Monday, September 21, 2009

Scotland: Castles, Inverness, Loch Ness, & More

MBA and I just got back from a fun weekend in the Highlands. We rented a car with our friends Josh and Becky and had a fantastic time exploring some really great places in Scotland. Our first stop was at Elcho Castle in Perthshire.

Next we headed to Scone Palace, a privately owned and operated estate dating back to 1808 and home to the Mansfields.

The estate also maintains land that housed an early Christian church and were the grounds for many royal coronations, including Robert the Bruce in 1306 and Charles II in 1651. Also, the Stone of Destiny was at Scone Palace at one point. They fondly refer to it as the Stone of Scone.

The chapel where coronations took place. 

The grounds also included a maze, which stumped all of us. It was fun though! Becky found her way through the maze first. The goal was to get to the fountain in the center.


After exploring Scone Palace -- which also housed incredible French antiques (including lots and lots of Sevres china) -- we headed to the small township of Dunkeld.


St. Ninian's Garden - commemorating one of the first Christian missionaries to Scotland.

Ruins of Dunkeld - the choir portion of the cathedral is now a Church of Scotland church and the ruins are cared for by Historic Scotland.

The Cathedral is set on River Tay.

Josh and Becky checking out the Tay.

MBA on the Tay.

View of the Cathedral from the Riverbank.

Dunkeld is also home to lots of cute little shops and cafes. It's on my list of places to return to!

Next we headed to Blair Atholl Castle

It's a magnificent estate that was home to the Duke of Atholl until his death in 1996.

The estate had breathtaking views of the Highlands.

 Blair Castle also had a garden called Hercules Walk -- I didn't catch the history of that name.

MBA taking a rest in Hercules' garden.
Ruins of a Church on Blair's Land

Next we got on the road and headed north to Inverness where we spent the night.
MBA in Inverness on the River Ness, which enters the Moray Firth.

Saturday night we ate at a place called Hootananny that served Thai food and played traditional Scottish music. Strange combo but it worked!

Sunday morning we went to the Battle of Culloden battle grounds. 

This area was completely up MBA's alley as he studies a Scottish figure who was intimately involved in these struggles in 18th century Britain.


Next we headed  to Druid burial grounds from 2,000 BCish. Wow! That's a loooong time ago.

MBA and me in the center of the grave. 
Exploring the burial grounds.

We then headed to Fort George - one of the largest military fortifications in Europe.

It's still an active base; however, most of its troops are now deployed in Afghanistan.

Just making sure everyone's doing their job!

The base is also on the water! It was beautiful out there. I kept my eyes peeled for dolphins -- sadly, I saw none.

Because of its location on the water, it was so windy. Even for Scotland, the wind was crazy!

After Fort George, we headed south to Loch Ness in search of Nessie. 

We made a stop at Urqhart Castle along Loch Ness.

We then drove south, hit Fort William, and headed east through Glen Coe. I experienced one of the most beautiful drives through Scotland. It was rugged, raw, and untouched by mankind. 

I was beside myself with the beauty. It was unlike any landscape I had ever seen.

On our way back to Edinburgh, we stopped at Crianlarich Hotel for dinner. I had Chicken Balmoral, a Scottish specialty.

Chicken Balmoral is a chicken breast stuffed with haggis. I know there's a lot of haggis fans out there who will be thrilled to know I partook in the haggis festivities last night.

After dinner we drove along Loch Lomond to Glasgow and headed east toward Edinburgh. This exploration was such a fulfilling weekend. I'm already ready to go explore more of Scotland!


Scott and Jenn said...

Have I mentioned before how jealous am I of your adventures?! I guess I will have to live through you for now... at least until nap times and bottle feedings don't rule my schedule! It's absolutely gorgeous! I don't see how you guys get so much in to one day or a weekend!

mary caroline said...

I want to eat at Hootanannys!

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