I've been struggling mightily with how to / what to post about Scotland... it's long overdue and I wanted to get something "on paper" before the end of the year!
Here's our basic itinerary. I used a site/app called Wanderlog to keep track of everything!
Wed, Sep 21 -- Rusty & I arrived in Edinburgh. We took the tram from the airport into City Centre, where we met Kate -- waiting for us with her suitcase near Waverly Station! We grabbed some lunch and then hopped on a train to Inverness, where we stayed overnight at a centrally located inn.
Thu, Sep 22 -- We rented a car and drove from Inverness to John O'Groats and then on to Scrabster Ferry Terminal where we caught the ferry to Orkney! We stayed at a resort-type cottage Sep 22-25.
Fri-Sat, Sep 23-24 -- Orkney
Sun, Sep 25 -- Ferried back to the mainland and drove to Ullapool where we met the ferry to Lewis & Harris. We stayed at an Airbnb in Borve from Sep 25-28.
Mon-Tue, Sep 26-27 - Lewis & Harris
Wed, Sep 28 -- Took the Tarbert-Uig Ferry from Harris to Isle of Skye, drove on to Torness on the east side of Loch Ness. We stayed at an Airbnb Sep 28-30.
Thu, Sep 29 -- Torness area.
Fri, Sep 30 - Returned rental car, returned to Edinburgh by train -- finally visited Kate's cute apartment!
Sat-Sun, Oct 1-2 -- Edinburgh area
Mon, Oct 3 -- Flight home
I had an enormous list of "possibilities" -- sites to see, hikes to hike, castles to visit -- but there's only time for so much, y'know? We had pretty hard & fast deadlines with ferry schedules, reserved tour times for some of the sites, as well, and lots of driving on single-track roads, so there's a lot that we left for future visit(s)! (Nodding to my mum with love for that notion.)
Anyway, I just have to start and today I'm going to share some "stones" of Scotland and some blue, mostly moody, skies! A late September trip was a sketchy move weather-wise, but we were quite happy (and prepared) for the most part. There can't be rainbows without rain... and I could do an entire post about the rainbows! (I just might!)
HILL O' MANY STANES
Standing stones, cairns & similar historic sites were plentiful on our list. Some of them are a bit of a hike from the car park, others were... just... right... there! "Appropriate footwear" was recommended no matter the location. The significance of Hill O' Many Stanes is unknown and may always remain so. It is, literally, a hill with many stones, none of them very big. We had to stick to a path around the stones and that was okay!
CASTLE SINCLAIR GIRNIGOE
This castle ruin & its site was amazing! If you click on the link above and scroll down to photos, there's an incredible image taken from the North Sea. We were able to walk around & into parts of the castle. I found a stone that marked the unveiling of said stone "by HRH The Prince Charles, Duke of Rothesay, Patron of the Clan Sinclair Trust, on 1st August 2005 to Commemorate the First Phase of Preservation Works of the Castle."
On the way to this castle but not pictured, we stopped at the Whaligoe Steps and Cairn O'Get. All of these sites were on the mainland -- on the NC500 along the A9/A99 between Inverness & John O'Groats.
STONES OF STENNESS
Incredible. The stones are part of the Heart of Neolithic Orkney World Heritage Site, which includes Skara Brae, Maeshowe, and the Ring of Brodgar -- all of which we also visited. It just blows my mind that people drive back and forth to work or the store and THIS is the scenery they see on every drive.
We could see this church and graveyard, up on a little rise, from the Stones of Stenness and just had to find our way there! I could do an entire post on the cemetery "stones." I could also do an entire post on lichen & moss!
THE RING OF BRODGAR
Unlike the Stones of Stenness, we could not actually "mingle" with the stones but it was no less stunning. The photo above was actually taken from the car as we approached... it's less than a mile from the Stones of Stenness... just incredible.
We had such a great hike along the coastline to visit this "stone" "castle" in Orkney. Our path was a small part of a much longer coastal trail all the way to Stromness. There are so many great hiking & biking paths!
CLACH AN TRUISHAL STANDING STONE
Clach An Truishal was not on my list of sites to see in Lewis but we spotted a little brown roadside sign that pointed the way! There are lots of said road signs all over... and they're easy to miss.
This is Scotland's tallest standing stone, easy accessible... it's on a rise, so even more impressive. Land use & accessibility is different in the UK and in many instances, such as this one, you park and walk right past someone's house (or through their fields) -- in the US, I'd feel as if I were trespassing -- but not here. Anyway, I was charmed by the unofficial sign, likely made by the property owner, that pointed the way.
The other side of this broch (a prehistoric circular stone tower) is open, providing a cross-section, which we were able to enter and explore. It's on a hill in Lewis and the view is spectacular!
CALANAIS STANDING STONES
This site was stunning. We arrived after the visitor centre closed and, at first, I was unsure we'd be able to enter... but the site itself is open all the time, as many are!
CALLANISH STONE CIRCLE II
From which, if you look closely, you can see the Calanais Standing Stones almost in the center of the photo -- to the right of the big stone and just about in line with Kate's cowl. This site was on our list but we didn't intentionally seek it out... we just happened to drive by! I hate to say it, and I never thought we'd be "those people," but we did eventually start to skip by some of the standing stone sites! Terrible tourists...
Trust me, there are dozens of photos from nearly each and every stop that I could share, and I'm looking forward to sharing more from our trip -- and taking more trips -- next year!!
Thanks for coming along for the ride! I appreciate all of you and love connecting with you. It's been a weird blogging year and I hope to make some changes... make it less weird. heh.
Wishing you all a Happy New Year!!