The Scotland Highlands are a wolf in sheep’s clothing. Their exterior radiates a mysterious yet soothing jaw-dropping beauty, guaranteed to disorientate your senses for all the right reasons, without you even having to touch a drop of their infamous whisky. Alas, simmering under the fairytale castles, snow-capped mountains, glorious tartan and The Pretenders lies a bloodthirsty, relentless, full-on murderous past. I went for 3 days with Haggis Adventures and uncovered all the stunning and gory bits rolled into one!
Undoubtedly, Scotland has a bloody and fascinating past. A hell of a lot of families and kings were topping off each other in the meanest ways possible amongst those evil witches, pesky English and solo Nessie swimming somewhere deep in the darkest shadows of Loch Ness. Scotland’s past is gruesome but it sure is riveting and seeing the Scotland Highlands with a local guide opened the door to me getting the juicy historical gossip!
The grass is always greener on the other side and that ‘other side’ has been Asia for me. Sometimes you don’t know how good you’ve got it right on your doorstep. This English rose has never stepped foot in Scotland. Thankfully, I’ve redeemed myself. I teamed up with Haggis Adventures on their Skye High Tour and over the next 3 days, Scotland conquered my heart. Hold on to your horses, I’m going to show you the best bits of my Scottish Adventure!
A childhood dream! Dramatic mountains, never ending lochs, ruined castles and the ultimate hunt for Nessie!
As we set sail with our trusty wheels out of Edinburgh, bobbing along the roads with anticipation at what lie ahead, we edged nearer and nearer to the mighty mountains of the Scotland Highlands. Through the raindrops lightly pattering on our windows, we ogled at the iconic and modern UNESCO Forth Bridge, slowly taking us into a world most of us had been excited about seeing for a very long time! Halting at Dunkeld Cathedral, this was our last chance to take in the Lowlands before entering tales of bloodshed, lucky fairies and strange monsters.
Teacake Tip: Apart from enjoying yourself in the beautiful grounds and soaking up the exceptional stained glass, check out the dude buried in the corner here. Nicknamed the ‘Wolf of Badenoch‘, he was a serious rotter who did all kinds of unforgivable things. Make sure to give him a good telling off.
Ladies, calm yourselves, for our next stop was on the set of the deliciously romantic and historical TV series Outlander (swoon)! Lights camera action aside, visiting this recreation of how the early Highlander people lived had us all popping our heads into their houses to see what was going on. This hut in particular is where Jamie has his shirt ripped off to reveal all of the scars on his back (it’s OK Jaime, we could look at that muscular back all day).
As an extra special bonus, they had a real Hairy Cow pottering about in the village too!
Unashamedly one of the highlights for me was stepping into a working Scotland Highland Whisky Distillery to see all of the gadgets, gizmos and processes used to make the ‘water of life’ whisky! I tried my absolute best to pay attention but the cheeky tasting at the end of the tour was at the forefront of my mind.
Once we hit the barrels, oof(!) rose and berry aromas with malty undertones began swaying under my nose and once the glass hit my lips, ahh! Honey and nut, spices and a gentle herbal smoke tingled my taste buds. Now that’s a good whisky.
Silently yet boldly standing just one mile away from the Battle Of Culloden site that changed Scotland forever, lies these mysterious ancient stones. Estimated to be 4000 years old, your mind will run wild imagining the Clava Cairns’ purpose. It is speculated that they were a King and Queen’s burial chambers. Wander through the trees gently whispering in the wind and come to your own conclusion…
As we wove through the stunning Scotland Highland highs and lows, through towering rocks and sparkling rushing waters, the time to catch a glimpse of Nessie was finally here! With my nose eagerly pressed against the glass, my wide eyes flashed left and right repeatedly as the scenery galloped in front of me. The Loch felt endless. No wonder these sightings are sporadic!
I jumped out of my seat as I saw a shadow in the depths. Turns out those cunning locals are good at setting up plastic replicas of the beast to fool the likes of me. I still believe! She’s there. Next time!
We headed to Morag’s Lodge to calm down from the excitement of the day, eat some haggis, drink more whisky and get to know each other more at the quiz. We went to bed excited about venturing to the Isle Of Skye the next day!
Welcome to Neverland. Literally. This charming enchanted spot on the way to Skye is where JM Barrie spent his childhood in summer. That little house you see at the back? Yep, he was dreaming of crocodiles, ferocious pirates and eternal youth right here. Scotland has inspired many a writer including JK Rowling with Harry Potter. Go figure!
After studying Jiu Jitsu in China for three months, I recently spent my last week there venturing into the lands of Tiger Leaping Gorge. I took this photo and proclaimed it was the most beautiful scene I had ever snapped. Then the Scotland Highlands and Eilean Donan Castle happened…
Iconic! It’s one of the most photographed castles in Scotland. With camera in tow, I snapped this beaut from all angles whilst jumping around like an extra in Game Of Thrones. Highly recommended!
Before stepping foot on the much awaited Isle Of Skye, we paid a visit to the fairy doctors to have a spot of facial reconstruction. Legend has it that by placing your precious skin into these waters, you’ll materialise forever young thanks to the Fairy King.
The ladies legged it down to the waters and the men quickly followed suit! Natural healing at its best? We’ll see how my selfies turn out in a couple of years!
The touching story of The Old Man Of Storr is a tale I’ll leave to Haggis Adventures to tell you. The view however speaks for itself!
As we visited each place, I thought I was seeing the best of the Scotland Highlands but this day continued to give us even more mighty, epic and romantic views. When we pulled up to Lealt in the Trotternish area on the coast, with the fresh air and vast sea before me, the Highlands were really starting to touch my heart.
Dinosaurs’ hearts were also touched by Scotland don’t you know! Their footprints have been found at Kilt Rock, appropriately named for the pleats that appear within it. Can you see them?
To wrap up our day, we returned to the gateway of the Isle Of Skye to check into Saucy Mary’s Lodge and grab a spot of dinner. Broken yet still hanging on proudly to its foundations, this ruined castle standing atop a little harbour grabbed my curiosity by the horns. I just had to go before the sausages and mash. Grabbing my camera, I waded through the seaweed and rocks and reached this point…
Eilean Donan Castle was dreamy but this little spot is unreal!
WARNING: Scotland has another monster other than Nessie: midges! I was surrounded and covered by them here. They’re not going to hurt you but save yourself from being bitten by stocking up on Midge Spray.
The next morning, I slowly worked my way up to the top of the ruins and this was the view!
Magic and by far my most favourite spot on the whole trip! And yes, the sausages and mash are really good along with the beer and live music opposite the Saucy Mary’s Hostel!
Day 3 was a chance to start winding down and slowly work our way back to Edinburgh for the evening. To get ourselves off to a jolly good start, we made our wishes at the adorable Fairy Cairns…
The roads we took after making our wishes are monumental and have been featured in James Bond and Harry Potter movies. If only I had had a drone whilst I was there to show you the action! Time to load up You Tube…
Our final stop was a sobering one after the local ales we’d been drinking the night before. In a place of such natural beauty and awe was once a terrible and unforgivable massacre. Haggis Adventures will fill you in with all the gory details.
Before long it was time to head home! We passed Stirling Castle, found out the real story of Braveheart and rolled into Edinburgh with tons of tips and ideas on how to spend our evening in the capital thanks to our trusty guides.
I’m always passionately yearning for independence just as much as the Scottish, so the last place I thought I’d collect these fascinating experiences would be with a Haggis Adventures Tour Bus. Me, on a bus, being driven by someone else, with a set schedule? Surely not?!
Well ladies and gentleman, I’m officially eating my hat. Haggis Adventures asked me along for the ride, inviting me to dip my English tootsies in their magical Scottish waters and I loved every minute of it. Their trips are perfect for solo travellers like me to meet fascinating people, learn so much about a culture, get insider knowledge and concentrate on the views, knowing I’m going to see the best of the best! I enjoyed the experience so much, I will be going back for more.
The tour guides were absolutely amazing, the pace was just right, the accommodation was really good and the people I met were all kind, friendly and excited to be there too. I’m missing everyone already!
I recommend you bring the following things: