Day three of our stay in Edinburgh, we took a guided tour of the central highlands that took us to two lochs in the Central Highlands of Scotland, as well as the quaint towns of Aberfoyle and Stirling. The careening van on windy roads made me a bit queasy and thankful for every breath of fresh air once we’d stopped. And once out among the woods and moss and quiet, there was nothing quite so restorative.
Our first stop of the day took us to Loch Lomond. We didn’t make it to Loch Ness, so I don’t know if famed monsters live under those waters, but everything here was absolutely serene.
After a quick lunch in Aberfoyle, we went on to Loch Katrine, where a few tour members boarded the Sir Walter Scott for a tour of the lake. The other boat on this loch was called The Lady of the Lake, making the boathouse here practically a shrine to Sir Scott!
Since I don’t know much Scottish poetry, the two poems that came to mind while walking these woods were Robert Frost’s—“The Road Not Taken” and one line in particular from “Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening”…
The woods are lovely, dark and deep…
I couldn’t have said it better. These birches were so inviting… I just wanted to ramble in the woods!
Moss everywhere. It really does soften the woods and make them lovely, dark and deep.
This moss looked like a furry creature straight out of a Miyazaki film!
My camera doesn’t capture it quite adequately, but this grassy plant has a soft glow that makes it look like a constellation growing on the forest floor. I can only imagine how beautiful this would be, glistening with dew in the early morning light. Mystical!
From Loch Katrine we took the Duke’s Pass, a dizzingly nauseating shortcut through the glens. I loved the wind turbines in the distance, though you can barely see them in this photo.
I really wanted to see some of these adorably hairy Scottish cows. The driver anticipated this wish (I’m sure it’s a common one) and gave us a quick two-minute stop to see these fellas. It was far too cursory, but at least I got to see them!
Our next and last stop was Stirling. The rest of the tour group went to see Stirling Castle, but I decided to walk around the town instead, since I’ve been to quite a few castles and palaces lately.
(They really do kind of start to look the same after a while… That said, I really did think Edinburgh Castle was pretty special. Definitely one of my faves, as medieval castles go.)
At Stirling Castle, a statue of Robert the Bruce, of Braveheart fame. Though of course our guide was quick to point out how preposterously fictionalized parts of it were… it’s still a great film. Off in the distance is the William Wallace Monument, which glistens beautifully in the sunlight.
Only problem was, there was no sunlight, so even in this photo you can barely make it out against the misty mountains. But it’s there, and I promise it’s a lot more imposing than it looks here.
I just fell in love with the ancient Mars Wark gate. It’s just left in its state of semi disrepair, with a beautiful and obviously new gate fitted in the frame, but with flowers growing over the ruined walls and hollow window frames. And though it just kind of stands there with no seeming attempt to add to it or buttress it, from the front view its crumbling walls blend right into the church and churchyard.
I warmed up with a pot of tea at the aptly-named Portcullis just below the castle wall.
Back in Edinburgh, we had dinner at Metropole. Again, Edinburgh’s food scene did not disappoint. This dish was delish–salmon on a bed of sweet potato fries and assorted veggies. (They used some fancy word, but I forgot the name.)
All told, I loved how quiet the day was, especially the beautiful walk along Loch Katrine. Only wish I’d had more time to explore further up into the highlands! Scotland is definitely on my list of places to come back to—hopefully sometime when it’s actually warm, and maybe a little sunny!