Scotland 2022

By theurb03

I am a case study in the field of Outlander fandom. Little did I know that after I first watched the show on that long ago day in 2015 that I’d end up making three trips to Scotland over the years. Before then the country was in the backwater of my mind. In fact Scotland was never on my mind until I saw it in all its Starz-TV-show-glory with the promise of a sex tumble in the heather with Jamie “The Unicorn” Fraser. This came to be known as false advertising (the Jamie component I mean). The beautiful mountains and vistas in the show are all true. 

Scotland is one of those countries that begs to be visited again and again. For me it’s the allure of history, incredible landscapes, and some frickin’ delicious fresh fish! Granted no one there but Sam Heughan looks like Sam Heughan but I really enjoy exploring it nonetheless. Tis a special place.

Here are some highlights from my third trip. For the deeper dive into my first trip and the Outlander sites go here.

The Plan

After jealously scrolling through people’s vacation photos on New Years Eve 2019, I declared with a raised fist in the air (to no one but the walls) “I will celebrate Hogmanay in Scotland on New Years Eve 2020!” But then some stuff came up in March 2020 (maybe you heard?) and the trip had to be scrapped. In March of 2021 I impulsively reserved a cottage and booked a flight for January of 2022. All the while crossing my fingers that the pandemic would not interfere and it almost did. I bullishly persevered through the omicron wave rationalizing that if I were to be stranded why not be stranded in Scotland?

 

The Place

Perthshire, 3 weeks, Solo Lady Traveler

I stayed in Glen Lyon “the longest, loneliest, loveliest glen in Scotland”. Located in county Perthshire in the Highlands Glen Lyon is in fact all those adjectives. I used Unique Cottages to find my two bedroom cottage right by mountains and hills exactly as I envisioned it on that long ago night. I chose this place because way back in 2018 on my first trip to Scotland I visited Fortingall and was entranced with the area (it’s hard not to love any place in the Highlands). 

The Problem

Hogmanay was cancelled in the big cities. Not that it would have mattered? I was in the middle of nowhere. It was gonna be an early night for the sheep and I. Also, it was off season which wasn’t a problem just an inconvenience. Although many castles and other historical sites open in April for tourist season I was able to visit Stirling Castle (more on that below).

Covid & Testing

The stress of getting tested before my trip, two days into my trip, and right before I returned to the US was not a process I’d like to repeat. Of course Scotland instituted a new rule that fully vaccinated travelers coming into the country no longer need a pre-flight test after my trip. Thanks mate.

Scotland wants people to mask up in public and some restaurants enforce logging into their Track & Trace portal when you sit down. But always remember →

Stirling Castle

Fun fact: Royal families moved from castle to castle because between the lack of toilet facilities and the volume of people living and working at the castle let’s just say that the only solution was to move to your other castle for a few months and then repeat. And you didn’t want to be a villager living at the bottom of the castle wall. This information is not on any plaque but from one of the security guards who bestowed his knowledge unto me. History is fun (and smelly)! 

Books

The Watermill in Aberfeldy is a lovely book shop. I picked up two that scratched my curiosity itch while roaming around.

I will miss:

Fish pies and fish & chips (with tartar sauce).

 

Highland ponies and horse back riding at Creiff Hydro – this is where I learned that during warm ups in group lessons you can go in the opposite direction of other riders (pass on your left side!). That wasn’t confusing at all for this American I swear! 

 

TV shows in no particular order: Ben Fogle: New Lives in the Wild, Travel Man (with host Richard Ayoade), The Yorkshire Vet AND The Highland Vet.

Two hour walks everywhere because you can walk just about anywhere.

 

Whisky distilleries. Slainte!

 

Driving past my boyfriend’s ancestral home most days – Castle Menzies.

 

General Recommendations:

Creiff Hydro, Creiff – Great for horse back riding lessons and hacks!

Highland Safari Café, Aberfeldy – Stop by this cozy restaurant for tea and a sandwich. It’s located in the gift shop where you can also buy tickets for a Highland Safari excursion.

The Comrie Café, Comrie – Adorable restaurant with a bargain breakfast and homemade items.

Hansen’s Kitchen, Comrie – Great for some specialty grocery items (beer, fish pies, international products, etc)

walkhighlands.co.uk is a great website to find trail hikes big and small and read first hand reviews from fellow adventure seekers.

 

Things I learned about being in Scotland during winter:

  1. Drive real slow on country roads during winter time particularly around those bends. Real slow.
  2. Get the car insurance and don’t bother side stepping it for the credit card insurance coverage.
  3. Don’t stay alone for three weeks in a cottage in the middle of a glen 40 minutes from the nearest town.
  4. Get the car insurance and don’t bother side stepping it for the credit card insurance coverage. 
  5. Repeat steps 2 and 4.
  6. When starting a fire in the fireplace, just keep blowing on it or do that freaky British technique that I wasn’t brave enough to try.
  7. Scotland is still beautiful even in winter! 

 Category: Urban in Scotland

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2 Comments

  1. Reply

    So fantastic! Once again I’ve devoured your blog and have recommitted to our trip (cancelled summer 2020). I think I have a million more questions but thanks for the update! Go girl!

    1. theurb03
      Reply

      Glad to hear! Thanks for reading and have a great trip!

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