Later this month we are off up to Scotland with the boys for a week. Adam and I LOVE Scotland. In our 10 years together we’ve been countless times either camping, renting cottages or staying with friends, and there is still so much for us to explore. Even though, relatively speaking, it is only a small country, I feel as though we could have 20 different holidays in 20 different locations and there still be plenty more to see. I want to list some of the highlights of my experiences with you, and share why it is such a special place to us.
This has to be my favourite region. The scenery is simply breath-taking. It feels like a real effort to go to the Highlands and Islands and so the locals are really welcoming. You could drive for 10 miles and count the number of cars you see coming the other way on one hand. It is so incredibly remote despite being part of the ‘overcrowded’ British Isles.
The one downside is the amount of time it takes to get there. Even though we live in the North of England, it is still a good 7 hour drive. When Dylan went as a baby he got fed up with the long drives, even though we took breaks every couple of hours and built in an overnight stop each way. When they get a bit older though, we’ll definitely start to explore again. I’d love to take in a trip going from Skye to the islands of Lewis, Harris and Barra.
Dylan’s first journey north of the border was to Mull for a week when he was 8 months old. We were able to explore the island mainly with Dylan in the Baby Bjorn carrier (so much so that he refused to go back in his pram after the holiday was over!!). There are beautiful beaches, islands, walks and hills.
I love the photographs below I have taken of Iona (a tiny island off Mull). When I posted them on my Facebook page, some people thought we were in the Caribbean (ok maybe not with the cardies!).
This picture was taken on Ulva, another small island off Mull. We explored the island with after taking a tiny passenger ferry across. The prawns were caught about 20 metres offshore. It was one of the simplest, yet most delicious meals I’ve tasted.
This was a particularly poignant journey, in more ways than one. We booked a short break to coincide with Ewan’s due date. I know about only 4% of babies actually arrive on their due date, but I couldn’t bear to be sat in the house, drumming my fingers and thinking of what might be. We decided to get away to take our minds off it. I don’t think it is uncommon for families similarly affected by stillbirth in a similar way to do this.
Our cottage was in the far north of the island, near a small village called Uig. It was March, so the weather was cold and bleak, with some snow still on the ground. But it was beautiful. My photographs don’t do it justice. During the daytime we explored the island, battered by the wind, rain and (some) sun, energised by the fresh sea and mountain air. I wanted to do lots of walking, but remember getting frustrated at being tired. Although how many people go hiking 8 weeks after giving birth?? Not many. At night we watched the sunset over the Outer Hebrides and then battered down the hatches in our little cottage.
Wow – What a spectacular place. It’s pretty impossible to get to the highlands without going through Glen Coe so we have driven through a few times and it never fails to impress. It is often described as one of the most beautiful places in Scotland. We once stopped a night at the Red Squirrel campsite. It was a bit of a miserable drizzly night and we almost had an early night after our long drive and a bland pasta tea cooked on the camping stove. Instead we decided to head on up the road to the Clachaig Inn for a drink. There was a band playing covers and the place was full to bursting. I’m pretty sure sweat was trickling down the walls! It’s hard to describe but it was possibly one of the most unplanned and random, but best nights out ever!
The Small Isles
Camusdarach overlooks the beautiful Small Isles of Eigg, Rum, Muck and Canna (great names!). We spent 3 nights at a campsite next to the beach. I would sit at sunrise and sunset each night trying to capture as many photographs of the islands as possible. We took a trip to Eigg one day and attempted to scale the Sgurr (the distinct hump shape). Unfortunately we never made it to the top. We were surrounded by swirling mist and at the point when we couldn’t see more than a metre in front of us and with a sheer drop into the Irish Sea below, we turned back!
I am so lucky to have visited Edinburgh on numerous occasions with friends and family. One of my brothers used to live nearby and a good friend married a Scotsman and ‘emigrated’ here so we have seen it from the perspective of locals as well as tourists. I have been to the Fringe festival and spent a memorable New Years Eve there. It was also the location of my first (and only so far) marathon! Edinburgh is one of my favourite cities. It is beautiful, easy to navigate and walk around. There is so much to see and do. Again after plenty of visits I could still go back time and time again. Hopefully we will take the boys soon. I’d love to take them to Edinburgh Zoo to see the Giant Panda (and maybe a baby or two!).
This list is by no means endless, and there are lots of wonderful places I haven’t included. I’m sure I will get round to sharing some of our experiences from Dumfries and Galloway after our holiday, an area I haven’t really explored since a family trip when I was 4 years old!
I hope you enjoyed hearing about my Scottish Love Affair. Are you a Scottish fan? Please share your favourite places. If not, have I converted you?