Thanks to such affordable airfare and living where we do, I have been fortunate enough to be able to add a checkmark next to many long running “bucket list” items since we moved to Europe. From seeing the tulip fields in Holland, to drinking my favorite beers in Belgium, to celebrating a quiet Christmas in the Alps, it has been quite a memorable year.
A trip to Scotland has always been high on the wishlist – for both me and the hubs. Spending our days fishing, hiking, and distillery hopping sounds like such a dream, one that I hope we can someday, together, make come true. This trip to Scotland, however, was a quick and solo one, meant to visit an old friend in route to meeting my sister-in-law in Ireland. With a familiar face to see and for just $30, why not?
Knowing that I was only going to be in town for a few days, and as I was visiting to catch up with my friend Helen, never did I think a day in the Highlands was possible – yet alone a day hiking there.
Thankfully though, Helen was in need of some fresh air just as much as I was, so to the Highlands we went…
Changing our plans slightly due to a forecast of high fog (how Scottish of the weather…) we ended up in Trossachs National Park where we hiked the beautiful Ben Lawers trail.
Though some heavy fog did roll in as we ascended our first peak, the rest of the hike was lovely, with blue skies and green grass as far as the eye could see. Offering a different, treeless, terrain than I am accustomed to, I was smitten every direction I looked, and the dozens of sheep surrounding me on the trail only added to the hike’s beauty.
When we made it to the top of our first peak the weather held off just long enough for a few photos, and then quickly moved in strong as we relaxed in the grass with our picnic lunch. I didn’t even really mind that my fingers were frozen as we munched on olives, oat cakes, cured bacon, mutton sausage, goose prosciutto and Isle of Arran cheese that we picked up the morning before at the Edinburgh farmers market. Mutton sausage, by the way, should be a requirement for all hikes in the Highlands… don’t knock it until you try it.
Finally feeling the effects of the sudden 15-20 degree temperature drop, we decided to skip out on the next peak and make our descent out of the clouds.
Enjoying a leisurely hike back down, stopping at one point in a sunny meadow for a break (which turned into a nap – can’t say I have ever done that on the trail before), we made it back to the car a few hours later happy and refreshed, and I think both really grateful for some time spent away from our everyday hustle and bustle.
Our day ended with a pub dinner of Cullen skink soup, haggis (again, don’t knock it until you try it!) neeps, and tatties, and a pint of the local stuff, before a two hour sunset drive back to Edinburgh.
It’s trips like these that make me incredibly grateful for old friends and for cheap plane tickets, and especially grateful for a day well spent outdoors.
Part two of my northern adventure, “Snapshots from the Dingle Peninsula,” coming at you soon!