I’ve always known Scotland was beautiful country, I’ve lived here for my entire 24 years on this planet but I’ve never really ventured further than the central belt. Don’t get me wrong though, the lowlands of Scotland are stunning too. Boasting places like Glasgow (my ‘bit’ as we like to say round here) with its unique mix of historical and modern architecture and class banter if I do say so myself , Edinburgh: Scotland’s capital known for Trainspotting, the Edinburgh Festival and that big ol’ castle on a hill with the name that escapes me 😉, the gorgeous opposite coastlines of the East and West of Scotland and Stirling, the brooch clasp that conjoins the Highlands and Lowlands together, which I’ve never had the pleasure of visiting…yet.
But I’ve always felt a yearning to see the Highlands, maybe it’s the call of my Celtic ancestors beckoning me to them, the same call that draws me in when I think of Ireland where I can trace my mothers’ side of my family to. And I’ve never just gone for it and headed up there before, but something was different this year so my partner John and I just decided let’s do it! You can probably pinpoint it down to a severe case of cabin fever due to shielding and lockdown but it’s something I’ve always wanted to do, just to explore my own country before I decide to go mooch about far off lands and until it’s safe to do that again the plan is to find out, see and experience everything I possibly can in my own land.
So, off we went. And it was absolutely glorious. I can hardly put into words how beautiful the drive to Elgin where we were staying for the weekend was. Driving up past Loch Lomond, through the Glencoe valley and the towering Grampian Mountains then seeing Loch Ness towards the final stretch was just breath-taking, it’s something I’d love to do again just stop to truly take it in. I think the first time you see something as tremendously spectacular as the Grampians and Glencoe you’re just in total awe, like our planet created these and can’t fully process what it is you’re seeing in that moment.
The original plan was to visit Urquhart Castle on the banks of Loch Ness but nothing ever always goes to plan when you go on holiday so by the time we got there of course it had just closed to the public (excuse me while I facepalm!). But I did get my lanky 6ft boyfriend to take a quick snap of the castle over the wall so it wasn’t all for nought, Urquhart Castle – 0, Emmagayle and John – 1.
Slightly defeated after the long drive and failed hunt for Nessie (I did shout on her but to no avail, she wasn't coming out to play) we just went to the hotel for the night and decided we'd set out on our first full day of adventuring the next day.
I think I’ve gotten more ‘grown-up’ if you will over the last few years, many moons ago if I went on a holiday where I was told “Emma, you’re going to be visiting a big funny shaped rock in the ocean, some more rocks but this time they’re old and all piled up and lastly you’re going to go look at the sunset over some big hills.” even the thought of that would’ve bored me to tears. My mind wasn’t very set to appreciate nature and scenery and the likes at that age, it was more so on the wavelength of chatting it up on MSN, spreading the Luv on Bebo and absolutely filling the home PC with malware by downloading my favourite albums off of Limewire (sorry Mum and Dad, oopsies). But as I’ve got older, I’ve found myself more appreciative of nature and spending time outdoors, hopefully we can all get to do that a bit more often once things get back to normal.
So, on our first (and only) full day there spent time taking in what the highlands had to offer us. We saw Bow Fiddle Rock first and although I couldn’t get up close to see it as the path wasn’t wheelchair accessible, but that’s kind of somewhat expected when it comes to visiting nature spots, John got out and took a few pictures so I could properly see it. He’s a star! We then took a drive to see the 4000-year-old Clava burial cairns which I found absolutely fascinating, I don’t ever think I’ve ever been anywhere where something that ancient was still standing to this day and that just left me gobsmacked. If there’s somewhere where you’re going to feel so deeply connected to your Scottish roots, the Clava cairns certainly do the trick. To top the day off we watched the sun set at Chanonry Point, a spit of land that extends into the Moray Firth where you can usually see Bottlenose dolphins and grey seals swimming about. They also evaded us much like Nessie did the day before which is a shame but the staggering sunset was so mesmerising that it more than made up for it.
I wish we could’ve stayed a bit longer in that bubble that felt a million miles away from reality but nobody can escape from real life forever so back to Glasgow it was for us. But that first taste of travelling has had John and I talking about exploring more places in Scotland and then who knows, maybe further afield once things get back to ‘normal’, whatever and whenever that is.