Tour de Highlands & ‘Shire w. Family

Good thing we have 4 bedrooms now because my Aunt and 2 cousins came to visit {3 full bathrooms don’t hurt either}. My Aunt had been to Scotland before and really wanted to explore some more of the highlands, while my cousins haven’t been to the UK and decided to spend some time in London before coming up north. So the first 3 days were dedicated to pursuing the beauty of Scotland in the highlands with just my aunt and I while E stayed home and puppy-sat.  When my cousins got up to Scotland we stuck around the ‘shire.

My Aunt got in on Friday afternoon and after dinner pretty much headed straight to bed. We had an early morning on Saturday! It was a rainy day but that never stops anything in Scotland. We took a scenic route and headed up to the Moray coast, stopping along some cute fishing towns: Portsoy, Portknockie, and Lossiemouth. Then headed west to the Inverness area to check out the Culloden Battlefield. I’m not a huge war history/battlefield person but I really enjoyed this. I really just enjoy Scotland’s history and secretly wish I was Scottish {Irish will have to do….}. If you’re in the area- definitely check it out. And it’s part of the National Trust of Scotland so my membership paid for my ticket- score!

We then went on to Loch Ness and did the 2-hour cruise, which went to Urquhart Castle where we got off the boat for an hour and then headed back. It was really interesting and quite pretty as by this time the sun was out.DSC_0025 DSC_0034DSC_0049 DSC_0041

We then took a recommendation and swung by Invermoriston. I’m not sure if we missed whatever everyone was recommending, but we were underwhelmed and I wouldn’t recommend the trip. Especially as it was an extra 30 minutes out of the way. We went on to Dalrachney Lodge where we were having dinner and staying for the night. It wasn’t my top B&B experience, but it was nice and worked out just fine.

On Sunday morning we had breakfast and then headed to the Cairn Gorm Mountain ski range to take the Funicular railway up to the {almost} top and then do the guided walking tour to the very top.   We bought the tickets in advance and in the beginning it was just going to be the two of us and Sammy our Scottish Trail Blazer…but we ended up getting 6 other people to join us. The reason why you need tickets is that you’re not allowed to hike to the top from the Funicular railway without the guide and it only runs at 10:30 and 1pm and can ONLY take 10 people most. I guess I didn’t need to get the tickets in advance for this day, but I imagine a weekend you would. So up we went. Munro {kinda, sorta} bagged.IMG_0329 DSC_0102

We then walked around a little of Loch an Eilean and got some pics of Eilean Donan Castle before heading back to Aberdeen.DSC_0124

On Monday we headed out to Glen Cova for a 5k walk out to Corrie Fee, which is described as, “Like a giant stone armchair, Corrie Fee is a wild amphitheatre of rocky landscape sculpted by the power of ice and water.” It was pretty impressive and we were happy that the 5k walk back was all downhill.DSC_0186 DSC_0193 DSC_0197 DSC_0200 DSC_0176

After we headed over to Queen’s View in Aberfeldy to take in what claims to be one of the most photographed sites in Scotland. Yes, it was beautiful…but I wouldn’t say worth the trip unless it’s on the way.

Generally believed to be named after Queen Victoria who took tea here in 1866, the viewpoint actually commemorates Queen Isabella, wife of Robert the Bruce who ruled Scotland between 1306 and 1329.DSC_0234

On Tuesday my two cousins arrived. As soon as they got off the plane we set off for some proper afternoon tea. We headed for a new venue that I haven’t been to before, but heard it was very male friendly. It did not disappoint that’s for sure. Rich wood paneling and tartan. Really nice time.IMG_0385

I'm really good at afternoon tea.

I’m really good at afternoon tea.

Wednesday with the typical sites around Aberdeenshire: Slains Castle and Bullers of Buchan followed by a lovely lunch at Cock and Bull complete with Haggis Balls, Scotch Eggs, Cullen Skink, and Sticky Toffee Pudding. BOOM.

Cousins with {new} slains Castle in the background

Cousins with {new} slains Castle in the background

When we returned home E was off work and we set off to Lawn Bowl. The cousins wanted to go curling but alas, it’s not curling season. So we settled for Lawn Bowling where they didn’t take credit card and of course then allowed us to play for free. Where we then mocked their sport and made up our own rules yelling things like, “He’s going for the two-fer” and “That’s a walk-off!” while generally taunting across the court.xLawnBowling2LaurenIMG_0351 xLawnBowling6KevLauren

After such an adventure filled day, the proper ending could only be Scotch and watching Braveheart.IMG_0357

Thursday was the last day and my clan and I went downtown for tartan cufflinks and pictures in front of Willy Boy. IMG_9504
Then when E got off work we headed down to Stonehaven. The crew walked to Dunnottar castle while I met them on the other side. After we headed to our favorite pub for some snacks and drinks, before getting in a ridiculously long line for Scotland’s Best Fish and Chips. These really might be the best fish and chips in the UK….IMG_9519

Afterward the cousins went out for Big E’s Scotch Tour at Casc where a lot of Scotch was tried and sampled while I made awful faces anytime I smelled one. Overall, I think every one had a pretty damn good Scotland trip. I got to see family and hear some new and hilarious stories, see some new parts of Scotland, and share some of my favorite Scottish bits with my guests. Everyone wins…and now onto the next guests- the in-laws!

Handsome men!

Handsome men!

Big E's Scotch Tour Round 1

Big E’s Scotch Tour Round 1




  1. Bridget

    Wow! Looks like y’all had an amazing time! Steve has been dying to visit Scotland so when we get a chance to make it up there I will be re-reding this post for inspiration on where to go and what to see!

  2. david glatthorn

    Great photos. I Still want to do the North Sea to Sea of Ireland hike. Shame I couldn’t work it in while y’all are still there.

    1. Lauren (Post author)

      Who said you can’t?! We’ll be here next summer….claim your week now, they’re going hot for the 2016 season. 🙂


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