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Scotland - June 2022

Trip report for June 10 - 21, 2022 on our time in Scotland. My wife and I enjoyed our 20th anniversary trip and the kids stayed home this time.
1. We flew into Edinburgh on Saturday and took the train immediately to Glasgow. We enjoyed the hop-on-hop-off bus tour of Glasgow, though we got a very cold rain for part of it (we were prepared but it was still chilly!). Enjoyed a vibrant city. We loved Sunday morning hike up to the Necropolis behind Glasgow Cathedral (highly recommended) before taking bus on Sunday to Bridge of Orchy.
2. Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday we hiked 37 miles on the West Highland Way, from Bridge of Orchy to Fort William. We are 47 years old and reasonably fit and loved the trail (even if the footing was difficult at times). We booked through Hillwalk Tours (they handled b&b arrangements, travel maps/notes, luggage transport, etc. for a reasonable price).
3. We found a lovely sense of community on the trail - many of the same people hiking the same segments would see each other on the trail and then again in the pubs at each stop in the evening. We walked the final hour of the trail on Day 2 into Kinlochleven with our new friends from Belfast, and then sat together as we enjoyed after-dinner pints at The Tailrace Inn located in town. Americans, Scots, Irish and others shared the experience of being out on the trail together and that was perhaps the best part of it all.
4. We were in Fort William only one evening, but enjoyed an evening talking with new friends from Bathgate (near Edinburgh) who were at the table next to us as we enjoyed dinner and a drink or two at The Grog & Gruel. The issue of Scottish independence came up - they brought it up - and the husband and wife were on opposite sides of the issue. We just watched and listened as they each made their case to us, for some reason, after perhaps one drink more than needed.
5. From Fort William, we took the train to Edinburgh on Thursday and enjoyed 2 nights (which became 5 nights - more on that in a moment) in the New Town area not far from St. Andrew Square. We have been to Edinburgh before and didn't feel a need to do the castle or much of the Royal Mile again. We preferred the energy in the New Town honestly and it made a handy base. Le Monde hotel on George Street was a pleasant surprise, though we booked well in advance to get the best rates.
6. The weather was mostly rain and wind for the first 5 days or so, and then some partly cloudy skies. When on one of our last days the weather was sunny and nearly 70 degrees, the whole town seemed to open up like a flower. I love Edinburgh (Scotland really) in the rain, but it was nice to see it glow in the summer late evening sun too (some amazing postcard images of the castle from Princes Street).
7. On Saturday, we were supposed to fly home. A mechanical problem on the plane resulted in a canceled flight and a bit of a mess at the airport that took nearly 7 hours to sort out. We ended up with 3 extra nights (!) in Edinburgh, for a total of 5 nights there in all.
8. On Sunday, our first extra day, we took a spur of the moment day trip to Stirling. We loved Stirling as it's small, wonderfully historical, not overrun with tourists and a delight for a short visit. The castle is a highlight, but the Holy Rude church near the castle is a much less crowded and lovely spot. We had 2 return trains canceled so we kept going back to the pub (No.2 Baker Street) for another pint while waited for a train actually going back to Edinburgh on Sunday evening.
9. On Monday, we explored the Royal Botanical Garden (lovely!) on a sunny day and it seemed like the whole city was out enjoying the weather.
Scotland is probably our favorite place in Europe - the friendly people, the wonderful history and architecture, and even the moody weather all appeal to my wife and I like no other place. Even with 3 extra unplanned days (not great actually), we are already talking about how and when we can go back.
Steve

Posted by
5507 posts

I was so happy to see that your extra days were the result of a plane being rescheduled vs. covid!

Posted by
1445 posts

Thanks for the great info. I just copied 5-9 and added it to my research notes as I’m planning a shortish trip to Edinburgh next May. So happy to hear you love it even in the rain. I can’t wait to go!!!!

Posted by
318 posts

I got back from the UK a week ago with a week hiking tour in Skye and the walk you did also sounds amazing. Scotland cities were great but the hiking is something special. I’ll be checking out Hillwalk since I’m ready to go again. Did you find that they gave you everything you needed to be comfortable out there getting where you needed to go?

Posted by
286 posts

KC - yes, I would recommend Hillwalk Tours. They did a nice job getting us ready for the hike - detailed hiking notes, maps, etc., tips on places to eat or have a pint at each evening's stop, wonderful accommodations along the route, and easy/convenient luggage service so you only carry what you want on the trail itself each day. The caveat is to book early - there are other service providers like Hillwalk and independent hikers too and they all want rooms at a handful of the same b&b, inns, etc. along the route. I think the experience would not have been as great if we had transport to our hotel from the trail at the end of each day (Hillwalk takes care of that too when it's necessary as I understand).

Posted by
286 posts

Carrie - check out Thistle Street and Rose Street in the New Town as well if you're going to be there. These are in the heart of very busy sections of the New Town but both are just charming small side streets with pubs/restaurants and are a joy to stroll in the evening.

Posted by
1445 posts

Steve, thanks for the street strolling suggestions. I haven’t figured out my number of nights yet (7-9 maybe), but this will be an Edinburgh only trip so I’ll have plenty of time to explore away from the main tourist sights. I’m experimenting with a shorter trip to see how I like it as I have 2 longer trips also in the works for next year. I’m trying to be creative with my vacation days from work.