Guestpost by: Elsi Hasanaj
Last week, I was in Scotland. Most people think of Castles when I mention that, but this time I was aiming for something a little bit different than just a tour around historically significant places. I wanted to experience the wild and untamed nature of the Scottish Highlands and read the experiences from travel blogs. I traveled to Edinburgh by plane, and from there, I took the ‘First Scotrail,’ which got me to Inverness, the major city of the Scottish Highlands.
The ride towards the north was fun. The rugged mountains interspersed with green valleys and rocky shores made for quite the spectacle. Luckily natives could speak English fluently and were pleased to help and provide me with information regarding the region. I stayed at the “Inverness Youth Hostel,” which turned out to be inexpensive and excellent for my short vacation. I got most of my meals there. I spent most of the time hitchhiking and never considered the option of getting on anything with wheels. I wanted to explore the area raw.
I walked through spectacular natural places like the one used as the setting for many movies, such as Highlander and Braveheart. I was told by natives that, Knoydart Peninsula is considered the last truly wild area of Britain, and I could certainly see why. I enjoyed the thrill of walking in untamed nature, hills, forests, and pristine landscapes.
During the second evening of my stay, I visited the Eilean Donan Castle, one of Scotland’s symbols. That fortress dates from the thirteenth century and is located at the junction of three sea lochs. At sunset, when the mist rose from the lake, the castle appeared as if it was suspended over the water.
Highland from my Car
Equally beautiful was the Cathedral of Elgin, an imposing building of the late Middle Ages, almost destroyed during the Jacobite uprising of 1600. I was truly enchanted listening to the myths and legends that inhabit the Highlands.
The locals said that mermaids live among Sandwood Bay’s rocks, one of the most beautiful beaches of Scotland. I spent one hour walking to reach it. Although I wasn’t lucky enough to spot ghosts of sailors bewitched by the songs of the mermaids in the midst of the sea, it was still worth the visit.
Houses in Highlands
Of course, I would never forget about the famous Loch Ness monster. Thus I went to the Loch Ness Centre & Exhibition Experience. There I got to hear many theories about what lies in those deep waters: a monster, an alien, or the last marine dinosaur in existence?
During my long exhausting hike, I could not resist stopping along the Malt Whiskey Trail, a journey to discover one of Scotland’s most typical products, malt whiskey. Therefore I visited some of the oldest distilleries active in Moray. The whiskey was greatly delightful.
I was also advised to visit the islands that lie off the northern coast, such as Orkney and Shetland, but I did not find the time (I think I will read about it in a travel news magazine or blog). My vacation only lasted four days, after all.
I returned to Edinburgh by the ‘Scottish Citylink’ buses and then caught the morning flight back home. I can confidently say this experience was a first, and I may have managed to discover more about myself through it. “Failte gu Tuath.”