees and Black Linn Falls.

Day trip number two took us further up north to the infamous Loch Ness. Again, there were numerous pauses for photos and leg stretching among the scenic highlands. A short boat cruise around Loch Ness did not, unfortunately contain a Nessie sighting, but was nonetheless enjoyable. I have to give particular credit to the guide for the day, especially when we covered ground already seen previously. Not once was anything that our previous guide said repeated, it appears that each guide was sharing their knowledge, not reciting a script.

Though I was sad to get back on the train at the end of the trip, I thoroughly enjoyed the experience. Hopefully I can go back someday and see some of the many things that I missed.

Scotland

Yummy Scottish meal!

Scotland

Ben Klok 5