It was hard to leave Edinburgh. Partly because I had lost time being sick, and partly because Edinburgh is great. But we couldn’t stay in Edinburgh the whole time. Our trip planners wanted to make sure we experienced the variety of Scotland’s nature, people, and history, so our trip traversed the Lowlands, Highlands, and Islands.
Most of day 4 was spent driving north to Inverness, the capital of the Highlands. Leaving Edinburgh, there were three bridges that crossed the Fourth Firth (“firth” means river). The railroad bridge is on the right, the car bridge is on the left, and the new suspension bridge is farthest left (it’s not completed yet). There wasn’t a raindrop in the sky!
I’ll be back, Edinburgh.
Before visiting, I’d read that Scotland was a great destination for outdoor activities. As we left the built-up areas around Edinburgh, we followed winding rivers and craned our necks to see snow-covered mountains. We passed a few flyfishers, and I dreamt of wearing waders, casting my line, and catching a prize salmon. If you doubt that Scotland has an outdoor sport scene, just take a look at this list of extreme outdoor activities to try. Who wants to do some rap running with me??
stops and spots
We had a “pitstoppery” in Pitlochery. (I’m proud of that one.) Just enough time for a spot of tea and a distillery tour. 🙂 Pitlochery is, apparently, the center for something called hillwalking which actually sounds pretty cool. We did not indulge in any hills during our pitstoppery, but we did something equally as Scottish: tea, salmon, and whisky. Hettie’s Tearoom & Gift Emporium is a recommended stop if you’re hungry and passing through Pitlochery. The customer service and food was 100%.
That sandwich in the back was made with some of the freshest salmon I’d ever tasted. I wanted to bathe in that salmon. I wanted to offer sacrifices to the gods for blessing us with that salmon. I wanted to float down (or swim up) a river filled with salmon just to commune with them. Of course, sanity prevailed and I just ate it, but I have added salmon to my sheep counting when I’m trying to go to sleep. #salmonforsam
a wee dram
Someday, I will visit my favorite scotch distillery, Laphroaig, but it was a little far away and required a ferry ride or private plane, so I couldn’t make it work for this trip. I did get to tour the Blair Athol Distillery, though. Get this, every distillery in Scotland has it’s own natural water source! They’re all built next to springs! Such a great idea.
what is scotch?
According to Thrillist, “scotch is technically whisky (spelled without the “e”) that has been distilled and matured in Scotland. It is made mostly from malted barley.” If you’re nerdy like me, you can read the official Scotch Whisky Regulations. Speycide scotch comes from The Highlands, and it’s a little mild (in flavor) for me; I’m a fan of peat (which gives a nice smokiness to the scotch).
Pictures weren’t allowed during the tour, so you’ll have to trust me when I say it was cool, and I recommend it. The process of making scotch is an amazing chemical experiment between sugar, yeast, time, heat, and evaporation. Mad props.
Yes, I bought scotch, but you have to wait for pictures till my final post.
to inverness we go
On our way from Pitlochery to Inverness, we had to stop and take a picture of this historic bridge. Imagine horses and carts going over this steep, narrow thing in all seasons and at all times of day. Frightening but beautiful.
halò, inbhir nis
As I said earlier, Inverness is the capital of the Scottish Highlands. It’s name means “Mouth of the River Ness.” Our hotel in Inverness was The Royal Highland Hotel. I don’t recommend staying here. Ask me about the pigeon story. Stay in one of the many adorable bed and breakfasts.
Well, hello, Elizabeth!
Up next: Exploring the Highlands