My friend Sue and her teenage son (and former student of mine) Daniel came to visit me in October. They used my house as a base for a few days and when the half-term came we met in Edinburgh for a week’s holiday in Scotland. I decided not to drive up but rather to take the train and we planned to hire a car in Edinburgh so both Sue and I could drive. I really enjoyed the train trip – it was a great chance to appreciate the English countryside and to catch up on my reading – if I remember correctly, I was reading The Constant Gardener by John LeCarre, which I really enjoyed. We arrived on Saturday afternoon and spent the first two nights in a youth hostel. It turned out to be a party place, reinforcing my horror of youth hostels; I don’t see the point of a cheap night’s sleep if you don’t actually sleep…
On the Sunday we visited friends of Sue and Daniel who owned a farm a short distance from Edinburgh. They cooked us a lovely roast dinner and gave us a tour of their property. It was a lovely way to spend the day. On Monday we did the tourist thing in the city, and I remember being quite impressed with Edinburgh castle. The crown jewels were lovelier than the English ones in my humble opinion! That afternoon we took a bus to the airport where we hired our car. Our stop that night was Dumfernline, where Sue had an appointment to meet with local organisers of the Scout movement. Sue is something of an expert on Lone Scouts, which is a scouting group for isolated children, and the local Scout groups were investigating its possibilities for isolated Scottish teenagers. We stayed in a great little pub, with an owner who was as gay as a picnic basket and an absolute delight to talk to.
From Dumfernline we took a beautiful drive to Glencoe. We stayed in a gorgeous B&B with a woman who cooked absolutely wonderful evening meals. I distinctly remember breakfast at this place including a bowl or porridge served with a wee dram of whisky! Glencoe is beautiful, and I would love to return and spend much more time here.
We spent the next night staying on the Isle of Skye, and really enjoyed driving around the isle. The weather was really warm but alarmingly windy! Places we visited included Dunvegan Castle where I was particularly taken by the ‘Fairy Flag’ and The Museum or Island Life. We stayed in Portree overnight, and the next morning we made our way along the Loch Ness where of course we stopped to visit one of the ‘official’ visitor centers dedicated to ‘Nessie’. We continued via Inverness to Aviemore where we stayed. The television series ‘Monarch of the Glen’ was filmed near here, and I loved wondering along the trails at Rothiemurchus Estate.
On Friday we drove back down to Edinburgh, but not before we stopped at Dalwhinnie Distillery where I confess I discovered a taste for fine Scottish whisky. The time in Scotland was not nearly enough. I would love to return to do some walking in the highlands, and see much more of this gorgeous part of the country.