scotland part III: the highlands and the end of edinburgh

During our time in Scotland we took a day trip to the Highlands.  We hopped on a bus in Edinburgh at 8am and returned to the Royal Mile at 8pm.

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It was a long day of riding and sightseeing but all of the views were amazing and the trip turned out to be one of the best things we did in the UK.  Our tour guide, Fergus (a good ol’ Scottish man with a proper kilt) took us north to the Cairngorm Mountains and learned about the National Park and the tree preservation efforts.  According to Fergus, Scotland used timber from the many trees in the Highlands to make supplies during World War II.  By the end of the war though, they had cut down almost all of their trees and had to rely on timber imports from the Scandinavian countries.  The Highlands are now full of tree farms to ensure that the trees can continue to be a resource for Scotland.

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Look at that rock skipping form ;)  We headed West and then South through Inverness and to the famous Loch Ness where we stopped for a boat ride and a view of the castle ruins.  Unfortunately, we did not spot the monster ;)  Loch Ness was remarkable – I never realized how enormous it is.  Apparently, if you took all of the fresh water from lakes and ponds in the UK and combined them, all of that water would fit into Loch Ness.  It is so deep that if you dropped the Eiffel Tower into the Loch, you wouldn’t know it was there.  The Loch was formed by ancient glacial movement, which also created the large, smooth mountains rising straight out of the water. While the tales of the Loch Ness Monster make the Loch famous, the views are really what should draw people there.

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Our next stop was Ben Nevis and a small stop to see the hairy coos (hairy cows).  These photos were taken at another lake (or loch) on our way back to Edinburgh.  The Hairy Coos were so funny.  Long hair covered their body and their eyes and they would stick out their tongues at anything that resembled food.

The beautiful Highlands and Edinburgh, Scotland

Our favorite part of the Highlands trip was the stop at the Three Sisters mountain ridges and the drive through the rest of Glen Coe.  The first picture in this post was taken at the Three Sisters range.  Glen Coe is mossy and green as far as the eye can see with rolling mountains, trickling waterfalls and running rivers everywhere.  It is picturesque but no picture can capture it well enough.  Our tour guide pointed out all of the places along our ride where famous movies have been filmed (think Harry Potter train scenes, wooded scenes from Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, James Bond’s house, etc).  For a place with such beautiful scenery, the Highlands is surprisingly undeveloped, which makes the views even more amazing.  At the point when we took the picture below, we were all in need of some fresh air.  While the bus was a great way to see the sites, Fergus was a crazy driver.  I’m pretty sure we were going in three directions at once during some parts of the ride.  Beautiful, nonetheless though :)

The beautiful Highlands and Edinburgh, Scotland

On our last full day in Scotland, some of our group took a day trip to St. Andrews and the rest of us went exploring in Edinburgh.  We walked from Old Town to New Town and found a cute area of Edinburgh called Dean Village.

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The picture above is from our walk to Dean Village, the picture below is from our walk along the river in the Village.  The little village was tucked below a bridge and the whole area was lower than most of the surrounding buildings.  A waterfall and a babbling river ran between the cute houses and led us to a cobblestone road for bikes and pedestrians and eventually to a small market.

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The pictures below are some I forgot to post from a previous day in Edinburgh when we toured Holyrood Palace.  They are the ruins of the Abbey on the palace grounds.  Through the window holes you can see the Royal Garden where the queen hosts the Royal Garden Party each year.

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That’s all for Scotland!  We LOVED our time there and would absolutely go back, especially to Glen Coe.  Let us know if you need any recommendations – We have nothing but rave reviews of the Highlands and Edinburgh!  Until next time, Scotland, slainte!

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