st. andrews and the scottish highlands


loch ness

Now that we’ve been back for over a month, I suppose it is about time for me to wrap up the posts about our trip to the UK.

After some time in Edinburgh, we were so excited to get the chance to explore the Scottish Highlands a bit.  Really it all amounted to a lot of driving, but the scenery of the Highlands is astounding.

But first, let’s back up to St. Andrews.  We rented a car from Edinburgh to drive up to Inverness, and we thought it made sense to make a stop in St. Andrews for a taste of a small seaside town.  Because we didn’t have a lot of time, we decided to just spend the afternoon in St. Andrews on our way up to Inverness.  And we are so happy that we did.  St. Andrews was the surprise favorite of the entire trip.

st andrews

To start with, we had beautiful weather.  The skies were clear and blue and the sun was shining, which I’m sure is not all that common.  But it made for the most spectacular views.

st andrews

st andrews

We of course all known St. Andrews for the golf course, but there is a lot more packed into the little seaside town.  There is a University (famous, besides being a great school, for being where the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge attended), there are little shops and restaurants, and there is the most beautiful ruined cathedral I have ever seen

Wandering through the grounds of the cathedral is free, but you can pay a few pounds for a token to go up to the top of the tower, which is completely worth it.  It’s a lot of stairs, but from the top you can see the town, the golf course, the farms beyond the town, and out to sea.

We also wandered through the ruined castle at St. Andrews, which was nice (but the cathedral was much better and in my opinion is the one to choose) and then walked through St. Andrews University and down to see the 18th hole of the Old Course.  It was all perfectly do-able in an afternoon, but we immediately wished we were staying there for longer because we loved it so much.

st andrews

After leaving St. Andrews we drove up to Inverness.  There are so many little Bed and Breakfasts around the Highlands, and we booked one in Inverness ahead of time through Air BnB.  Inverness is a pretty quiet place and we walked from our bed and breakfast (which felt like it was in the suburbs, although I’m not sure it was) right to the main area downtown for dinner.

scottish highlands

To be honest, we didn’t explore a lot of Inverness though, because we spent most of our time in the Highlands driving through the Highlands.  And the best thing about staying in a bed and breakfast is talking to people who live where you are visiting and who can give you pointers.  Our host recommended a drive along Loch Ness that we LOVED.  It was a little road on the opposite side of the loch from where most of the tourists visit.  It was quiet and beautiful, with plenty of places to pull off and hike down to the little beaches along the loch.

loch ness

In the afternoon we drove down to Dalwhinnie Distillery for a tour and a tasting.  The tour was good and the whisky was very good.  Although it is the only distillery tour we did, so I’m not really sure what to compare it to.

The next day we drove back to Edinburgh, but this driving day was one of the highlights of the trip.  We drove back through Fort William and Glencoe, and it was some of the most beautiful scenery I have ever seen in my life.  The mountains, the clouds, the rain, the fog.  It was astounding.  We got out of the car several times to take pictures and admire, and at least twice I wasn’t sure I was going to get Gerrit back in the car.

scottish highlands glencoe

But we did and we made it back to Edinburgh to wrap up the trip.  We’ve both decided we want to go back at some point though.  I would love to have some more time in London and England, and I think Gerrit has decided he would like to retire to Scotland.

As always though, as much as we love to travel, we’re always glad to be back home.

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