Scotland


Hikers in the moors

Hikers in the moors


As mentioned, on Saturday September 13th we and about 90 others went along to Simon and Iona’s wedding and 40th birthday party. When they married in December 2013, they had a small wedding ceremony with 18 people attending, so it was always their plan to combine something for it and Simon’s 40th.

It was a lovely, relaxed day at the Pudsey Cricket Club rooms. We all took along a plate of food to share, giving us an amazing lunch, Simon took along his pin-ball machines and they hired a jumping castle so heaps of fun for everyone. If you didn’t fancy jumping, lots of comfy chairs to sit and watch!

Iona and Simon cut the birthday cake

Iona and Simon cut the birthday cake

On Sunday after a brunch at Pudney Wetherspoons, to celebrate Pauline and Phil’s 40th wedding anniversary, we began our drive up to Scotland.We’ve done a bit of criss crossing and back tracking on this holiday so once again, we drove quite close to Scunthorpe at one point and Windermere on another. As Aussies, we don’t think too much about driving 190 ks to shop in Geelong from Warrnambool, but some here are amazed . We have found it’s not the distance, but the time it takes to drive it. The roads (including the motorways) can be pretty slow at times.

Peebles Scotland

Peebles Scotland

Anyway, we finally crossed the border into Scotland arriving in Gretna. We spent our first night in Lockerbie.

I’d heard how beautiful Scotland is, but arriving there, then skirting Glasgow the next day, I was sorely disappointed. I didn’t find it at all beautiful. However driving on here to St Fillans on Loch Earn, things improved a great deal. Finally we were amongst the craggy bare hills, driving along narrow, windy roads, through forests and tiny villages along the lochs. The sort of Scotland I’d imagined!

In Lockerbie, we stayed in a lovely pub/B&B overnight. We were eating in the dining room-enjoying a good feed and nice bottle of wine when a couple walked in with a boisterous, long-haired spaniel. I immediately started to sneeze (and sneeze and sneeze) so WE had to move to smaller dining area where dogs aren’t welcome!

B&B Lockerbie Scotland

B&B Lockerbie Scotland

Lockerbie was the site of an air crash in 1988 when a Pan Am jet bombed by terrorists exploded over the town. All on board and 11 townspeople were killed. The debris from the crash was spread over 2000 square miles. It’s a bit of a grim place, but the towns people fed all the emergency people involved, and washed and ironed all the clothing in the luggage on board after it was deemed of no interest to the investigation, and before it was returned to relatives.

From Lockerbie, we made our way to our cottage in St Fillans about 150 miles away. This puts us in the Perth Shire and what they call the heart of Scotland. It’s really beautiful!

Our cottage here is tucked away along a muddy lane running behind one of the local pubs. I’d say it originally belonged to the large house that sits in front of us, as the two buildings seem to have once shared the garden between. Sounds like we are shoved away round back, but we have lovely views from our sitting area of the lake! The cottage is the dearest (by 50 pounds a week) we’ve stayed in so far, but it’s also the nicest. It was renovated to a really high standard just two years ago and is just gorgeous. It’s just a pity that once again they allow dogs. Any dog staying in Scotland would mostly come inside wet and the place stinks of it-particularly the floor rug, one of the sofas and a throw rug (I had Russ throw it outside in a bag as it was the most offensive). Good on Australia for not allowing dogs in hotels, motel, cottages, restaurants, cafes and all other places. I’ve figured if you see a couple in a holiday spot here without one or two dogs, they’re not Poms! Love them, love their dogs!

Craigdarroch Cottage St Fillans

Craigdarroch Cottage St Fillans

Loch Earn by our cottage

Loch Earn by our cottage

On day one here, we took a drive around Loch Earn-it’s not a big loch being only about 10 ks long and 1.5 ks at it’s widest but it’s so pretty! It’s stocked with trout and salmon, so plenty of people fish here, and it’s home to a lot of water sports.

In the afternoon, we drove around Loch Tay then came home through the moors. Our little car nearly let us down on the road up into the moors. At one very sharp corner on a particularly steep part of the road it almost refused to go on. The moors were fantastic and even better for not seeing another vehicle on the way across. We’ve been across other moors in England, but always shared the roads with lots of cars, buses and lorries-this was such a treat.

Loch Tay

Loch Tay

As we reached the end of the moor road, we started to see plenty of grouse and pheasants and plenty of signs warning us to drive slowly and take care because of them. At the crossroads we saw a village hall and all the shooters. Dressed in their brown corduroy trousers, green wellies and peaked caps, all driving old landrovers, they could have stepped out of a TV series on country life!

Hikers in the moors

Hikers in the moors

Ben Lomond on Loch Lomond's eastern shore

Ben Lomond on Loch Lomond’s eastern shore

Yesterday (September 17th) we took a long drive to Loch Lomond. It’s considered the very best of Scotland’s lochs but we might be a bit biased now and think our little less touristy and more remote loch is nicer! It (Loch Lomond) is big (23 miles long) and has Ben Lomond (Scotland’s second highest mountain) shadowing it on it’s eastern shore, but we just weren’t as amazed as we expected we’d be.

Morning and the sun is shining on Loch Earn

Morning and the sun is shining on Loch Earn

Our little loch was looking particularly pretty in the morning before the wind got up, as was Loch Lubnaig. We stopped at Loch Katrine but didn’t take a boat ride on it as the wait was too long. After lunching beside Loch Ard, we drove up one side of Loch Lomond but didn’t stop. It wasn’t easy to access the shore and where we could we couldn’t get a car park. We drove on the Balloch and spotted a boat cruise-as it happened, the next was in 5 minutes so we grabbed our tickets and jumped on board. The town of Balloch was full of tourists and the boat was crowded but the hour long tour gave us a look at the lake and a really good commentary on the history of that end of it.
Morning and the sun is shining on Loch Earn

Morning and the sun is shining on Loch Earn

From Balloch, we headed home via Tarbet and the quieter end of the lake. We could have taken a cruise here and think we’d have enjoyed it more but it was time to get home and make dinner-Sottish rump steak so tender you could cut it with a spoon (well almost!), mushrooms, wedges and a big salad.We we stopped at a lovely farm shop for some local cheeses and cream, then made a final stop on the way at the Falls of Falloch for a walk and a few photos. What a great day!

Falls of Falloch

Falls of Falloch

One thing we’ve both enjoying is the roads. Scotland may not have the biggest or best roads, but with so little traffic on them right now, they are lovely to drive. It’s so relaxing after England!

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