The first time I went to Scotland, the friend I was with went into anaphylactic shock just over the border and had to be taken to hospital. This time? No hospitals were involved and so I’d like to call it: an absolute win.
My brother and I decided we’d go to the Highlands for the weekend. I’d never been. Let me tell you … WHY DID NO ONE TELL ME EARLIER JUST HOW BEAUTIFUL THE HIGHLANDS ARE???! I’ve been cheated. Damn it, Time-Traveling Scottish Highlander Romance Novels! you didn’t tell me.
Loch Lomand was beautiful and so big, so very, very big. I spent most of the time we were driving past it with my nose glued to the car window. We stopped in a small village by its banks and had some lovely soup served in tartan-patterned bowls.
We took a walk and a cat peered back at me from one window, a poster of Nicola Sturgeon from another. There was a strong feeling of wanting Scottish Independence up here – signs on lampposts etc. I felt almost sorry to subject everyone to my – unfortunately – incredibly English accent. (A common by-product of being English.)
Past Fort William and ever onwards, and the further we went, the more beautiful our surroundings were. There was this moment when heavy rain gave way to the most stunning hills that rolled downwards towards the car. It felt like a secret world, locked away and so very magical.
The AirBnB we booked was on its own little loch and again – stunning.
We went for a walk around its banks, got caught in the rain, but I entertained my brother by pretending to be the presenter on a documentary ‘AND IT WAS HERE, ON THIS VERY ROAD THAT WILLIAM WILLIAM HAMMERSMITH TROD’. I use the term ‘entertained’ very loosely. ‘Tortured’ would perhaps be more apt.
If you, dear reader, ever plan a trip up to Scotland, I’d advise doing such a thing as: checking the weather first, and also planning the trip. I’m not going to say that we didn’t do it, but I will say that it turned out marvellously in spite of our incredible organisational skills and the tropical storm battering everywhere at the time.
We went to Skye and saw our aunt and the little corner of paradise that is her back garden. Over a deliciously filling meal (far better than the sandwiches I’d cobbled together that morning) I realised just how nice it is to see familiar faces, especially when so far from home.
We stopped off in Eilean Donan Castle where there were a lot of tourists (obviously I’d never call myself a tourist. Purchasing something from the gift shop DOESN’T COUNT.) and also torrential rain. It was entirely worth it, especially after we’d taken photos in front of the castle with gritted teeth, braved the queue for a coffee, and retreated with moderate haste, to the much drier confines of the car.
With only one full day to spend in the Highlands, we’d done our best to spend it well. The next day, it was time to share the eight+ hours of driving it would take to get back home.
I insisted we stop at Gretna Green for two very important reasons:
- just in case I felt like eloping
- to make every regency novel heroine proud
It was then that disaster struck. I did not, dear reader, like Gretna Green. It did not have the romance. It did not even have a romance novel corner. This was a crushing moment of disillusionment. The only person to elope with was a shop mannequin and I did not feel Equal To The Task.
We returned home, tired, but immensely satisfied. I’m going to steal the Highlands and shove them in my next book. It won’t be a time-travelling romance, because I still feel betrayed by them. It will, however, include such descriptors as:
‘The rain moves in ghostly veils across the loch, pushed by wind.’
‘Binky looks cold, wet, and utterly miserable.’
I can’t wait.