I thought I was on vacation, and yet I got up at 3am to ride to Scotland!
Edinburgh is one of Europe's most beautiful cities, draped across a series of rocky hills overlooking the sea. It's a town intimately entwined with its landscape, with buildings and monuments perched atop crags and overshadowed by cliffs - and it's the coldest I've ever been in my life. First visit was to Edinburgh Castle, a fortress which dominates the skyline of the city from its position atop the volcanic Castle Rock. Human habitation of the site is dated back as far as the 9th century BC, although the nature of early settlement is unclear. There has been a royal castle here since at least the reign of David I in the 12th century, so it's pretty old and impressive! We spent our first day touring the Royal Mile, sampling whiskey, and just taking in all of the sights. FYI, they make drinks incredibly strong here.
On our 2nd day we took an amazing 12 hour tour of the Scottish Highlands. 12 hours seems like a long time, and we travelled over 400 miles!
Departing from Edinburgh we passed the imposing Stirling Castle, before making our first stop at Kilmahog. We traveled on through Rob Roy Country of Clans MacGregor and Campbell then over the desolate landscape of Rannoch Moor and the Black Mount to Glencoe, one of Scotland’s most famous glens, site of the 1692 massacre of the Clan MacDonald. This Glen was also seen in Monty Python's Holy Grail, Harry Potter, Braveheart, Rob Roy, War Eagle, and many others. Also, the Scottish despise the movie Braveheart. Like, a lot.
Continuing via Loch Linnhe, we stopped in the Fort William area for lunch then continue into the natural beauty of the Great Glen as we passed beneath Britain’s highest mountain, Ben Nevis. Travelling on, we admire the Caledonian Canal before arriving Urquhart Castle. Urquhart Castle is the oldest ruined castle in Scotland, dating back to the 13th century. The true majesty of all of these places cannot be captured in my iPhone camera. These places are simply incredible.
Loch Ness, 24 miles long and over 700 feet deep, is more famous for its sightings of the Loch Ness monster, affectionately known as “Nessie”. I didn't see the monster, but I was searching the pitch black water intently.
At Inverness, Capital of the Highlands, we started our return trip to Edinburgh, crossing the Grampian Mountains and the woodland scenery of Perthshire, including the Forest of Atholl, with an evening stop at the Victorian resort town of Pitlochry. Again, I was freezing cold.
In short, no one wears kilts, Mel Gibson is the enemy, whiskey flows like rain, and I am bad at reading maps.