Tag Archives: sightseeing

The Old Man of Storr and the Fairies: Touring Scotland with Ciara Ballintyne

174 days! 174 days! In less than 6 months, I’m going back to Scotland!mensclub24.ru

Yes, yes, I am excited. Very excited.

Here’s some of the things on our itinerary while on the Isle of Skye.

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The Storr is a rocky ridge, and its easternmost face previously suffered a landslip which resulted in a series of spires and pinnacles. The Old Man is the tallest and most distinctive of these spires and can be seen for miles around. It is 50 metres high and described as ‘pot-bellied’, and has only been scaled a handful of times since the first time in 1955.

The summit of the Storr has an altitude of 719m and is the highest point of the Trotternish Ridge. You can walk out to the Old Man, but because the walk is so popular, the walk is often busy—especially in summer. However, the path is well-maintained, and the walk worth it for the views across Raasay and Rona to the Scottish Mainland.

I would love to do this walk, but from what I’ve read it’s a 2 hour plus round trip. Not only am I unsure if that’s a good idea with the kids (my youngest won’t yet be 4 when we go), but my Dad has also had a heart transplant and I’m not sure if the terrain will be too rough for him. This one will be a ‘see how we go’ item.

The Fairy Pools

The Fairy Pools sit at the foot of the Black Cuillins near Glenbrittle—beautiful crystal clear pools with a series of waterfalls. I’m told you can swim in them, but I’m a little leery of that—for two reasons, one being the natural hesitance I have to ‘wild swim’ given the things you can find in Australian waters, and second being I often think it’s too cold to swim here, much less in Scotland! I doubt I’ll be getting in the water, but my eldest daughter wants to look for the fairies.

I am considering seeing the Fairy Pools as part of a day trip. It might make the day a bit easier with the kids and Dad so everyone doesn’t get so tired and we can see a whole bunch more. The Fairy Dust trail with Tour Skye goes to the Fairy Pools, the Fairy Glen, the Fairy Bridge, and Dunvegan Castle.

Ciara Ballintyne is visiting Scotland in 2016 – join her on a virtual tour of Scotland and other parts of Great Britain as she plans her trip. Somewhere you think she should go or stay? Please comment!

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The Highland Club and Dunrobin Castle: Touring Scotland with Ciara Ballintyne

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We’re booked! Just this week I made our reservation for the Glenlochy Apartment at The Highland Club at Fort Augustus. The ‘club’ is really a large set of independently owned, self-catering apartments set in a Benedictine Monastery and its surrounds, all on the shores of Loch Ness.

To me, it looks like a balance between self-catering and a hotel – you can cook and launder in your own rooms, but club facilities include a pool, kids’ playground, giant chess set and onsite restaurant, among others! One reviewer described it as being like “staying at Hogwarts”.

We’ll be here for five nights, and will use it as a base to tour as far north as we’ll get this trip. While I desperately wanted to do the North Coast 500, after trying to make it happen I conceded that large amounts of driving with a 3 and 6yo in the car is not conducive to a relaxing holiday. So maybe that’s a next time trip. This time, however, I think we will venture as far afield as Culloden, Dunrobin Castle and Inverness from The Highland Club.

Dunrobin Modified

This is one of Scotland’s ‘fairy-tale’ castles, has been continuously inhabited since the 1300s, and is the largest castle in the Northern Highlands. It has 189 rooms! The mind boggles. Can I takes notes? Do you think my family will mind?

Dunrobin Castle overlooks the Moray Firth just north of Dornoch, and is set in its own formal grounds inspired by gardens at Versailles. Twice daily falconry demonstrations are run at 11:30am and 2pm, although you can’t have a go yourself here. There are other places in Scotland where you can, however.

It’s a bit of a hike from Fort Augustus, but I think it will be OK as a day trip. We would drive that far for a day trip in Sydney, so why not?

This one surprised me when I stumbled across it while researching the North Coast 500. Chocolate is not what comes to mind when I think Scotland, but apparently it has quite a thriving community of artisan chocolatiers. In Inverness, you can join a walking tour with The Chocolate Place that will take you on a walking tour around Inverness Old Town, with stops (and chocolate, of course!) at six different locations.

Ciara Ballintyne is visiting Scotland in 2016 – join her on a virtual tour of Scotland and other parts of Great Britain as she plans her trip. Somewhere you think she should go or stay? Please comment!

If you enjoyed this post, please feel free to check out my previous posts if you haven’t already. If you’re finding yourself here often, subscribe to the blog or sign-up to my newsletter.

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The Crannog Centre and Library of Innerpeffray: Touring Scotland With Ciara Ballintyne

Crannog

So after my initial excitement that the date of our departure had rolled around, marking 366 days until we leave for Scotland, I am now faced with the depressing reality it is almost one year to the date of our departure home. How time flies…. Still – 344 days to go!

After more than a week in Scotland, we’ll be driving from Stirlingshire to Fort Augustus, via Perthshire. Yes, that’s arguably the long way around, but since we’re not really visiting Perthshire, this route gives us the opportunity to see a few things we otherwise wouldn’t – not to mention breaking up a five hour drive into several manageable pieces.


The Crannog Centre

This interactive centre demonstrates Iron Age life with a reconstructed loch dwelling (crannog). The thatched roundhouse provides a museum on the water, with outside activities including dressing up in costume and attempting crafts like bread-making and drilling. Recently some writer friends and I lamented our inability to make fire without matches – you know, in the event of the zombie apocalypse or the like. So this might be my chance to rectify the situation!

Library of Innerpeffray

Library of Innerpeffray

The Library of Innerpeffray

Scotland’s oldest lending library, and now a museum. It was recommended to me by Helen Grant, author of The Glass Demon (which, by the way, is a good read – check out my review). The library’s collection includes books from the 16th and 17th century to the present day, and visitors are permitted to handle the books. You can also view the Borrowers’ Register, which records the people who came to borrow a book.

Falls of Bruar

The Falls of Bruar

A series of waterfalls not far from Pitlochry, which can be reached by following the signs from the House of Bruar carpark. There is both a short and a long route, depending on how much time you have – I suspect for us the short route will be in order, given the age of our kids.

Scone Palace

Alas, we won’t be going close enough to Perth to see Scone Palace. Something to add to my list for the next trip!





Touring Scotland with Ciara Ballintyne

Ciara Ballintyne is visiting Scotland in 2016 – join her on a virtual tour of Scotland and other parts of Great Britain as she plans her trip. Somewhere you think she should go or stay? Please comment!

If you enjoyed this post, please feel free to check out my previous posts if you haven’t already. If you’re finding yourself here often, subscribe to the blog or sign-up to my newsletter.

Don’t forget to share the love and spread the word on Twitter, Facebook or StumbleUpon (or other social networking site of your choice) if you know other people who might also enjoy this.

Thanks for stopping by and visiting!

St Andrews and Fernie Castle: Touring Scotland with Ciara Ballintyne

The Treehouse

In 365 from days from the time of posting this, we will be landing in London… Squee! The countdown is on.

But the trip isn’t all about me, and hubby has asked to do some things he’d like. So I’m packing him and Dad off to go do some golfing. They’re going to hire some clubs and play a few founds, but the absolute definite and first stop will be St Andrews Links – not the Old Course, because neither of them meets the handicap requirements, but one of the others. St Andrews Links has seven courses, including the Old Course and the 9 hole Balgove, so I am sure they can find something to please them. Good thing we’re not going this year, as St Andrews Links is closed the entire month of July for the British Open! Next year it will be at Royal Troon, so we’re all good.

St Andrews

My husband and I stopped by St Andrews just for a look when we were there in 2008. My main recollection was that it was raining. I’m pretty sure it rained every day we were in Scotland!

The plan is that we’ll stay near St Andrews our third night in the United Kingdom, after having stopped to see Caerlaverock Castle on our drive up from York (yes, I am well aware this is the absolute definition of ‘scenic route’, but there you have it.) The next morning hubby and Dad will be up bright and early and off to play golf, while Mum and I enjoy a late sleep in (ha, yeah right), a leisurely breakfast (kids, stop hitting each other over the head with the utensils!) and then ferry the kids to our next destination, Dalnair Castle Lodge in the Loch Lomond/Trossachs area. We have no particular plans for the day, so I guess we’ll stop wherever we damn well please and eat whatever we damn well want. Good thing we have a GPS, or the boys might beat us to our destination.

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For our St Andrews stay, I have my eye on Fernie Castle. We stayed here in 2008 as well, albeit in the Treehouse Suite! Check it out, this place is awesome, and I totally want a bathroom with unicorns painted on the walls.

We’ll be staying in the main castle hotel for this trip, and that has its own charm. I mean, we’ll be staying in a castle. How cool is that? I recall the food was great – this was the place that gave hubby his love of black pudding (ew, just ew) – and the ambience of the bar is so cool. They call it The Keep Bar and I just kept looking at the barrel vaults and feeling like I was in a fantasy novel. Yes, I am that nerd, taking notes and doing research while on holiday.

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Touring Scotland with Ciara Ballintyne

Ciara Ballintyne is visiting Scotland in 2016 – join her on a virtual tour of Scotland and other parts of Great Britain as she plans her trip. Somewhere you think she should go or stay? Please comment!

If you enjoyed this post, please feel free to check out my previous posts if you haven’t already. If you’re finding yourself here often, subscribe to the blog or sign-up to my newsletter.

Don’t forget to share the love and spread the word on Twitter, Facebook or StumbleUpon (or other social networking site of your choice) if you know other people who might also enjoy this.

Thanks for stopping by and visiting!

Fort William and Our Itinerary: Touring Scotland with Ciara Ballintyne

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This is it. It’s happening.

It’s been 7 years since we returned from Scotland and said we were going back, and 18 months or so since I started idly researching places we might stay and things we might do, without locking anything in.

Then on the weekend, I realised – it’s summer in the UK right now. Their school holidays are about to start. And when they are over, some people are going to start thinking about next year’s holiday – which is when we will be travelling.

I am a planner, so this was virtually a call to panic stations. The way I travel, this meant I essentially need to start booking accommodation now, and I didn’t even know where we were staying, where we going, or hell, even when we were going to be there. Mum and Dad are coming with us, and I hadn’t even nailed down definite dates with them. So I immediately started researching – which bore out my idea that I need to book ASAP, as some places already had bookings for summer next year.

At the end of my weekend whirlwind of research I produced an approximate itinerary – hurrah, now we know where we are going – and this is it:

So you might notice we’re spending a week in Fort William – and here’s a couple of things we might do while we are there.

gondola

Also known as ‘The Harry Potter’ train, this is the steam train that runs over the Glenfinnan viaduct made famous by the movies. It stops at the Glenfinnan monument, where Bonnie Prince Charlie raised his standard in rebellion, and then goes on to Mallaig, through some fantastic Scottish scenery along the way. We did this the first time we visited, but since we’ll have the kids in tow, we thought they’d love it and we should do it again.

Other sights worthy of note along the trip are Ben Nevis, at the starting station; Britain’s most westerly mainland railway station, Arisaig; the deepest freshwater loch in Britain, Loch Morar; the shortest river in Britain, River Morar; and the deepest seawater loch in Europe, Loch Nevis!

I only recently learned about this one – you can take what we here in Australia would call a ‘cable car’ up the Nevis range. The gondolas take you from 300ft up to 2150ft on the north face of Aonach Mor, the eighth highest mountain in Britain, and all in 12 – 15 minutes. Each gondola can accommodate up to six people inside – which means my family will fill it. Gondola to ourselves! The kids are already excited.

<From the gondola you can see across the Scottish Highlands, including the Great Glen, Ben Nevis, and even as far as the Inner Hebrides on a clear day.

Ciara Ballintyne is visiting Scotland in 2016 – join her on a virtual tour of Scotland and other parts of Great Britain as she plans her trip. Somewhere you think she should go or stay? Please comment!

If you enjoyed this post, please feel free to check out my previous posts if you haven’t already. If you’re finding yourself here often, subscribe to the blog or sign-up to my newsletter.

Don’t forget to share the love and spread the word on Twitter, Facebook or StumbleUpon (or other social networking site of your choice) if you know other people who might also enjoy this.

Thanks for stopping by and visiting!