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SCOTLAND

Trip report: trekking under the rain: lush nature and impressive coastlines, an explorer's paradise
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SCOTLAND: PHOTOS AND TRIP REPORT

Here below some of the most fascinating photos from Scotland. Together with the photogallery, you will find a funny and interesting trip report full of info and anecdotes describing the whole travel itinerary. If you haven't read them yet, check out all travel info and precise itinerary here: www.wildtrips.net/scotland.htm.

Scottish winding road
Life is good if you drive on this road, and driving on this road is good if you live through it.

SCOTLAND TRIP REPORT AND PHOTOS

Our trip to Scotland began in London on an Italian-licensed Volkswagen Polo. We crossed the whole England under pouring rain, until we got to the Lake District late in the afternoon. It was June, but the temperature was more end-of-October-like. The views were inspiring thanks to the quiet lakes, the flourishing vegetation and the elegant English houses. Fog clouds gently rose among the hills. We had dinner at a pub. We ate burger, chips and beer, joining the locals.
English Pub
Typical pub and typical climate of the Lake District.
The next day we drove to Scotland. The rain never left us, as good friends and annoying insurance salesmen do.
Surpassing Glasgow we left behind the Highways and we approached the Highlands. The narrow and winding Scottish roads did not lead to chaotic cities, but to villages, fishing ports and grazing lands. We stopped in a quaint town made of colorful houses on Loch Lomond, where I ate the most amazing smoked salmon and prawn sandwich of the universe. It was rich beyond belief, it was an explosion of salmon.
Then we briefly visited Oban, a port town overlooking a beautiful bay. It didn’t really hit us, so we were happy to continue driving towards North.
Oban, Scotland
Oban
The first destination along our travel itinerary was the Glen Coe, a green valley whose bottom was filled by a brilliantly blue lake. We liked it at first sight. The sky was still mostly cloudy, but the rain had stopped. There was an idyllic peace, a profusion of nature interrupted only by a few isolated houses. It was a little paradise (it’s funny how people on vacation usually define heavens places where there is nobody… perhaps we are all a bit misanthropic. Maybe being alone is the easiest way to be free. Maybe it is not true that hell is other people, as Sartre said, but maybe the others are our prison. Maybe it’s better if I go back writing about the trip).
Glen Coe, Scotland
Glen Coe. Beautiful, relaxing, a place to contemplate.

A narrow country road ran all along the lake. Driving was a pleasure, as there were no other cars. We arrived at our hotel, the Burnside B&B. We left our bags, then we continued until we reached one extremity of the lake. There was a nice pub in a castle, where we had dinner at sunset. We ate meat with haggis (sheep innards boiled in the stomach of the animal) and other things that it is better ignoring what they are but that are good, if well cooked (probably, everything is good, if well cooked).
Glen Coe, Scotland
Glen Coe
Glen Coe, Scotland
Glen Coe
The next day we continued our way north. We drove between green hills, lakes, fjords, cliffs and beaches. Traffic, highways and smog were distant memories
We stopped for a break at Eilean Dolan Castle, perhaps the most picturesque of the 400780 Scottish castles (this number is obviously a guess, but I’m probably close to the truth).
Eilaan Donan Castle
Eilaan Donan Castle
We arrived in Ullapool, a seaside village with a fabulous name and an even more fabolous appearance. It looks out on a bay that, at sunset, becomes pinkier than a gay pride parade. It’s also a lot quieter, but definitely less lively. In fact, this village, like the others encountered along the Scottish coast, offers few opportunities for social life.
Ullapool
Ullapool. A quaint and quiet fishing town, with the best sunsets.
Ullapool
Ullapool
Ullapool
Ullapool
We slept in a B&B with beautiful views of the gulf. The next day we crossed the Highlands to reach the far North of Scotland.
Scottish church and bay
Church and bay in North-West Scotland
Along the way we stopped at Loch Glenncoul where we took a boat trip on Loch Beag that led also to see Eas A Chual Aluinn waterfall, the highest in Scotland.
The navigation began under a grey, wet and windy sky. The lake had dark water and was surrounded by steep green hills and rocks. The waterfall could be seen only from afar and it was no big deal. It was two-hundred meter high, but not very imposing, perhaps because of the distance, perhaps because of the relatively limited amount of water. It was more interesting to observe a seal colony.
Scottish seals
Scottish seals
We got back into the car and we drove through wild landscapes until we arrived to Durness, surrounded by wild fjords and, strangely enough, by wild coasts. We slept at the Wild Orchid Guest House. In Durness we made one of the smartest things you can do in Durness and in Scotland in general: we went trekking. In fact, trekking is the best activity to explore Scottish rugged nature and to contemplate it in absolute peace.
Durness
Durness. Trekking is great in Scotland. The weather shouldn't discourage anyone, it's just part of the natural beauty.
Durness
Durness
It's also the best way to appreciate the solitude of those places. A good alternative may be to find a sailboat and venture into those stormy seas, which could be very funny but also vaguely stressful.
Our walk towards Faraid Head was exceptional despite the grey weather. There were cliffs, sand dunes and Caribbean beaches (well, my girlfriend had to wear ski gloves to protect her fingers from freezing, so actually there were some differences with the Caribbeans).
It was summer and we had to wear a coat, but we were also very happy. We met a ship wreck almost completely covered by the sand, and we also met the Puffins (birds that look like little penguins) and vantage points with gorgeous views of Cape Wrath.
Durness
Durness
Durness shipwreck
Durness shipwreck
Our vacation continued along Scotland northern coast. We stopped to visit the impressive Smoo Cave. We arrived at Dunnet Head in the afternoon. A photogenic lighthouse stood out on top of impressive cliffs. We stayed at the Northern Sands Hotel.
Lighthouse and cliffs
Lighthouse and cliffs in North Scotland
Not far away there were the cliffs of Duncansby Head, definetely one of the highlights of any travel itinerary in Scotland. A very panoramic path led us to the impressive rocky stacks standing in front of the promontory. Lots of seagulls flew over the sea and looked free and happy (but they always do).
Duncansby Head
Duncansby Head
Duncansby Head
Duncansby Head. Sheep must be some brave animals to walk near such steep edges.
Duncansby Head
Duncansby Head
One of the most enjoyable aspects of every trip, and especially of this Scottish adventure among lonely landscapes, it’s to wander along random roads, thus encountering unexpected and wild places. For example, one day, as we followed a narrow road along the coast, we turned towards the sea and we followed a steep dirt road.
"Watch out!” My girlfriend scolded me. “We won’t be able to get back&"
"Do you think so?"
"Yes!"
"Dunno… I hope so," I replied, enigmatically, and I sped up.
We arrived in a secluded bay surrounded by high cliffs, with an old concrete pier that jutted into the sea. We parked the Polo, in panoramic position, and we admired the surrounding nature. Obviously there was no one, apart from a lot of gulls and puffins… actually, no, we were wrong. There were seals swimming close to the shore. We didn’t expect to see them, and they didn’t expect to see us. Even the Polo, grown up in Italy, was rather surprised to be there. We all felt really at peace. Especially the seals.
Scottish bay
A random Scottish bay... but not the one with the seals!
Scottish bay
A random Scottish bay
Scottish bay
A random Scottish bay
From the magical bay (I recommend you to visit it along your travel itinerary, but I have no idea where it was... but it's easy, just turn left on a steep, dangerous road that inspires you). we headed to Glen Lyon, a green valley featuring a lake, some small waterfalls, picturesque stone houses, mills and very bucolic paths. Along the way we stopped at Loch Ness, a grey stretch of water surrounded by green hills, completely lacking sea monsters, as far as we could see. From Drumnadrochit castle it was possible to enjoy wonderful views.
Loch Ness
Loch Ness. Monsters anyone?
We stayed at Balnearn House Bed & Breakfast. All the places where we slept were welcoming and provided a hearty breakfast (with eggs and bacon and similarly fat stuff). The Scots sometimes looked rude at first sight, but they soon became friendly.
Scottish beach
Sometimes you might wonder if you are in the Caribbean... but when there is 14 degrees in the hot season you realize that it's Scotland.
The next day we visited Dunrobin Castle and its imposing and rich gardens. What surprised us most, however, was a falconry exhibition. The falconer had absolute control over his birds of prey, an eagle, an owl and a hawk. He let them fly free, but when he called them they came back immediately. He threw a bite of something in the air and the eagle, nosediving from I-don’t-know-where, grabbed the piece of food on the fly (I suppose it was something really delicious). Then the falconer made the owl fly a few inches over the spectators’ heads, and the owl came fast and it was so close that if someone had suddenly stood up he and the bird would have tragically died. But it couldn’t happen, because the birds of prey and the falconer were fully in control.
Dunrobin Castle
Dunrobin Castle. Home to some very interesting falconry exhibitions.
You might easily think that if the birds can be so well educated, it should also be possible to educate, with a little more effort, our politicians to behave well and do no harm. But no, this is apparently beyond human capabilities.
Then we visited the quaint fishing village of Crail and the fascinating, almost ghostly ruins of Saint Andrews Cathedral.
Crail
Crail
Saint Andrews Cathedral
Saint Andrews Cathedral
Our beautiful journey was about to end against a wall when the Polo slid on the slippery asphalt and slammed hard against a sidewalk. I lost control of the car, but I managed to avoid further impacts. The Polo, however, was hurt, offended and annoyed, and she began jolting and continued for some months, at least until I decided to have the convergence adjusted, the tire changed and the suspension arm straightened. At least, spending money for medicines is much worse.
The ultimate goal of our travel itinerary, before jerking back to London, was Edinburgh. So, after the solitude of the Highlands (which was not a bad thing, of course) we enjoyed a bit of social life. We visited the castle and the old town, with its vibrant bars. We liked the "Camera Obscura" museum, dedicated to optical effects. It was presented as an attraction for kids, but it surprised and raised philosophical and scientific questions. Maybe most adults don’t care.
Edinburgh Castle
Edinburgh Castle
Edinburgh
Edinburgh
Although in the dynamic Glasgow and Edinburgh lives the vast majority of Scots, the traveler will find the soul of this country in the Highlands. So, I have two tips for everyone visiting Scotland: 1) explore the country indulging in numerous walks, keeping always your eyes wide open in order to catch all the beauty of the landscapes and the colors and the rays of sunlight filtering through the clouds; and 2) drive carefully, especially on wet roads!
Water Lily
Water lily
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