HAGGiS Adventures Compass Buster Tour: Day 3 – Beachcombing

After meeting some hairy coos and visiting St. Clement’s church to start Day 3 of our Compass Buster Tour, we were off for a wee walk and beachcombing adventure!

Northton would be our next stop with some amazing beach views you wouldn’t expect to see in Scotland.

Our walking route can be found here, for anybody who is looking to explore a different side of Scotland.

We were really excited to be walking through the moors of Harris. The landscape was glorious and as the above website explains, it was created by sand being blown over the peat. It is a rather unique grassland habitat housing many species of birds and beautiful flowers in the summer!

We didn’t get to see any birds but we did catch a glimpse of some wild flowers! The landscape never fails to amaze us. The grandeur of the Scotland hillsides was amazing as expected.

Our ultimate destination at the end of this trail would be the ruins of a medieval chapel on the headland. But before we reached the ruins, we would wander around 3 beautiful beaches.

After exploring Ireland, I shouldn’t have been surprised at seeing amazing beaches yet again. Obviously having endless coastlines means that there are going to be some pretty spectacular beaches to be found!

The first beach we saw featured amazing turquoise waters, similar to what we had seen at Port Stoth beach. We didn’t get a chance to get close to the water here, but Greg assured us there would be more sightseeing ahead.

The second beach we encountered was Traigh na Cleabhaig. Going through another gate we came along and saw this gorgeous view!

If we had more time, we surely would have stayed much longer and explored each and every beach! But time was limited and we had to walk on.

Along the way, we found more of our hairy coo friends! 🐮 We always get excited when we see Hairy Coo and this was not an exception 😋.

Finally, we reached our destination. The beach at Northton.

Once we reached this third beach, we all sat down to eat our picnic lunch. Before we set out at the start of today, we had stopped and grabbed a quick lunch so we were all well equipped to enjoy the scenery before us!

More than one of our tour mates will recall “The notorious beach incident of 2015.” HA! We won’t relive it here but, let’s just say that the guys and the gals got different views of the beach while eating lunch. Hahaha! This misunderstanding was cleared up in the end and we all had a good laugh over it! Definitely good times!

Below was our view of the beach!

After finishing our lunch we started our hike up to the Rubh’ an Teampuill headland and the Medieval Chapel there.

The Chapel was built on a prehistoric settlement mound and dates back to the 15th century

There is an eroding prehistoric settlement mound, which produced evidence from the Mesolithic, Neolithic and Beaker, and Bronze Age periods. A little further along the shore, on the headland of Rubh’ an Teampuill, are the ruins of a small late medieval chapel. A closer look indicates that next to the chapel are the footings of an Iron Age broch, which probably supplied the source of building stone for the chapel. – Visit Outer Hebrides

Apparently there was once even a stone wall surrounding the area! The area also seems to have been inhabited many times during the previous centuries, even perhaps having a broch present at one time. Burials date back almost

9,000 years ! That’s pretty darned amazing!

The chapel has had work done in order to save it from total collapse. This is good news for travellers like ourselves, as we get to experience another ancient part of Scotland’s history.

On the other side of the Chapel, we found a glorious rocky outcropping! It was very epic with the waves crashing against the rocks!

And also a very good spot for some epic pictures with the landscape.

We also made some more animal friends who seemed to enjoy grazing so close to the water.

After exploring the Northton Chapel and its surroundings, Greg led us back to our Yellow Bus and we headed towards Tarbert, the main community on the Isle of Harris, where we would be boarding the ferry to Uig and the Isle of Skye!

When we reached Tarbert, what was the first thing we saw as we drove into the town? HARRIS TWEED, OF COURSE!

We couldn’t wait to get out of the bus and go explore the tweed shops. Harris tweed sold on the Isle of Harris is obviously authentic! This is a brief history of Harris Tweed:

From time immemorial, the inhabitants of the Outer Hebrides of Scotland have woven a beautiful and intricate cloth the world knows simply as Harris Tweed.

The islanders of Lewis, Harris, Uist and Barra produce this luxury cloth entirely by hand and have long been known for the excellence of their weaving. However up until the middle of the nineteenth century, their cloth was used only on their crofts or sold at local markets, but in 1846, Lady Dunmore, widow of the landowner of Harris, the Earl of Dunmore, chose to have their clan tartan replicated by Harris weavers in tweed.

The results proved so successful that Lady Dunmore began to devote much time and effort to marketing the tweed to her wealthy friends further afield and as a result of her enthusiastic work, sales and trade of the island cloth were soon established with merchants across the country. – Harris Tweed Authority  

If you want to read a bit more about the background of Harris Tweed, you can do so here and here.

We obviously thought we needed a souvenir (or two) from the Harris Tweed shop! We got ourselves some oh-so-lovely wallets and matching coin purses ❤. We really had to stop ourselves from getting more, but that just means we will have to return again and get many more items to remember Harris by!

Soon after, we headed down to the pier and watched the ferry pull in. We piled onto the ferry and headed towards our lodgings for the night in Portree!

Stay tuned for a look at our first Haggis dinner and more of Portree!

From Vancouver with Love,

Ioana and Natalie

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© Letters of Wanderlust, 2017. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of any written material and/or photographs without express and written permission from this site’s authors is strictly prohibited. Please get in touch if you would like to republish any of our materials or if you would like to work on a project together!

HAGGiS Adventures Compass Buster Tour: Day 3 – Coo’s, Seals and Historic St. Clement’s Church

We left Stornoway on Day 3 of our Compass Buster tour and boarded our Wild and Sexy yellow bus, headed leisurely towards our destination for tonight – Portree, the largest town on the Isle of Skye! We were excited because this meant more adventures and exploring, of course.

Day 3 started with more epic skyscapes! You could literally be driving anywhere in Scotland and mother nature will treat you to a beautiful landscape.

We actually stopped by the site to take some pictures because of the particular beauty of the clouds and the rays of sun beaming through. It was a somber scene, because of the cemetery, but it was made even more epic because of the clouds above!

After getting back on the bus, Greg told us we’d see a number of different sites that day including a few beaches- which we would be surprised were located in Scotland, and a historic church, before heading to Portree and finishing our night there.

We were literally just back onto the road when Greg SLAMMED the brakes on our yellow bus and we thought perhaps we had hit something!!!

Little did we know we had finally come upon some of Scotland’s most majestic creatures (after the unicorn, of course!): the Hairy Coo! (Or also known as the Highland cow, Heilan’ coo or just… coo)

Just look at the stylish hairstyles these coos’ have! Adorable!

A little backstory on these Highland Cattle:

They seem to have originated in Scotland and are mentioned as far back as the 6th century. They are certainly in no danger of extinction!

“They are a hardy breed due to their native environment, the Highlands of Scotland. This results in long hair, giving the breed its ability to overwinter.”

As you can see below, we were more than a little excited to find some Hairy Coo!

After this, we would constantly be searching for Hairy Coo wherever we went! We fell in love with them!

Sidenote: we even went as far as searching for a hairy coo back at home! And voilà – here we are meeting a new friend at a farm about 20 minutes away from us. A little piece of Scotland in the suburbs of Vancouver!

The landscape and clouds continued to be amazing, matching our shadowy Hairy Coo on the cliffs.

Just look at that light glowing on that small loch. Mesmerizing! Somebody take me back to Scotland right now!

As we drove on, we continued our animal spotting and actually came across some geese…

And then we had to actually stop the bus because we found SEALS! Take a look at all those little heads bobbing in and out of the water greeting us. We took way too many pictures to count, even though we had seen seals on our trip already…

Leaving our new animal friends behind, we made our way to one of our main destinations for the day: St. Clement’s Church on the Isle of Harris.

St. Clement’s Church is very well preserved and built around the 1520’s, named after Pope Clement.

“The church was built using local Lewisian gneiss rock. Its ground plan is cruciform and there is a tower at the west end, accessible through a door at the west end of the nave and a set of stone staircases and wooden ladders.” – Wikipedia

The church was supposedly built for the Chiefs of the MacLeods of Harris, probably around 1520. Above is a photo illustrating the wall tomb that Alasdair Croatach MacLeod built for himself in 1528.

It is rather eerie how the shadow of the body still looks so present in the space!

The art work is exquisite and very well preserved.

The church had many uses throughout the centuries, from supposedly being a monastery to being used as a cow byre.

The 9th chief’s son William built his grave on the south wall of the church, while the 10th chief built a third grave in the south transept.

The graveyard which surrounds the church contains a number of MacLeod tombs.

It was in 1873 that the Countess of Dunmore restored the church and in 1907 the tower was rebuilt after being struck by lightning!

Here’s how it looks today – standing fast in the Scottish landscape.

The church was truly different than what we had seen before. It is currently under the care of Historic Scotland. For more information on visiting St. Clement’s Church, check out their website here.

The Isle of Harris was already proving eventful! The scenery was much, much different than on the Isle of Skye and we also came across some Harris Tweed which we will comment on in a future post!

Next up is some beach combing!

Stay tuned!

From Vancouver with Love,

Ioana and Natalie

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© Letters of Wanderlust, 2017. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of any written material and/or photographs without express and written permission from this site’s authors is strictly prohibited. Please get in touch if you would like to republish any of our materials or if you would like to work on a project together!

HAGGiS Adventures Compass Buster Tour: Day 2 – The Trussel Stone and Gearrannan Blackhouse Village

After a wee break for an epic Iceland holiday, we’re back and ready to take you back to our trip to Scotland. We last left off on Day 2 of our Haggis Adventures Compass Buster 10 day tour!

So, we had just visited the Butt of Lewis and Port Stoth beach and there was much, much, much more to see that day! I already felt like I had seen so much.

Our next stop would be a standing stone! For any of you Outlander fans out there, you may remember we tried to find Jamie Fraser in Ireland at Blarney Castle. Seeing as that didn’t work out, we were more than a little excited to actually be in Scotland where the book took place! The chances of finding Jamie were definitely much higher here than in Ireland, right?! 😛

That being said, Greg drove us up to a place where there were literally no tourists and no big signs indicating that this was a tourist site. This is the site of The Trussel Stone (Clach an Trushal) – said to be the tallest standing stone in all of Scotland.

When I first saw it, in the setting it was in, I felt completely transported to another time! It is interesting to see that there are so many of these structures around Scotland. I also found it really impressive – how could they have been raised and still remain standing to this day?!

The stone is located in the village of Ballantrushal on the west side of the Isle of Lewis. It is 5.8 meters tall above ground! It was just our luck that as we got out of the bus to take a closer look, a local gentleman happened to see our bus and came out of his house to talk to us! Again this was so interesting! We got to hear the story of the stone right from a local Scot who had been living on this land his whole life.

Since we were in the land of folklore and magic, I can’t say I am surprised that this fellow had such a halo around him :-P. Trick of the light or does he have a bit of magic to him? You decide, haha!

As you can see from the picture, he was ready for the elements with his wellies and was very passionate in telling us some of the stories associated with the Trussel Stone.

“Local legend says that it marks the site of a great battle, the last to be fought between the feuding clans of the Macaulays and Morrisons”

He also mentioned that there had been a circle of stones that had stood here thousands of years ago. This is the last remaining stone of that circle. It is also known that you can pinpoint many other circles in the region based on the location of this one, which was an interesting fact – meaning maybe all the stone circles were somehow connected in a way?

It has been found that this stone has no direct relation to any solar or lunar lines, nor stellar constellations. You can find more information on these speculations here. That being said and as I mentioned earlier, it is still a good start to Stone Circle searching in the area and it was amazing to ponder how these structures were lifted and engineered so long ago!

As you can see from the pictures, we did try to channel our inner Claire Randall’s and transport ourselves to Jamie Fraser but…nope it didn’t work. Worth a shot though :-P!

After the gentleman had finished telling us his stories and we had gotten enough photos of this gigantic structure, we headed back to our yellow bus and were on our way to our next stop: the Gearrannan Blackhouse Village!

The Gearrannan Blackhouses were part of a crofting township on the Isle of Lewis in the Outer Hebrides! These homes were inhabited and used for crofting up to the 1970’s!

The Blackhouses are made of stone with thatched roofs, as you can see from the pictures.

“The double drystone walls, the low profile and the insulating thatch made the houses suitable for the Hebridean weather, and they were indeed eco-friendly houses in that all the building materials were natural and found locally.”

It was after the last residents moved out in the late 1970’s that the whole zone was declared a conservation area.

The inside of some of the houses have been conserved to represent what they were used for in the past. It was interesting to how people lived in these blackhouses – what they had in their homes, their peat fires and some of their traditional activities, including the weaving of the famous Harris Tweed!

Today, the village also serves as an area for holiday accommodations! Because of its location, close to the Callanish Standing Stones and Dun Carloway Broch, this is an ideal place to stay to explore the area!

It is open all year round and there are a great number of activities to partake in around the area including, fishing, hiking, cycling, etc. There is a self-catering hostel on site – though they do advise you to bring your own food since there are no shops in the area! You can find more information on accommodations here.

Another benefit of staying here would be the coastal walk! We, unfortunately, didn’t have enough time to do the walk but the view of the beaches and water below were very tempting!!! Again, I can’t express how shocked I was at the beauty of the beaches in both Ireland and Scotland. I honestly didn’t think that this would be one of the main attractions of both countries, but there you go!

 

As we were leaving, we noticed something we had already gotten to know very well in Scotland: PEAT! This house in particular was already getting ready of the winter and had its peat piles ready to go. Again, very self catering and self sufficient.

Our next stop would be spectacular Dun Carloway Broch and the Callanish Standing Stones.

Stay tuned!

From Vancouver with Love,

Ioana and Natalie

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HAGGiS Adventures Compass Buster Tour: Day 1 – Corrieshalloch Gorge and Falls of Measach

After visiting Dunkeld and finally waking up (maybe) with the help of some coffee, Greg told us that our next major stop for the day would be the Corrieshalloch Gorge and the Falls of Measach. After that, we would be heading to the port at Ullapool to take the Ferry to Stornoway, our stop for the night!  Our excitement level was starting to increase!!!

Before we reached our destination, we had another short stop that would definitely give us a taste of what we should be expecting from our tour around Scotland. Greg pulled to the side and we got views of a landscape that was exactly what I had hoped to see!!!

Through a wiki search (always accurate, right?!), google maps and a list of dams in Scotland, we figure this is probably Loch Glascarnoch.

The mix of hills and lochs and Scottish Heather made for a spectacular view!  I think it was at this point that I finally realized we were going to travel around SCOTLAND and see sights like this all over the place – if not even more impressive!

It also happened to be World Ballet Day at the time, so Natalie took the opportunity to do an arabesque with a beautiful Scottish landscape behind her!

It was at this point that we found out that Scottish Heather is specific to this landscape and that it can be used to make rope! That’s how strong it is.

At this point I was a bit reluctant to leave this calming landscape. I literally just wanted to sit there and absorb the scenery <3.

Greg burst my bubble by informing us we had to get a move on for we had more sights to see. This leads us to our next stop: Corrieshalloch Gorge and the Falls of Measach.

We would be walking across a suspension bridge that day to get to the Falls! The bridge was actually:

“Built by John Fowler (1817-98), joint designer of the Forth Railway Bridge.”

The gorge itself is 61 metres deep and is one of the best examples of a boxed canyon in Britain. It is located on the River Droma, south of Ullapool. It’s actually 1.5 km long and there are two walking paths to explore the area. We took the shorter, less strenuous one that would lead to the viewing platform, as we still had a lot of travelling to do.

Luckily for us, the sun decided to stick around and we got great sunny weather to explore in. As we crossed the bridge, boys, of course, would be boys and they shook it. We already knew our trip mates would be a fun crowd! There was even a sign warning of the maximum number of people on the suspension bridge at one time! But we weren’t too worried… (Plus, we had an engineer in the group and he said it would be safe – so we believed him!)

The pictures we got of the Falls of Measach were gorgeous! It was another lovely example of what Scotland had to offer.

On our way back to the bus, we got another look at the River Droma and the gorge. The gorge was actually made at the end of the Ice Age so the rock formations we saw were very interesting and somehow reminded me of the geological formations in Ireland! Dare I say that the colour of the water and the foaming parts that hit the rocks reminded me of GUINNESS!? Because it really did 🙂

This was another beautiful landscape to add to our list that day.

After snapping some epic pictures of water and sky (yet again), we were back on the road.

Our next stop would be something that I hadn’t expected in Ireland and again hadn’t expected in Scotland: A BEACH! More specifically at Ardmair Bay, overlooking Loch Kanaird.

The village of Ardmair is a fishing village in Wester Ross, north of Ullapool. It is small, quaint and just plain beautiful! The houses were all white surfaced and fit perfectly with the bay it is situated on. I was just as shocked at the beauty of this beach and little town as I had been in Ireland when we traveled along the coastline.

The beach is full of perfectly smooth rocks, which are PERFECT for use as skipping stones!

We, of course, had to try our hands at it but we had to be careful because it was low tide and the moss on the stones made it extra slippery to get around, but it was so worth it to get to the water and look out at the landscape <3. It was just amazing. So, if I left part of my soul in Ireland, I was already leaving another part of my soul in Scotland!

Here’s a look at Ben Nor Coigach in the distance.

The sun didn’t fail us that day and came out in another glorious display of sky and water.

After getting our fair share of photographic opportunities, we were back on the road to Ullapool – where we would be catching the Ferry to our final stop of the day: Stornoway. Ullapool is a village in Ross-shire, Scottish Highlands which is nestled on the shores of Lochbroom. We didn’t have much time to explore Ullapool but it is supposedly a ideal place to stay on a trip to Scotland because of its proximity to several other Scottish villages and sites, not to mention Inverness Airport!

If you want more information about Ullapool, you can find it here.

Ullapool would be where we had to grab a quick bite to eat before our 2+ hours Ferry ride to Stornoway. We wandered the streets for a little while, before deciding to eat some fries (chips?! 😉) while getting to know some of our group mates better.

We were treated to another amazing light and water show. I honestly have never seen such beautiful sky scenery as I did in Scotland. Just look at how that ray of Sun comes out of the clouds specifically on that spot on the water -truly magical!

We would be taking the Calmac Ferry to the Isle of Lewis and we only hoped the waters would be calm! The clouds that were rolling in looked a bit threatening but I was really excited to be on the water and experience Scotland in this way. The Calmac Ferry runs both in the summer and the winter out to Stornoway and you can find more specific information on the rates and the schedules here, in case you are planning your trip to the Hebrides!

As we left Ullapool, we made sure to take a seat by the window to snap some more shots of the beautiful scenery before us!

After first exploring the Ferry a little bit, we decided it was time to eat our dinner. The Ferry had a rather good selection of food from their cafeteria! I believe both Natalie and myself got the fish and chips and I finally gave in and wanted to try the Irn Bru that seemed to be a popular drink in Scotland. Greg had talked it up enough on the bus ride that a bunch of us were willing to try it. Apparently Irn Bru is good to cure anything :P. Whether this is a true or false statement, I will leave it up to you to decide once you try it. In my opinion, it is a rather acquired taste!

Before we knew it, our Ferry had docked in Stornoway and we were on the road to our accommodations! Our accommodations for the next two nights, as we explored the Outer Hebrides, would be the Heb Hostel in Stornoway. It was a pleasant little hostel with enough room to house our whole horde of people. There were quite a few of us in one room and there were washroom facilities on each floor but, even so, it took quite the coordination for us all to share, especially with more than 10 girls under one roof!

Once settled into our respective rooms, we decided it was time to shower and make use of the Wi-Fi they have in place in order to tell our families back home what we had seen that day! One thing about the Heb Hostel was that the Wi-Fi worked perfectly in the common room but not so great in the rooms themselves. But it really seemed to depend on the phone you had, as some people could catch the Wi-Fi and other people not so much (I was in the not so much category).

It was already dark outside by the time we had all showered and gathered in the common room. I was so tired out but our group mates were insistent in going out and finding a pub to grab a drink from! Greg informed us of a specific pub that would be hosting a karaoke night that we might enjoy going to. The only store open so late would be Tesco so we wouldn’t get to see much of the city itself at this hour. We decided to go to Tesco first to grab some snacks for the bus ride the following day and told our group mates we would go to the Pub that was recommended after.

Unluckily for us…we didn’t manage to find the pub. We wandered around a rather quiet Stornoway (there was nobody on the street so late) but couldn’t find the pub! We did stumble into an empty pub and got stared down by a bar lady! We did meet a cat along the way which I befriended and hesitantly left behind though. Having been unsuccessful, we decided to go back to the Hostel and turn in early so we would be refreshed for tomorrow.

Overall our first day in the Highlands was amazing! We were even more excited for what was to come the next day. You’ll notice that our days were packed with different stops and adventures and this is because of the number of places there are to be amazed by in Scotland.

Stay tuned for Day 2 where we explored some cliffs, finally saw some standing stones (Outlander shots to come) and found some historic ruins!

From Vancouver with Love,

Ioana and Natalie

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© Letters of Wanderlust, 2016. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of any written material and/or photographs without express and written permission from this site’s authors is strictly prohibited. Please get in touch if you would like to republish any of our materials or if you would like to work on a project together!

HAGGiS Adventures Compass Buster Tour: Day 1 – Dunkeld

After a very long hiatus, I am back to share with you all our amazing HAGGiS Adventures – 10 Day Compass Buster tour!

I am so excited to finally be able to share our experiences on this tour! As Natalie pointed out, our expectations were set very high for Scotland. We had a specific image of what it would be like, how the landscapes would be, how the people would be, and just in general – how we would feel about it. We were thinking maybe our expectations were set too high and we would end up feeling disappointed.

Boy, were we wrong! The country was all that we expected and more!

The morning our trip began we woke up early, left some of our baggage at Castle Rock Hostel (because we would be returning for one night after the tour) and headed down to the HAGGiS Adventures office to check in for our tour. But… not before we took one last picture of Edinburgh Castle standing proud in the morning light.

It was a colder morning and as we made our way down the Royal Mile, we were still amazed by the beautiful city of Edinburgh.

An almost quiet Royal Mile before 8am… Quite a contrast to what this scene looks like during the day and evenings!

When we finally arrived at the office and checked in, we got our customary tour group wristband – just as we had on our Shamrocker Tour. Since we opted for the pre-paid bundle of accommodations and add-on attractions, we also received a HAGGiS t-shirt in the bright yellow that we would learn is their signature colour!

After being told to wait outside for our tour guide, we already noticed that there were some Canadians on this tour! We were excited to make new friends and even meet up with some old ones from our previous Shamrocker Adventures Tour. The next couple days looked promising! After a few minutes waiting and talking to our tour mates, we were herded to our tour bus! (Make sure you get on the right bus! There were several other tours also checking in and leaving at the same time as ours!)

Our “Wild and Sexy” ride was a bright yellow bus driven by our tour guide. On our Ireland tour, as you may recall, we had a driver and a tour guide. It was an interesting change to have one person do both! Our guide for the first leg of the tour would be Greg. We could already tell he would be an enthusiastic guide, joking around as he helped us load our bags into the bus.

After everyone was packed and boarded, Greg gave us a brief overview what the next couple of days would like look and where we would be staying. Our first day would involve some bus time (we had to traverse Scotland up to Ullapool to catch our ferry this evening!), but still lots of sightseeing with stops in between for lunch and snacks, much like our Shamrocker Tour.

As we drove out of Edinburgh, we got to say goodbye to some famous sights like the Scott Monument, until our return in 10 days.

As we started driving out of Edinburgh, we noticed a thick fog had settled around the city. Because of it, we didn’t get to see the Forth Bridge! Luckily for Natalie and I, we would be seeing it when we visit Inchcolm Abbey after this Scotland tour. But it was too bad we didn’t get to see it as we crossed the Firth of Forth.

We would soon find out that our bus ride would be highly entertaining as Greg told us stories about the landscapes we were passing and joked around about his own experiences around Scotland! It looked like it was going to be an entertaining few days. Our first stop for the day would be the little town of Dunkeld and Dunkeld Cathedral for a coffee break and to stretch our legs.

Once we reached Dunkeld – it took us about an hour and a bit to get there from Edinburgh, we were all ready for a stretch and some coffee to wake up. Unfortunately for me, right after we finished our Shamrocker Tour, I got a horrible cold that would not let up. It continued to get worse and it was hard for me to enjoy everything when I was sniffling and coughing half the time. But brave it I did! I was finally in Scotland and I would enjoy even if I had to cough non-stop!

As we drove up to Dunkeld Cathedral, I noticed something familiar — SHEEP!!! I loved my Irish Sheep and it was exciting to see them again in Scotland! The morning was starting to clear up and the fog that had followed us out of Edinburgh started to lift. One thing we would notice about Scotland is the exciting cloudscapes that occurred any time of day. Just look at that wisp of cloud below after the fog lifted, it literally made the landscape look ethereal!


Dunkeld Cathedral was built in the early 13th century and stands on the North bank of the River Tay in Perth and Kinross, Scotland. Its history dates back to before that time:

“In 849, relics of St Columba were removed from Iona to protect them from Viking raids. They were brought to Dunkeld by King Kenneth MacAlpin, who appointed a bishop at Dunkeld. Columba became the patron saint of Dunkeld and its monastery.” – Historic Environment Scotland

It was actually a very crisp morning and the cathedral was also under construction, so we were not able to access parts of the building. So, to be honest we didn’t explore as much of the Cathedral as we could have. I did find it interesting that the Cathedral has mixed architecture because of the length of time it was under construction.

“There are paintings dating from the 1500s on the vault of the bell tower’s ground floor, which once served as an ecclesiastical court. There are also fine memorials in the choir, including the effigy of Alexander Stewart, Earl of Buchan – notorious as ‘The Wolf of Badenoch’.” – Historic Environment Scotland

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The landscape around Dunkeld was also extraordinarily beautiful in the early morning and this was just an early glimpse of what was to come for the rest of our trip!

After exploring as much of the Cathedral as we could, we wandered into the little town of Dunkeld to grab a cup of coffee/tea to take back to the bus with us. We got to know some of our tour mates a little better and even bonded a bit over our Canadian-ness with our fellow Canadian tour mates! (Apparently we have Canadian accents! Who knew!)

The Atholl Memorial Fountain in Dunkeld

Dunkeld’s town history dates back to the Romans and the Picts and this is because of its strategic location. It became a centre for Christianity in the 7th century when Columba came over from Iona. In the 9th Century, King Kenneth MacAlpin, the first king of Scotland, made Dunkeld the head of the Celtic Church, as well as the newly formed nation of the Scots and the Picts. So, as you can see there is plenty to learn in Dunkeld, we just didn’t have enough time to explore. Therefore there is an even bigger reason to return!

You can get a bit more info on the town and Cathedral on the town website here.

Getting back on the road, the scenery continued to amaze us! Scotland has some of the most diverse landscapes I’ve ever seen! It somehow reminded me a bit of home with its lochs and mountains but in a completely different setting.

Next, we drove through the Cairngorms National Park and stopped at Aviemore for lunch. We learned that the this national park is popular year round for loads of outdoor activities – from skiing in the winter to biking, hiking and golfing!

After our lunch stop, we continued north – passing through Inverness. We didn’t stop here today but we would return to Inverness on Day 4 of the trip. After Inverness, we headed northwest towards the coast. Greg informed us that our next stop would be Corrieshalloch Gorge and the Falls of Measach.

Come back and read more about these gorge-ous Falls in our next post! (Ha! Couldn’t resist!)

From Vancouver with Love,

Ioana and Natalie

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