Within the blindingly green and blue landscape the comprises Loch Lomond and Trossachs National Park is Ben Lomond, a 3,196 foot mountain on the eastern shore of Loch Lomond. One of the most popular hikes in the Highlands, the main path for ascent is scattered with tourists, all eager to see the famed Highland views for themselves.
We chose to hike Ben Lomond on the lone Saturday of our week-long vacation because the skies were blue and the temperature a perfect 70 degrees. We ate a traditional Scottish breakfast at the restaurant attached to our inn and made the 90 minute drive to Loch Lomond and Trossachs National Park. The trail entrance is near the Rowardennan Hotel on the shores of Loch Lomond and we were able to park our car in the car park for a minimal fee.
Because it was a Saturday, the trail was busy but not overwhelmingly so. Our first hour was spent hiking through wooded areas and gradually making our way up the base of the mountain.
The trail became a bit more rigorous but totally manageable as we began the steep portion of the hike.
Water breaks were the perfect excuse to just sit and soak in the view along the way.
Seriously, the views were so stereotypical Scotland that we couldn’t stop exclaiming, “Wow!”
Thank you self-timer. Not surprisingly, as we climbed the temperature dropped and the air became thick with fog.
And midges attacked my legs and face.
Totally fail wearing shorts. Not only was it freezing at the summit, these little buggers hurt and left welts.
It was worth it, though.
I know these pictures don’t do the view justice.
So you’ll have to just experience it yourself someday.
We’ve been together for almost 15 years now and have experienced a lot of wonderful places together. I love our everyday life and I love our adventures. Hiking Ben Lommond together and sitting side-by-side in silence at the top – gazing at the seemingly never-ending Highlands is definitely deserving of our highlight reel.
We chose to go down the mountain on the much less-traveled back-end trail.
It was difficult not to image ourselves as clansmen hiking this trail.
Hiking in rocky terrain is my happy place.
We treated ourselves to well-deserved pints and food at the beer garden located at the base of the trail. My face may have been covered in welts and my feet a bloody mess but I couldn’t have been happier. This hike was our favorite of the trip and I will recommend it to anyone traveling to Scotland until my dying day. It had all the elements for a perfect Clay & Karen Vacation Day – rigorous hiking, spectacular views, beer, and food. And what’s not to love about that?
The following day we went into Edinburgh and spend the day eating and drinking our way around the medieval city in the drizzling rain. So it was pretty much a quintessential Scottish day.
The Royal Mile was touristy and awesome all wrapped up in a tchotsky package.
I wouldn’t have wanted to spend anymore time there than we did but it is worth a visit, if anything to go to one of the many kilt and tartan suppliers located along the famed mile. And since I am a McIntyre, I was sure to purchase my family’s tartan in a variety of mediums.
My favorite photo I took in Edinburgh.
It’s easy to see why it is a favorite European city of many.
The architecture. Sigh.
And bagpipes. Sigh.
We had a blast wandering around the city and seeing where all the courts, tunnels, and walkways took us. My favorite experience of the day was attending an evening service at St. Giles Cathedral, which dates back to the 14th century. I grew up in the Episcopal Church and we’ve been attending Episcopal services for awhile now so being able to experience an Anglican service in Scotland was quite special.
For our last full day in Scotland we did something a little different because we were absolutely worn-out from all our days of hiking (and drinking!) so we booked a last minute tour through the Highlands out of Glascow. We don’t consider ourselves tour-bus people and after experiencing our first one in Scotland, I doubt we will ever go on one again. But it was a welcome treat to just be able to sit and have someone else drive the mountain roads.
There were a lot of stops along the way to Loch Ness.
I’m pretty sure every person who has taken a Highland tour has a picture of this guy.
I didn’t accidentally eat reindeer in Scotland like I did during our Alaska vacation.
The infamous Skyfall mountain. Sadly, no Daniel Craig.
When planning this trip, we originally decided not to incorporate Loch Ness into our travel plans. But since it was part of the tour package we booked for the day, we didn’t really have a choice. Yes, it is very hokey. But the lake itself is quite spooky with deep and dark water – Loch Ness is the largest lake of the British Isles by volume.
We took a cruise around Loch Ness, which included fantastic views of Urquhart Castle. We chose not to tour the castle and instead extended our time on the water.
After a quick top in Pitlochry for ice cream we were on our way back to Glasgow.
Our trip to Scotland was amazing and we can’t wait to go back with the kids someday.
We flew out of Edinburgh, where I had the best breakfast of the trip. Yes, at the airport. So if you find yourself at the Edinburgh airport, get the Asparagus Benedict at Sir Walter Scott and a pint of Tennent’s Lager to either begin or end your trip to Scotland (or both!)…you won’t be disappointed.
Flight delays at JFK ensured that we didn’t get back to Atlanta until well-after midnight but when our kids came running into our room at 6am, it didn’t matter that we had gotten only three hours of sleep. A wonderful trip ended with the best reunion possible – snuggles and giggles and all.
O Were My Love Yon Lilac Fair Robert Burns
O were my love yon Lilac fair,
Wi’ purple blossoms to the Spring,
And I, a bird to shelter there,
When wearied on my little wing!
How I wad mourn when it was torn
By Autumn wild, and Winter rude!
But I wad sing on wanton wing,
When youthfu’ May its bloom renew’d.
O gin my love were yon red rose,
That grows upon the castle wa’;
And I myself a drap o’ dew,
Into her bonie breast to fa’!
O there, beyond expression blest,
I’d feast on beauty a’ the night;
Seal’d on her silk-saft faulds to rest,
Till fley’d awa by Phoebus’ light!