Category Archives: Scotland

Scotland (part II)

We left grey Aberdeen and drove to Dornach on a grey day.  We stopped for a walk around Huntly late in the morning.  There was a cute farmers market and a castle to explore there.  Then we continued on to Elgin for lunch and a rainy stroll to the “castle,” which was really just a pile of rocks at the top of the hill.  We also stopped at Johnston’s of Elgin cashmere store, but we couldn’t find any bargains, so we kept on to Dornach.  We arrived late in the afternoon, ready to get out of the car for a couple of days.  We stayed at the home of a friend of my parent’s from Newport.  Her house is adorable!


It was a really cozy place to settle into and within walking distance of the town centre and the golf course (Dornoch is not actually that big).  We were treated to a nice marching pipe band on our first evening.  Unfortunately, we missed the dancers and we only got to see the rain kilts instead of the dress kilts because the rain was coming down pretty good.

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We had a nice dinner and got to bed so we could be well rested for golf the following day.  We played at the Royal Dornoch.  While the Royal Dornoch golf club was officially established in 1877, they claim that folks have been playing golf there since 1616…  just about 400 years!  It is considered a pretty excellent golf course still today.  Bret and I were a little nervous that all the greatness of this course would be wasted on our lack of skill or experience playing golf, but we really had a great time.


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Not only did we have great company in my parents and Tom, the caddy, but we had a beautiful sunny day to boot!  Of course the wind shifted half way through the course and we did have to hit upwind for all but 4 holes.

After golf, we rushed a pint with Tom, then ran to our dinner reservation.  What a great day.

The next day, we were off again.  A long day in the car following the Caledonian canal to get to Glasgow.  Our first stop was Loch Ness.  We did not get a sighting of the monster, but the lake itself is very impressive.

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We stopped for a little hike in Invermoriston.


Afterwards, we stopped in Fort William for lunch.  Emily happened to ask about highland cows at the tourist information stop and they led us to one of the most impressive views of the trip in the Ben Nevis valley.


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We got a pretty good look at the highland cows with the binoculars, but without zoom on our phone the pictures didn’t turn out so great.


So that you can see what they look like, here is a picture we didn’t take.


Luckily for us all, Bret promised Emily that she could have one someday, so you will all get a look at one up close (someday, that is).

We broke from the canal after Fort William and headed across some dramatic mountains to get to loch Lomond.

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Nothing much to report on Glasgow.  We had a nice Italian dinner and a walk along the river front the following morning before our flight out.  It seemed like the town was having a major hangover following the Commonwealth games, so a lot of it wasn’t even open.

We were very sad to leave, but had more adventures to attend to in Cork… but that is another post.


Scotland (Part I)

Bret caught up with Emily and her folks for a long weekend trip through Scotland. First stop: Perth. We stayed at a nice hotel overlooking the South Inch park. They were set up to host a horse show in the park but we didn’t stay long enough to partake. We did have a nice walk after dinner to the river Tay.


We didn’t spend much time there in the morning, because we wanted to maximize our day in Stonehaven and Dunnottar Castle. Emily’s great Grandmother and Grandfather (her Mom’s Dad’s parents) hailed from Stonehaven. She grew up hearing stories about visits to Stonehaven from her great Uncle.  We arrived at the harbor and were careful not to drive off into the ocean.


Then we drove up to the castle!


You may recognize this castle from the 1990 Mel Gibson film, Hamlet.



The site of Dunnottar Catle had religious significance to the Picts prior to the arrival of St. Ninian and Catholicism in the 5th Century.  It is thought that the original chapel was founded by St. Ninian at that time.  The standing ruins were built in the 15th and 16th centuries, although there are many references to a castle at Dunnottar prior to then.  The castle was built by William Keith and his descendent who held the castle as the seat of Earl Marischal until the Jacobite rebellion in 1715.  It had been falling apart since then, until restoration began in 1925.  It is probably most famous for its role in hiding the Scottish Crown Jewels from Oliver Cromwell.





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It was pretty cool!

Next up,  we headed back into Stonehaven for fish and chips.  Emily ran across an article some time last year that announced that the winner of the best fish and chip shop in the UK in 2013 was in Stonehaven, so we had to seek it out.  The Bay fish and chip shop definitely lived up to the billing. We wandered along the beach and through town a little more before hitting the road to Aberdeen for dinner with the extended family.


These are Emily’s second cousins once removed (i.e. her Mom’s Grandfather’s Sister’s grandchildren) and their spouses.  It was so fun to have dinner with family that Emily has not seen since she was two years old or so and still feel like old friends.


Aberdeen was an interesting city…  very grey.  Almost every building is constructed with a grey granite that looks like concrete blocks.  We did not have too much time to explore, but we did get a couple nice walks in.  We also tried our luck at a nice looking pub and met a friendly local, but he turned out to be a Denver Broncos fan.  As always, it would have been nice to have some more time to explore, but we had new places to head on to and explore, so we were off the next morning for Dornach.  We’ll fill you in on that in our next post 🙂