In late May 2008, Sam and I travelled to Scotland, a trip that combined sight-seeing along with family roots. Sam’s paternal grandmother is half-Scottish (Clan Fraser), with relatives still in the country whom we got to visit during our trip!
We spent our entire vacation wandering the highways and back roads between this, the “gateway to the Highlands” and Inverness, the “capital of the Highlands.” We stuck to the Grampians region and visited castle, towns, and whiskey distilleries all along the northeastern coastline.
We first arrived in Aberdeen by plane and rented a car. On our way to our B&B in Keith, we stopped to see several ancient Pictish stones — a good break from the stress of driving on the “wrong” side of the road. 😉 And here we stopped to take a pic with the Maiden Stone, located between Inverurie and Insch.
In the back garden of Craighurst, the B&B in Kent we stayed throughout the duration of our trip. That orange-and-brown bag is actually a camera bag that has proven to be a fantastic travel bag throughout the years! And once again, it’s going to look like I’m wearing the same thing in almost every photo, as I planned almost everything around this tan quilted coat, a few pairs of dark jeans, and my hiking boots.
Our first real excursion was climbing up to the Dunnideer Hill Fort, the remains of a 13th-century castle tower built within an ancient Pictish fortified settlement near Insch. One of our favorite memories from this trip was the picnic lunch we ate there, tucked into a corner and out of the brisk wind.
A sweeping view of Elgin Cathedral from its front towers. Mostly in ruins, the cathedral is still impressive for its scale.
Enjoying the gardens and grounds of Balmoral Castle, summer home to British royalty since Queen Victoria bought the estate in the mid-19th century.
Taking a picture break along the river at Balmoral.
A (foggy) view of Fraserburgh’s Kinnaird Castle, which was converted into Scotland’s first lighthouse in the late 1700s. We stopped to explore the Scottish Lighthouse Museum on the way to meet Sam’s Scottish relatives.
The beautiful gardens at Leith Hall.
Enjoying a quiet shaded lane in the gardens of Cawdor Castle. Finally, a pic of me in something other than jeans!
Sam joins his clan in spirit at their memorial gravestone on the moors of Culloden, just east of Inverness. The Battle of Culloden, which took place in 1746, was the last hand-to-hand battle to take place on British soil.
Urquhart Castle overlooking Loch Ness, about ten minutes south of Inverness.
Sam looking quite handsome in his tweedy blazer and earth tones, posing in the grounds of Urquhart Castle. After our trip to Loch Ness, we went back to Inverness for a kilt fitting at Highland House of Fraser. You can see shots of Sam kitted out in his kilt here, here, and here.
Taking a rest on the front steps of the entrance to Haddo House, a lovely and well-preserved 18th-century home.
Walking (very carefully) out among the Bullars of Buchan, natural stone caves and pillars formed by sea erosion along the Bay of Cruden.
Dunnottar Castle, south of Aberdeen. This was our final castle visit — and what a majestic setting! The castle sits on a peninsular cliff jutting into the North Sea and connects to the shore by only a thin, natural wall of rock that you glimpse in the lower left of the pic above.
We make it a point to visit a library of every new place we visit, as seen already in my Thailand and Vienna posts. In addition to the Central Library in Aberdeen, seen above, we also visited the Keith Public Library, a small local branch just down the street from our B&B.
Yep, it’s another vacation tradition for Sam to catch a photo of me sitting on a bench! Here I am enjoying the sunshine in the Union Terrace Gardens in Aberdeen.
Hope y’all enjoyed our break to Scotland. On Monday, we’ll be travelling back to the European mainland, to the Netherlands.