A Snowy Winter in the Scottish Highlands
I'm not sure where my attraction for the Highlands came from. I'm sure it had something to do with the Loch Ness Monster and perhaps seeing beautiful photos of the snow-covered mountains. Either way, I knew it was one of the places I needed to go while I was in the UK. I found a company called Highland Experience Tours and booked my two day trip to see the highlights of the Highlands. Our tour guide, Mark, was the most Scottish man I'll ever meet. He started us out on our adventure with lots of cheer and interesting information about Scotland that I'll never forget.
Our first stop was in Stirling, where we got to glance at the castle for a bit, as well as see the Wallace Memorial from a distance. This is the area that the Braveheart battle took place. Stirling is the gateway town to the Highlands, so it was our last chance to be out of the mountains before making the big climb north into the snow.
Our guide was amazing and let us stop off at the most beautiful locations for photo opportunities. Having come from a place where it rarely snows, it was so peaceful and nice to see and experience some. It was cold enough that it actually snowed most of the time while we were up in the mountains. Our drive led us through the great Glen Coe, a long valley with foreboding mountains on either side of the road. I was very taken in by the beauty of it all.
We took a stop quick stop at a place called Glenfinnan, which featured the same viaduct bridge from the second Harry Potter film. It's the one they used to show the Hogwarts Express on it's way to school. Our last stop of the night was in Fort Augustus, which was at the bottom of Loch Ness. Since there were apparently no hostel rooms available, I got upgraded to a room in the local bed and breakfast, which meant I had an amazing night of sleep. Before bed though, I took a little walk around the town in the pouring down snow and enjoyed the scenery in the dark.
The next morning we set out and made a short detour to a lovely little area that was the home to a river and bridge. I now know where I want my future engagement photos to be taken. This little area of the Highlands was picturesque and made me actually consider living a slow, quiet country life out in the middle of nowhere. To make things better, right around the corner was a farm with Highland cows, which are obviously the cutest cows in the world. Their fluffy, long hair made me fall in love, and we got to feed a friendly one that came over to us, looking for carrots.
Our last major attraction for the day was the mighty Loch Ness. I paid a little extra to take a short cruise around the lake, and it was gorgeous. The sun decided to come out while were out on the lake and I was elated. We got close to Urquhart Castle, and sailed around a bit while information about the history of the Loch Ness monster played over the loud speakers. As we came back to shore, I knew that this trip was definitely worth it, and understood how important it is to me in the future to come back to the Highlands again.
There were a few more stops made on the way back to Edinburgh, but overall, I was super pleased with the tour. I'm normally not a fan of an organized group tour, but there were only 5 of us on the journey, a wonderful guide (who kept saying things like "wee" and "oh aye," which are insanely Scottish), and so much beauty everywhere that I can't believe I hadn't been to this part of the world before. If I could have my dream, I'd own a cute little cabin in the Highlands and take winter and summer holidays there for the rest of my life, but we'll see if that actually happens.