Tuesday, 4 June 2013

scotland on steroids

It seemed a little pricey hiring a car to road trip around Scotland by myself, but with the initial plan I had in mind it would have turned out for the best. But as always, travel plans change! So it may have been cheaper getting a bus, but my justification was having the freedom to stop wherever I wanted to take photos, as well as the 'mental health' time I get when driving alone!

The next day after café hunting in Glasgow, I drove through the heaviest thunderstorm while passing Loch Lamond. It would have been absolutely stunning if I could see past 10 metres, but within an hour the clouds opened up for me and the sun lit up the cute little fishing town of Oban where I stopped for a local smoked salmon sandwich.

My next mission was to drive north passed Loch Ness to a little town called Findhorn (north of Inverness) where my friend Pippa lived. Pippa was another volunteer on the whale project and after spending years in Sydney, she landed a sweet job as a wildlife guide in her home town. I was pretty exhausted after driving all day, but since no Sagittarian would miss an offer of a beer, we hopped on a boat and zipped across the bay to Cromarty for campfire beers at her mate’s party. 

After returning to the mainland we went to the sailing club to meet her cousin Craig, and as any good cousin would do he encouraged us to stay up drinking. I sampled some nice local Scottish whiskey and chatted to the locals. After about an hour I had about four offers for activities the next day (as Pippa was working). Either horse riding along the beach (with the wife of the whiskey brewer), white water rafting with one of Craig’s friends or mountain biking with the man himself. Since I haven’t’ rode a horse since I was about 14 and I didn’t particularly want to go rafting by myself, I chose riding along the coast! Good fun :) 

After the ride, Craig and I started drinking Guinness in the afternoon while we waited for Pippa, and I took some pretty spectacular photos (if I must say so myself). The evening was so still on the water and the reflections of all the little boats dotted over the bay were unreal. We ended up doing a mini Findhorn pub crawl, consisting of all three pubs. 

Craig managed to convince both Pippa and I to join him rafting at Randalls Leap the next day, a bit of a challenge hung over but well worth getting out of bed for. Along the rafting trip, we stopped for lunch, jumped off some rocks into the freezing cold water, and at the end of the trip we saw two baby deer try desperately to run across the river. It was pretty amusing.

If you didn’t think I could squeeze anymore more action packed into this little getaway, think again. The next day Pippa and I drove to the Isle of Skye, which was on my must-do list in Scotland. We ended up hiking a track with beautiful views called Ben Yianavaig. Although the walk itself was relatively easy, it was bloody difficult to find the start of the track! How hard is it to put up a sign?!  I would love to come back here for a camping/hiking, it’s just stunning but I’d definitely take more time.

With an early morning rise the next day, we had a relatively early night after a nice feed at one of the locals of course! The next day, I drove all the way through Aviemore and the Cairngorms to Edinburgh. I would recommend Findhorn to anyone who wants to experience a true Scottish town. But then again, they always say it’s the company that counts :) Thanks Pippa and Craig! I had a brilliant time and reckon that these kinds of active adventures are what travel should be about! 

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