The Highlands leaves a bit to be desired in the accessibility department, but it makes up for it with bursting off the road vistas, snowcapped mountains, and on and off wet and dry season all throughout a cold winter day. If you’re a visitor with limited time, zig-zagging your way to the north of Scotland is best.
It’s 8 am somehow, and we’re all aboard the tour agency’s Ness Bus, listening intently to the driver telling us stories about Scotland over his microphone. From city landscapes to countryside views, I’m observing the changing of the views from my mist-filled window.
“It could get really gloomy up here,” says Ryan, our tour guide. He goes on to explain the correlation of the weather that day with the depressing history of Glencoe Massacre some hundred years ago. No one goes to Scotland without being told this bloody story of betrayal, so it seems.
We made a few stops before our first destination. We passed by The Kelpies, two 30-meter high horse sculptures and the mountain where Hagrid’s hut were supposedly located. And then we spent a few minutes strolling around the area and soaking up the eerie atmosphere. Ryan also mentions Braveheart, Harry Potter, and Skyfall, as we pass by some location where these movies were shot.
Our first destination: a Whisky Distillery located in the village of Deanston. Here you could have some whisky 101 and some chunks of butter bars. Small drops of rain interrupt us while we tour the distillery and a bit of snow bid us goodbye on our way out. We went here for the drinks and stored barrels of whiskey, I almost stayed for the sweet delicious butter bars.
A little over an hour past lunch, we arrived at Loch Ness to catch a boat and try to get a glimpse of the mysterious Nessie. This is my favorite part. Onboard a boat with a group of a mix of tourists: couples, cousins, friends, families, and a few strangers. All either optimistic or non-believers who simply want to see what the lake has in store for us.
Before heading back to Edinburgh, we dropped by this quaint little Victorian town called Pitlochry for dinner.