Our Family Road Trip to Scotland’s Stunning Highlands
Hey there, adventure-seekers! I’ve got quite the story to share with you today. In October 2021, my family and I embarked on a memorable road trip through the enchanting Scottish Highlands. No, it wasn’t just any family trip; it was a journey through some of the most awe-inspiring natural landscapes and historic sites you can imagine. So, grab a cup of your favorite brew, sit back, and let me take you on a virtual tour of our Scottish escapade.
The Scottish Highlands have long been celebrated for their rugged landscapes, historic castles, and warm hospitality. These regions are renowned for their unspoiled natural beauty, from mist-shrouded mountains to serene lochs, and lush valleys. This region has a mystical aura that captivates the hearts of travelers. If you’re a fan of nature, this place is a goldmine.
Before we dive into the nitty-gritty of our trip, let’s briefly brush up on the history of the Scottish Highlands. It’s a place with a deep-rooted history, characterized by ancient clans, battles, and traditions, and has been witness to a fair share of conflicts and heritage, giving it a unique identity.
Historically, the Highlands were inhabited by various Celtic tribes and clans. The culture of these clans was deeply rooted in a strong sense of community, loyalty to chieftains, and a distinctive Gaelic language. The clan system was the cornerstone of Highland society, where each clan had its own territory and was often embroiled in territorial disputes and feuds. This fierce loyalty and the close-knit structure of the clans played a vital role in shaping the Highlands’ history.
The Highlands also saw a tumultuous history of conflict and change. Perhaps the most significant event in Highland history was the Jacobite uprisings of the 17th and 18th centuries. These uprisings were attempts to restore the exiled Stuart monarchy to the British throne. The Highlands were a stronghold for Jacobite support, leading to a series of battles and brutal reprisals by the British government, including the infamous Battle of Culloden in 1746. This defeat marked a turning point in Highland history, as it resulted in the suppression of Highland culture, including the banning of the wearing of traditional tartan and the suppression of Gaelic.
The 19th century brought more significant changes to the Highlands with the Highland Clearances, a period when many tenants were forcibly evicted from their lands to make way for sheep farming, leaving a lasting impact on the landscape and population. It’s a somber chapter in Highland history, as it led to the mass emigration of Highlanders, particularly to North America. Over time, the Highlands have evolved from a turbulent, clan-driven society to become a region known for its stunning natural beauty, captivating folklore, and enduring cultural traditions, making it a unique and historically rich part of Scotland.
OUR ROAD TRIP
Our adventure began with a train ride from the bustling city of Edinburgh to the charming town of Pitlochry. The train ride offered us glimpses of the stunning landscapes awaiting us. We were treated to views of lush green fields, quaint villages, and farmhouses, setting the tone for our adventure.
Once we reached Pitlochry, we picked up our rental car and I, Don, took the driver’s seat. We began our journey through Cairngorms National Park. The kids, snug in the backseat, were fast asleep while my wife, Edith, and I marveled at the stunning scenery unfolding before us.
Our first overnight stop was in Aviemore, a charming town in the heart of the Cairngorms. This served as a convenient base for exploring the surrounding natural wonders.
The next day, we set out for the famous Loch Ness, hoping to catch a glimpse of the famous but elusive Nessie. Although the Loch remained secretive, the surrounding beauty was no less impressive.
Our road trip continued to Eilean Donan Castle, a historical gem perched on a tiny island at the confluence of three lochs. We were met with heavy rain and dense fog in the afternoon, which added a certain mystique to our visit.
From there, our next destination was the enchanting Isle of Skye, where we spent two full days exploring its dramatic cliffs, fairy pools, and charming villages. The raw beauty of this island was something we’ll never forget.
We couldn’t pass up the opportunity to ride the iconic Harry Potter train in Fort William. The steam engine chugged its way through the stunning Glenfinnan Viaduct, taking us on a magical journey reminiscent of the wizarding world. Afterward, we explored Glencoe, a valley steeped in history and folklore.
For the final leg of our journey, we made our way back to Pitlochry, returning our rental car and boarding the train to Edinburgh. The landscapes passing by served as a poignant farewell, showcasing the untamed beauty of the Scottish Highlands one last time.
Our family road trip to Scotland in October 2021 was a blend of nature’s wonders, rich history, and cherished moments shared with loved ones. Scotland’s Scottish Highlands will forever hold a special place in our hearts. If you’re looking for a family adventure that combines the great outdoors with culture and history, I can’t recommend it enough. Until the next adventure!