These four days took me from Inverness to Edinburgh with a few stops in between of course, so let’s dive right in. It’s kind of pathetic anyway, that I didn’t get around to writing this post until 2 months after my trip.
Day 08, 8 July 2016: Inverness – Fort William
The day started lovely and it stayed sunny most of the time and the dark clouds heading in when I approached Fort William only made the scenery more stunning. Typical Scottish anyway. I had a great time driving down along Loch Ness, the radio blasting Biffy Clyro songs, because the new album was released the day before. My first stop was Urquhart Castle, which I was able to enjoy in the sunniest weather of the whole trip. I stripped off to my T-Shirt. Yay ;-) But seriously, I really like this place even though it was rather crowded with tourists this time. But I was one of those, so I can’t complain, really.
My next stop was further down south at Fort Augustus, where I grabbed a coffee and joined dozens of other people watching boats going down the locks of the Caledonian Canal. And I can’t seem to drive from Inverness to Fort William or the other way without stopping at the Commando Memorial. For one because that hill offers such a splendid view, but also because it’s a good reminder of what the allied troops in WW II sacrificed and of the cost of war. Any war! There were soldiers dying, back then and even as recently as just a couple of years ago in Iraq or Afghanistan. It breaks my heart to see their photos and remembrance in the Garden of Remembrance up on that hill.
I had some trouble finding my B&B along Loch Linnhe, but after that had a lovely evening in Fort William, strolled through the city centre for a bit, had yummy Mexican food for dinner and enjoyed sunset along the loch.
Day 09, 9 July 2016: Fort William – Calander
I woke up to fog on the loch and the promise of rain and that promise didn’t disappoint. :-( I’d say it was the worst weather I had in the whole two weeks. It wasn’t pouring down as such, but still a constant rain for most of the day or at least a drizzle. Which made getting out of the car and go for a walk somewhere so not tempting. I drove down to the Glencoe Visitor Centre, walked through the exhibition, had some coffee and cake hoping the rain would stop so I could enjoy the valley a bit more. No such luck.
The rain let up a bit on my drive over to Glencoe Mountain range, so I got out of my car at a nice looking waterfall: Three Waters Meet. A group of three was trying to do a selfie and I offered to take the photo for them and we started chatting and it was lovely. Two were Scots with Pakistani heritage, one living in Glasgow, the other in London and they were joined by a cousin from California. We chatted about the beauty of Scotland and Brexit, of course. Like I did talk about with almost everyone I’ve met on this trip. It was such an amazing experience, because those Scots were very passionate about politics and their country. All in a good way. I very much enjoyed it. Further down south I wanted to get out of the rain once more and stopped for a coffee and cake at The Real Food Cafe in Tyndrum, which came highly recommended in my travel guide. And I totally agree. Great food, lovely cafe, quite busy though, but that’s a good sign, right? When I went back for my 2nd cup of coffee I chatted with the guy in front of the line and of course Brexit was the main topic again. Amazing!
It was still raining when I got to Callander, which was shame, because it’s a lovely little town. I’ve been there before and really liked it. After dinner the weather turned a bit better so I strolled around for a bit. And I admit with this weird feeling that they had shoot “Outlander” not far away at Castle Doune two years ago and that Terry Dresbach, the costume designer still lives somewhere around here and thus has been or is wandering around Callander from time to time as well. I’m such a nerd in that regard.
Day 10, 10 July 2016: Callander – Perth
My inner nerd came out full force when I drove on towards Doune Castle that morning, because like I said I know Terry (and Ron when he’s in Scotland) live somewhere just around the corner and I admit I was on the lookout if I’d see a ginger cocker spaniel roaming somewhere on the trails along the road. No such luck though, so no Cuilean cuddles for me ;-)
I will spare you details of how after 10 incident free days I manage do damage my rental car on the last-but-one day in the castle’s parking lot? It was not big deal, but a nerve racking hassle to have it all sorted out with the rental company over the phone. *sigh*
I visited Doune Castle on my first trip to Scotland in 2009 and didn’t even recall that until way into filming of Outlander Season 1 had started. Ooops! But of course I had to return on this trip, especially as I’ve learned that there were a few new tales added to the the audioguide regarding Outlander and those were narrated by Sam Heughan. And it was lovely to hear and even more lovely to see “Castle Leoch”. And to realize how much work it must have been to turn this castle into a film set. The mud they had to put on the castle yard alone :-)
The weather was okay-ish in the morning, but still rather wet and it started to rain on and off later that day. Which was as shame as I was heading over to another Outlander filming location, Drummond Castle Gardens, which were used as Versailles in season 2. It is a lovely spot and definitely worth visiting, but once I had reached it, the rain started pouring down and I was worried about my camera to be honest, so I didn’t stay long and took even fewer photos. I had a quick chat with the lady in the ticket office / shop and inquired about the Outlander filming, because the drive up to the castle was such a narrow road. I couldn’t imagine film trucks getting up there comfortable and as I had learned the crew had been allowed to enter via the back roads, which were the road visitors had to take out as well.
The rest of the day was rather uneventful. I drove right past the T in the park festival. Right along the VIP / Band entrance maybe even. At least it looked important ;-), but I headed on towards Perth. Even though Frank Turner was playing at T that afternoon. But as I’m not a festival type, that was ok. I stopped in Crieff, which looked pretty desolated even for a Sunday afternoon. But I found a lovely place to have some coffee and scones, the Blue Flax Tea Room. If you ever pass through Crieff, I’d recommend stopping there.
I had chosen a different B&B in Perth on my return trip and it was lovely. Run by a sweet gay couple, with adorable puppies in the yard and a very yummy breakfast in the morning. Pancakes and all. One of the best stays of the whole trip I’d say.
Day 11: Perth – Edinburgh
The last day of my road trip and the main objective was to get me back to Edinburgh and visit “Lallybroch” on the way down there. As I had enough time on my hand I stopped in Dunfermline to visit the Cathedral and Ruins, which were ok, but maybe I had had my share of ruins and cathedrals until then. They left me a bit underwhelmed to be honest, but maybe the gloomy drizzle contributed to that. I was more eager to get down to visit Lallybroch anyway, so I headed on and thanks to the lovely directions on the Hopetoun House website, it was very easy to get to. It’s weird to feel so excited about visiting a derelicted building, right? But I was, because it’s Lallybroch!
A lovely thing happened there: I ran into another German Outlander fan. One who doesn’t even live far from where I live in Germany. We chatted for a while and knew we’d travel back home with the same flight on Thursday. We didn’t sit close to each other on the plane, but met again on the baggage claim of course and somehow said goodbye without exchanging emails or such. I could have kicked myself afterwards. The REALLY funny thing though is, that a few weeks later a friend and I went to see Star Trek: Beyond! in the one of the few theatres which show original English (not dubbed in German) version and there the Outlander fan was again. Sitting in the same row. Just 4 seats away! It was kind of freaky, but also lovely, because then we at least added each other on Facebook to stay in touch.
Anyway here is Lallybroch…
And here are a few more photos from these days of my road trip. I’ll share some photos from Edinburgh in a final post.