It’s hard to believe it’s been 1 year since I left Vancouver, BC for a 2 week journey through Scotland, UK. The end of summer was good timing for a vacation but it was difficult to leave warm sunny skies for the November temperatures of Edinburgh. I honestly didn’t know what to expect from the weather on this trip. Probably cold days and colder nights with the occasional rainy day. Yes, that was about it. Not to mention the bleak rolling hills covered in fog with the odd patch of greenery and even more scarce clump of forest. Bleak is actually “the” word to describe the landscape in Scotland. Beautiful though.
This trip was a little different than your average European vacation as there was a royal celebration to be had, a wedding if you will, mid-way through the trip. My long time friends Kyle and Crystal were to be married in a Scottish castle on September 7, 2013. When asked to be their photographer I accepted immediately! An experience like this could not be missed, not to mention the invitation to come along on the journey with their family up to Brora, a small town in the Highlands where the wedding would take place.
Arriving in Edinburgh reminded me how much I love European architecture, it’s so pretty. Every building has its own charm and a history of life and death that goes back hundreds of years. It was amazing just to wander through the narrow streets and look up at the enormous cathedrals and castles built so long ago. Holyrood Palace, St. Giles Cathedral and St. Mary’s Cathedral to name a few. They were all so carefully constructed that it must have taken many years to finish each structure.
Scottish National Portrait Gallery – Edinburgh, Scotland
Another incredible attraction in Edinburgh is Arthur’s Seat. It doesn’t seem like much as it’s just a grassy hill with some steep rock face but it’s one of the highest viewpoints in Edinburgh with an amazing 360 view of the city. Arthur’s seat is also a dormant volcano and home to a fort that is nearly 2000 years old. I made the climb one morning and it was worth it!
Arthur’s Seat – Edinburgh, Scotland
Road to Edinburgh – Arthur’s Seat, Scotland
We spent a few more days in Edinburgh then piled in the van for the journey through the Highlands. There were of course a few stops along the way as well as countless castle tours, each one very different from the other with too much history to take in with just one tour. Each castle had a cafe with scones and delicious coffee which helped to re-energize before the next stop.
Stirling and Doune Castle were the first stops on the castle tour. Stirling Castle is well kept and still “Pretty” while Doune Castle is very rustic, crumbling to the ground and no longer inhabited. It was the filming location for some episodes of Monty Python.
Doune Castle, Scotland
After a tiring day of touring castles we stopped for the night in Perth, a cute little town with a great local pub. I spent that evening and the next morning photographing the river bank near Perth Bridge.
Perth Bridge, Scotland
Scone Palace, Scotland
After a quick breakfast we were back in the van and on our way once again bound for Inverness. We made a stop at Scone Palace and Huntingtower Castle on the way. The grounds leading up to Scone Palace were vast and well kept. Hairy Coos came up to the fence as we drove in and we found out they were quite friendly too! The Palace itself was immaculate on the inside and had a beautiful garden as well as its own chapel.
We stopped in Loch Ness just outside of Inverness and called it a day. The hotel was right across the street from the lake. I was amazed at how big it is. I decided to wake up early to catch the sunrise over the lake and was welcomed with a very cold breeze and beautiful blue skies. I hoped to catch a glimpse of the Loch Ness Monster but nothing popped up anywhere on the horizon.
Loch Ness – Inverness, Scotland
I spent a few minutes browsing through the gift shop at our hotel before we left that morning. The number of little trinkets and souvenirs with the Loch Ness monster was almost overkill. There were some very interesting photo books with supposed sightings but I still left those on the stand.
We drove through Inverness on the way to Brora. It’s one of the larger Northern cities in Scotland with the usual beautiful architecture. After another hour or so we finally arrived in Brora passing by Dunrobin castle on the way. The castle grounds were massive and I couldn’t wait to take a look the next day.
Brora was a quaint little town with only a couple of main roads that crossed through the town centre. Brora sits right on the coast with the rolling hills levelling off with large cliffs down to the North Sea.
North Sea in Brora, Scotland
River Mouth in Brora, Scotland
Part 2 of Travels Through Scotland Coming Soon!