A WEEKEND IN SCOTLAND

emilyjbenton_scotland

I’ve been meaning to write a few words about our weekend in Scotland because quite frankly, it was absolutely magical. I’m sure many people will know by now of my incessant love for Cornwall; I’ve been lucky enough to visit some beautiful countries but there’s something about travelling to the extremities of your own that makes you feel incredibly grateful for the world on your doorstep.

‘Every man dies, not every man truly lives’ – William Wallace

I was trying to find a quote to sum up the feeling of finding Glencoe’s Lost Valley in the photo above and happened to come across this quote from Braveheart, which actually could not be more appropriate after having learnt so much about ol’ Will during our weekend!


SATURDAY


We hired a car on Friday afternoon and drove just short of 300 miles north into Scotland. Home for the next few days was one of the gorgeous Craggantoul Lodges, which were a haven away from all other warps of life. The small cluster of self-catering holiday homes is just a stone’s throw from the shores of Loch Tay – to the north of Loch Lomond – and admittedly, appealed to me firstly for the stunning view from the hot tub on the front porch. This was how Saturday morning started, Prosecco in hand… It was so peaceful and quiet for the duration of our stay, I genuinely don’t remember seeing another soul at Craggantoul other than the deer we had outside our front door each morning!

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After making brunch, we set off with our walking boots towards Glencoe in the hope that the rain would pause for long enough to do The Lost Valley walk I had eagerly set my sights on. We pulled over at The Green Welly Stop for some snacks, which is to date one of the most bizarre, yet charming places I’ve ever been, and then continued on the truly stunning drive along the A82. As we got closer to Glencoe, we jumped out of the car to take a photo of *that* famous little white house and of Glen Etive (one of Skyfall’s most recognisable filming locations). Unfortunately, in my endeavour to be organised I’d left my bloomin’ camera battery charging at home, so we had to make do with iPhones rather than my beloved Olympus for the weekend… *eyeroll*

Whilst the weather was making it’s mind up, we drove into Glencoe itself and had lunch at the charming Glencoe cafe. Fuelled with homemade soup and traditional Scottish shortbread (yum) we put on our rain coats and decided we would set of in search of The Lost Valley, an uphill trail which begins at the Three Sisters. Rumour has it that the MacDonald’s used to hide their rustled cattle up here and my goodness, I don’t know how they ever got them all up there – it was HARD WORK! The hike was about an hour uphill that involved some scrambling in places to avoid the fast-flowing river. The reward at the top however, was so worth it.

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SUNDAY


We woke up the next morning to more *Scottish* weather and so quickly decided to abandon previous walking plans over breakfast. Instead, we drove over to Stirling to visit the Wallace Memorial and Stirling Castle, two famous landmarks integral to Scotland’s heritage. On the way, we stopped for coffee in a tiny town called Bridge of Allan. I’d clocked a quirky health cafe on Instagram called The Hideaway Cafe, which was unfortunately closed, so we popped into a place called Cafe 33, which did delicious shortbread. Can you see a trend here?!

The Wallace Memorial looks a bit like something out of Lord of The Rings and involves climbing hundreds of tiny steps to reach the top. On the way, the history is bought to life with interactive activities and we learnt all about Wallace’s horrific and bloody plight for Scottish Independence. The cherry on the cake was the amazing view at the top, although we didn’t hang about to enjoy it for fear of being blown away… the wind was savage! We continued our history lesson over at Stirling Castle with an incredibly animated and brilliant tour guide whose name I can’t for the life of me remember. He was just like Argus Filch from Harry Potter and took us back in time on a journey around the castle’s Royal Court. My favourite room was the Great Hall, which was so lavish in it’s day that the walls were painted yellow and adorned with Scotland’s national animal – the unicorn!

A yellow castle with unicorns on the wall? WHEN CAN I MOVE IN…

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MONDAY


On our final morning, we got up early for one final walk down to the Loch, packed up the cottage, and drove a few miles back down the road to the Falls of Dochart for a quick photo opportunity. I would highly recommend the pub on the bridge here, which has an absolutely delicious menu and an enormous open fire – the perfect place to cosy up and get your breath back after rock-hopping across the rapids. It was so windy; so much so that this photo certainly makes it look like I made some shortbread gains over the weekend! Windswept, we got back in the car and started the long journey home.

We had the BEST few days in Scotland and I can’t wait to go back. Next time I think we’ll take the bikes – that road to Glencoe would be an awesome climb…

emilyjbenton_scotland

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