Our Scottish adventures
We’ve recently got home from our first road trip. We spent 11 days in Scotland, drove 1,282 miles in 33 hours, stopped in 6 different Airbnb’s, explored 2 cities and got lost in hundreds of mountains. It didn’t take me long to fall in love with Scotland, in fact I’ve left a piece of my heart in the highlands!
It took months of planning but this was the route that we took:
On a first day, we left home really early to try and beat Friday work traffic on the motorway. We packed the car up the night before and left the house at 4:30am (ouch, who knew there were two 4:30’s in one day?!)
Our first stay over was in a place called Renfrewshire, which is just outside of Glasgow. The journey up to Scotland was plain sailing, we had two pit stops – one for breakfast and one a little bit later on. All in all, the journey time up to Scotland was 4 and a half hours.
The first activity we got up to (although not dog related) was to visit a local heritage centre in Renfrewshire. I’m currently doing our family tree with my Mom and we actually have a lot of ancestors who were born and lived in Scotland, Renfrewshire to be exact. We had struggled somewhat to find out specifics of a few ancestors so thought that we could utilise the trip we had planned to try to dig deeper into our family tree. It was a great few hours spent in the heritage centre and although we didn’t find out as much as we wanted to, we had some useful hints and tips to be getting on with when we got back home. While I was trying to piece together our family tree, Alex and Woody found a local park to stretch their legs.
By this time it was time to check into our first Airbnb, so we headed there to unload the car and grab some food. The first evening was pretty chilled, we were all tired from the journey up (and trying to figure out the family tree) so it was food, watch a movie and bed for us ready for the next few days of adventures.
The second day of our trip was heading into Glasgow (yay). It’s a city I’ve wanted to explore but hadn’t had the opportunity until now. What I liked about Glasgow the most was that it seemed super dog-friendly. Everyone made a beeline to come and say hello to Woody, although we get that a lot, it was lovely to meet some locals. I mean, who can resist a Scottish accent?! 😍
We grabbed lunch at BrewDog because why the heck not and then admired all of the street art that Glasgow has to offer. I was so impressed by the extent of some of the art that was applied to super high buildings telling you a story. Of course, we got Woody to sit in front of a couple of the street art and I’m actually still impressed that he managed to sit and wait in such a busy city with so much going on and not breaking his stay command. Good boy, Woodster!!
We couldn’t have travelled all of the way to Glasgow and not see our friends from Elliott’s Triangles! We did a quick search for where they are based and noticed it was a little drive away so we headed there to say hey. It was so lovely to meet Rebekah and Elliott (finally). This was one of the first places we got Woody a bandana from. Of course, we didn’t leave empty-handed, we treated Woody to a snazzy new triangle as modelled below.
We only had one day to explore Glasgow and even though I wish I had more time there, I was also dying to see the highlands!!
On day 3, this was when we were leaving the hustle and bustle of city life and heading for the mountains. It’s the part of the trip we were all looking forward to the most. Three nights in the middle of nowhere, surrounded by mountains and sheep. BLISS!
But we had lots to see and do before we got there, so we had breakfast and loaded the car up and said goodbye to house number 1.
Our first stop was around 30 minutes outside of Glasgow on the way up to Fort William to a place called The Devil’s Pulpit aka Finnich Glen. It’s a 100ft deep gorge, completely covered in moss with a ruby colour river running through. It’s totally surreal but a must see and do if you are ever into Scotland. You need to be fairly active to get down to Devil’s Pulpit, the climb down/back up is very steep and can be slippy when it’s wet. At parts, you do have to scramble so Woody’s Ruffwear harness came in so so handy! We saw couples carrying babies down in baby carriers so we couldn’t chicken out. With our knees knocking together and the reassuring “we’ll be fine” we exchanged to each other, we started our climb down into the gorge.
When you get down, you are blinded by its beauty there’s no doubt about that. A little tip I read before going was to walk around to the left to see a waterfall. There was no way to get to the waterfall without either a) getting your shoes/socks/trousers soaking wet or b) taking them off and wading through the water barefoot and trousers rolled up. I opted for the latter. The water was absolutely freezing cold, it was that cold it actually hurt but I didn’t let that stop me. Look at these views!!
FUN FACT: If you’ve ever watched the TV series Outlander, part of this was filmed there. I’ve also heard that Detective Pikachu has been filmed there too, but I haven’t seen that yet so I can’t be sure on that one.
From here, we got back in the car and carried on our drive up to Fort William. The route naturally takes you through Loch Lomond, which is absolutely gorgeous and huge! We also travelled through Glencoe.
I had been looking forward to seeing Glencoe for some time because it was my Nan’s favourite place which she always spoke about. As soon as we got there, I knew exactly what she meant.
It’s one of those places that take your breath away and leaves you speechless at the same time. It took us a while to get through Glencoe because we were pulling over every 5 minutes to just admire its beauty.
After (reluctantly) leaving Glencoe, we were back on the road to our next stop in Fort William. The journey there wasn’t bad, the mountains and stunning scenery really helped. We were instructed by our sat nav to keep driving down a road which seemed to be getting more and more ‘off the beaten track’. We stuck with it and eventually saw a sign saying ‘END OF PUBLIC ROAD’ – uh oh. Just a short while after, we were greeted by a closed gate and our beautiful eco-lodge which I recognised from Airbnb.
This stay was pure heaven. We were surrounded by mountains, we had a fresh stream running through our back garden, Woody had so much land to run around freely in, there was a fire pit we could use, sheep regularly came to say hello and just a little walk away from the lodge in another field which we were able to walk in, were HIGHLAND COWS!!!
The host of our Airbnb offered a package for a 3-course meal cooked for you and brought to the lodge, the first night we checked in we took advantage of this which was great to not have to cook for an evening. The food was pretty yummy too.
The next morning, we went into the centre of Fort William to have a wander around and do a little bit of retail therapy. After a couple of hours there, we wanted to explore more mountains so we headed to Glen Nevis for a hike. I feel like I’m repeating myself when I speak of Scotland because I use the same words over and over to explain its beauty. Glen Nevis was a stunning hike and I would definitely recommend it for the views.
After our hike, we went back to our lodge to enjoy the peace and quiet and rest our aching legs (from the Devil’s Pulpit hike the day before).
On our fifth day, we had planned to see Glenfinnan Viaduct aka Harry Potter bridge. For those that know me, know how much of a HP geek I am. This had been on my bucket list to see for a really long time so I was super excited to go and see it. The parking for Glenfinnan Viaduct is very limited and gets very busy if there is a train due to go past. We didn’t plan on seeing the bridge when a train was due, and we still struggled to park. There is a little church just up the road with a little bit of parking and we pulled in there. We actually went into the church and got speaking to a lovely local lady who was full of really useful local information.
Of all of the days, this was our worst in terms of the weather. The heavens decided to open but we were prepared – raincoats at the ready!
The rain didn’t stay around for long so we walked a short distance to see the bridge. After humming the Harry Potter soundtrack as we approached the bridge (obviously), it was just there right in front of us – finally. You are able to see the bridge from different locations from below. Or if you walk a short distance, you can also see if from up above.
It was a great attraction to see but it is definitely very popular all day long! After our explore around Glenfinnan Viaduct, we headed back to our lovely lodge to chill because we started aching in places I didn’t even know I had muscles (from the scrambling up and down to Devil’s Pulpit), we also had a campfire which was super cool.
On day 6, it was time to check out of our lovely remote lodge in the highlands (boo!) and head up to Inverness. We took a little bit of a detour and visited Eilean Donan Castle.
Eilean Donan Castle isn’t dog-friendly unfortunately but the grounds around are so it is worth a visit. Alex and Woody stayed outside while I had a wander around the castle (I’m a fan of castles). Woody kinda took the limelight off the bagpipe player who was playing outside the castle because he was rolling over in front of him expecting tummy rubs from all tourists – they loved him. But then again, it’s hard not to really.
Before our Scottish roadtrip, I binged watched Outlander which I now absolutely love (it’s nothing to do with Jamie Fraser, I promise!). It’s an incredible series which actually taught me so much about history.
As part of our trip, we visited the Culloden battlefield which is in Inverness. It’s a wild moor which is the resting place of 1,500 Jacobite and 50 Government soldiers who fought and died there in 1746. When you visit, you can walk along the battle lines and see the graves of the soldiers beside the memorial cairn in the centre of the battlefield. There are also flags around the battlefield which represents the front lines of both armies and shows the vast scale of the battle, whilst in the centre clan markers indicate the graves of the fallen. It’s really eye-opening and well worth the visit. 💛💛
Can you spot Woody in the photo below?
Inverness was the highest that we travelled up so on day 8, it was time to come more in land to the Cairngorms. We only had a one night stay in the Cairngorms in a lovely little village called Tomintoul. Tomintoul is actually said to be the highest village in the highlands which is pretty cool. Before we headed to our bnb for the night, we went for an explore around Newtonmore and the River Spey. We followed a route that we found online called ‘The Wild Cat Trail’. It was a beautiful, peaceful walk.
It was short but sweet in the Cairngorms but its most definitely a place I’d like to visit again and spend a lot more time in. The views were incredible.
The next day we had quite a lot of travelling packed in. Our first stop was Craigievar Castle…
This beautiful pink castle is said to be the inspiration for Walt Disney’s Cinderella Castle. You can totally see why! I went on the guided tour of the castle and learnt that the exterior of the castle remains virtually unchanged since William Forbes completed it around 1626. Craigievar was actually a family home until the 1960s but now belongs to National Trust for Scotland.
After a few hours here, it was time to head to Balmoral and have tea with the Queen. The two attractions aren’t too far away from each other, in fact, I think it only took us 45 minutes to get to Balmoral.
A lot of the attractions we visited in Scotland, there were limitations on where dogs were allowed so when we got to Balmoral, it was really refreshing to hear that dogs were allowed everywhere (even the gift shop!!!). The only room that they weren’t allowed in was the ballroom. I love that the Queen allows dogs to experience this with us. The Queen is great, she definitely my kinda person – one that loves dogs! 🙌
Balmoral was a great place to visit, the grounds are so stunning and everything about it was so peaceful. Although we didn’t have too much time here, the time we did have was very enjoyable and I’m really glad we visited.
We were nearing the end of our trip (sob), with our last big stop being Edinburgh. After travelling an awful lot up until now, we broke our 2 hour 30+ trip by having an overnight stay in Kirriemuir which was about an hour away from Balmoral.
The last leg of our trip was travelling from Kirriemuir to Edinburgh for our final night in Scotland. We had the day to explore Edinburgh which I was super excited about. We’ve visited Edinburgh before but this was before we had Woody when we visited for the Fringe Festival. I was looking forward to seeing what our experience would be like taking a dog.
Last time we visited the city, we didn’t get to do all of the ‘touristy’ things. Arthur’s Seat was one of these. Once we checked into our Edinburgh house, we headed straight out to climb Arthur’s Seat and see the city from a new perspective.
Wow, what a view!
The climb to the top didn’t take too long but it was extremely busy. We decided to stay just a little bit down from the top and we just sat down near the edge (but not too close just in case) and took in the view.
I’m a real city explorer but do love exploring mountains/woods just as much. I felt like Arthur’s Seat ticked all the boxes for me. I was outdoors, up a mountain, with the view of a beautiful city.
We headed back to Edinburgh city centre for a little bit of retail therapy (of course), street artists galore and to just enjoy the hustle and bustle of city life before leaving it all behind. We grabbed lunch on the Royal Mile and just reminisced on how fast the last 10 days had gone, what was our favourite place we stayed and where we would come back to again. It was a bittersweet moment – the months of planning paid off, we had the best holiday but we were so sad that it was time to almost go home. After exploring Edinburgh some more, we headed back to our final Airbnb to end our holiday on a high (by having pizza and beers).
Some places you visit just feel like home and for me, Scotland was one of them.
Until next time, Scotland…
We were kindly gifted items from Ruffwear to take with us on our Scottish adventures and we are blown away by the quality of all of the items. Thank you Ruffwear for creating and making such durable products that allowed us to adventure to our heart’s content. I’ve loved them that much that I have purchased a load more – Woody will soon have a different collar and harness for every day of the week.
See ya soon Scotland, ya wee bonnie country.