HAGGiS Adventures Compass Buster Tour: Day 8 – Of Trees, Castles and Skye!

We woke up bright and early on Day 8 of our Compass Buster tour. We wandered outside and saw that a huge bus was awaiting us. We would no longer be traveling in our cozy wee yellow bus. Instead we were herded onto a packed, “your-typical-guided-tour” tourbus 😔 This time, we had a driver and a tourguide, instead of the driver-guide that we had for the first 7 days of our trip. With the music blasting (Walking on the Waves by Skipinnish – love!), we were off.

The Scottish Highlands are truly beautiful – with the mist, the mountains, the valleys and rivers coming together to create this spectacular scenery.


Our first stop was the HAGGiS grove in Glen Moriston. While this may not be a well-known attraction, it was a meaningful one.

We learned that thousands of years ago, the Highlands of Scotland was covered with native woodlands. Unfortunately through the years, human activities (humans are the worst!) have led to significant deforestation. Currently it is said that less than 1% of the original forests exist.

So HAGGiS Adventures has teamed up with Trees for Life UK to help restore the Caledonian Forest through their Stay Wild project. This project encourages passengers to support Trees for Life. And some trips, like ours, even have the opportunity to visit the HAGGiS grove and plant some saplings.

Once our bus was parked, we scrambled over some rocks and fences and walked a short distance to our tree planting site. There, we were met by a forest ranger who told us more about the factors leading to the loss of the Caledonian Forest, the Trees for Life UK organization and their goal of restoring the native trees and habitat. I thought this was a really inspiring and worthwhile cause and it was really neat knowing that we would be planting some saplings today which would become part of the forest here! Imagine coming back here in 20 years to see how our saplings fared!

Once our little saplings were safely in the ground, we waved them goodbye and headed back to the bus.

~~~~~

Our next stop was actually a site that we had already visited earlier on Day 4 – Eileen Donan Castle. I think our group would have appreciated visiting something that we hadn’t already seen, but seeing as some of our new group mates hadn’t been here yet, a stop at this iconic castle was up next!


We were glad to have another chance to see Eilean Donan – because this time, it was sunny! And we got to see the castle in a different light.

A piper photographed with the one of the most iconic Scottish castles in the background – perfection!

Because we had already visited the inside of Eilean Donan Castle, we spent our allotted time here trying to capture the castle from different angles!

After finding our tour bus in the busy parking lot (much harder to find this bus compared to our bright wild and sexy yellow midi-bus!), we piled back onto the big blue bus.

~~~~~

Our next stop was another repeat – the charming village Portree on the Isle of Skye. This time we were just stopping for a quick lunch.


We went down to the little harbour and grabbed some fish and chips. We had a lovely lunch by the water – despite having to defend our lunch from the aggressive seagulls!

Lunch with a side of this view was just amazing!

Amazing panorama!

Next up? A hike up to one of Skye’s most famous attraction! (Note the upgrade to a hike, instead of a wee walk 😥🤣) Check back soon for our next post!

From Vancouver with Love,

Ioana and Natalie

LettersofWanderlust3


© 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!

Advertisements

HAGGiS Adventures Compass Buster Tour: Day 7 – Urquhart Castle 

As we headed south towards our final destination for Day 7 of our Compass Buster tour, we stopped by for a quick look at the ruins of a famous Scottish castle – Urquhart Castle.

With the dark clouds and the low mist, the forests around here looked hauntingly beautiful that day.

Urquhart Castle is located on a promontory looking out over Loch Ness. So it makes for a nice trip to visit Urquhart Castle, Loch Ness and Invermoriston (more on those later!) all in one go!

Our first glimpse at the world famous Loch Ness!

Although we didn’t get the chance to go inside and explore the ruins of Urquhart Castle on this trip, we did manage to peer through some greenery for a glimpse.

Urquhart Castle has a rich history, from being a Pictish site to the struggle between the English and Scots. It is said that St. Columba may have set foot here and even encountered a monster in the loch! (Nessie?! 🐉 Is that you?)

Urquhart Castle has had a tumultuous past – being passed back and forth between English and Scottish control and also being raided by feuding Clans. Eventually the castle passed onto Clan Grant. They then constructed Grant Tower, which still stands as the tallest part of the castle and reportedly has walls that are up to 3 meters thick! Unfortunately the Grants’ hold on Urquhart Castle would not last. With the Jacobite risings, government forces were stationed at the castle and when they departed, they blew it up so that it could no longer be used by the Jacobites.

Urquhart Castle is now in the care of Historic Environment Scotland. You can visit and wander around the ruins of this famous castle. Admission and visiting information can be found here.

Just reading some reviews online, people report it can get very busy in the carpark – especially during peak season with all the tourists and tour buses. This is something to keep in mind when you are planning your visit to one of the most visited castles in Scotland. There are Loch Ness sightseeing cruises that include admission to Urquhart Castle – so that could be one way to get around the parking problem and spot Nessie while you’re at it!

As I promised last week, I want to share with you one of my favourite photographs from this trip.

And here it is:

I love the way the shrubbery frames Urquhart Castle. It provides such a nice frame – almost reminding me of fairy tales and Briar Rose, for some particular reason. The view looking out onto Loch Ness provides a moody and forlorn atmosphere, which suited this particular shot.

I can imagine how different and spectacular Urquhart Castle would look in the sun, with Loch Ness reflecting the mountains, the sun and the blue skies! Perhaps next time we are here, we’ll pop into the castle for a visit and hopefully get to see the castle ruins in the beautiful sunshine!

Stay tuned for a new post next week as Day 7 continues!

From Vancouver with Love,

Ioana and Natalie

LettersofWanderlust3


© 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 7 – Learning about the Highlands

After a great time learning about the history of Orkney and exploring its wild and rugged landscape, it was time to return to mainland Scotland for Day 7 of our Compass Buster tour.

The night before we were to return, there was a bit of a storm brewing! We could hear the howling wind as we were cooking dinner and having a night-in with our group mates at the Orcades Hostel. Even as we left the next morning, the wind was still blowing and the rain kept falling. The wind and the rain doesn’t really bother us – being from Raincouver and all! But we were a bit nervous about the ferry ride back to the mainland.

This ferry ride was completely different from our ride to the Orkney islands. That time, we were bathed in sunshine on the upper deck. This time, the ferry tossed from side to side and splashed up and down as we crossed back to mainland Scotland. Ioana and I decided to hide out inside. I will admit – I did feel a bit queasy 🤢 There may or may not have been stories of people throwing up on the upper deck… A great piece of advice we got from our group mates… don’t stand downwind from someone who might throw up! It most probably won’t end well for you!

At last, we arrived back to mainland Scotland and back on solid ground.

Our first mini-stop was only a couple of minutes from the ferry terminal. Unfortunately this stop is “mini” because we could not actually access it!

Pretty clear we can’t go in, eh?

This is The Castle of Mey – purchased by the Queen Mother in 1952. Prior to that, it was known as Barrogill Castle and was the seat of the Earls of Caithness. This castle, the most northerly on the British mainland, was restored and renovated by the Queen Mother.  The castle also includes several gardens, which the Queen Mother took much interest in selecting the plants and tending to them. You can even purchase fresh veggies grown from the gardens here!

Although we did not go inside for a visit this time, it is possible to visit the Castle, garden and grounds. More information on admission and visiting can be found here. I think it would be interesting to visit the Castle of Mey. It is said that much of the interiors is still set out as the Queen Mother had it, along with furniture, bathroom fittings, photographs and portraits that she chose herself.

Alas, we would have to resign ourselves to a faraway photograph on this trip!

After reveling in our little Royal visit, we hopped back onto the bus for a short ride to Dunnet Bay. Even though it was still windy and spitting rain, I found it beautiful and calming – even with the rolling waves. Perhaps it was because we had this beach all to ourselves.

You could wander on and on…

From Dunnet Bay, you can even get a glimpse of Dunnet Head – the most Northerly point on the British mainland.

After a bit of a reprieve from the storm, it picked up again, just as we arrived at our next destination – Dunbeath Harbour.

Check out this spectacular and wild coastal scene. The white castle perched up on those cliffs, with the storm brewing all around it and the waves crashing underneath.

What a wild and rugged picture. I’m actually glad we saw this on a stormy day – it kinda fits the picture that I have in my head of Scotland. But I imagine it would look quite different and beautiful on a clear, sunny day.

This building is Dunbeath Castle. As it is a private home, it is not open to the public. So I will have to just imagine the stunning views from the windows of this castle – stormy or not!

Heading out of Dunbeath, we continued south towards our next stop. This next stop was a sobering history lesson.

We soon arrived at Badbea Clearance Village. As it was pretty miserable outside, Andy did give us the option to stay on the bus. But most of us wanted to learn more about the Highland Clearances, so we followed Andy out into rain.

Walking through this area with the rain and wind around us set a solemn tone for us as we listened to Andy explain the history and factors behind the Highland Clearances.

The Highland Clearances occurred mostly during the 18th and 19th centuries. Entire Highland families were evicted from their homes and farms, some forcibly and some with their homes and villages burnt to the ground. Instead of being resettled to green pastures where they could continue farming, these families were given small plots of land, which were often not well suited to farming.

One such Clearance Village is the Badbea Clearance Village. Located on the rugged coast and on a steep slope, residents had to clear the land for farming and build their own homes with whatever they could find.

The village is no longer inhabited and has fallen into ruin. But even just looking at the land and the ruins, it was easy to see that this is not very good farmland. Villagers tried to make the best of the situation – some turned to fishing and its associated industries, while others took on spinning and carding wool. But ultimately, the village’s last resident left in 1911. All that is left here are the ruins of their homes, which nature has already taken over again.

The monument here, erected by a descendent of a Badbea villager, commemorates the people of Badbea.

The Highland Clearances had other far reaching and permanent effects. The culture of the Highlands was forever changed. The old, traditional Clan system, their way of living and their settlements were no more. Wearing of Highland Dress, including tartan and kilts, was banned with the Dress Act 1746. Even speaking Scottish Gaelic could be met with punishments. It also led to the emigration of Scots to all corners of the globe – for example Nova Scotia or New Scotland. Even though the Dress Act 1746 was repealed and there are now efforts to revive and promote Scottish Gaelic, all of this has had a huge impact on the cultural fabric of present day Scotland.

After a tragic and reflective history lesson, we headed off to our next stop still deep in thought.

Half an hour later, Andy pulled the bus over and our group took a stroll down this pretty laneway to our next stop.

Can you spot our destination yet?

What a grand entrance into Dunrobin Castle!

We didn’t get the chance to go inside but we admired its beautiful facade, architecture and…

… its beautiful clock tower!

We also noticed these little features on the walls – can you spot the cannons?

Before heading off to our next destination, we stopped for a quick afternoon snack 😋 We could never resist dessert! This time it was a beautiful and sparkly blueberry and white chocolate cheesecake. Although this cake was really yummy, the cheesecake we got at Beauly was still the most delicious!

First time having a SPARKLY cheesecake!

Stay tuned for our next post – it’s going to feature another one of my favourite photographs from this entire Scotland trip!

From Vancouver with Love,

Ioana and Natalie

LettersofWanderlust3


© 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!

Exploring Dalhousie Castle

After a wonderful dinner at the Dungeon Restaurant, Ioana and I couldn’t resist taking some fun pictures before calling it a night.

How many Ioana’s can fit on the bed?!

This was the view from our window the next morning 😍

Waking up in a castle does have its perks 😉

Eventually we managed to pull ourselves out of bed and headed down for breakfast.

Breakfast is served in the Orangery. For breakfast, I had the scrambled eggs with Scottish smoked salmon. Delicious way to wake up! In addition to a cooked breakfast selection, there was also a selection of tasty pastries, muffins, juices, fruits and yogurts to help you start your day off right!

After breakfast, we packed up and left our bags with reception so we could explore Dalhousie Castle and its grounds a little bit more before heading back to Edinburgh.

It was another gorgeous day – perfect for exploring the castle grounds! (and having some fun…)


There were some trails around the castle grounds and we went for a wee ramble – walking past the neighbouring fields, ducking under tree branches, stepping over roots… It’s always nice to be outside, enjoying nature and the scenery.


There is a falconry on site at the castle. And you can book one of several experiences to learn more about these birds of prey and to hold and fly one! If you’re getting married at Dalhousie Castle, you can even get an owl to fly in during your ceremony and deliver your rings!

We didn’t sign up for a falconry experience. We just happened to be out on the grounds when this bird had a practice session with its trainer. (We won’t go into the ethics, animal rights or morals of this here. We are just stating what we saw.)

Back inside, there was more to admire…

Eventually, it was inevitable – we had to say goodbye to Dalhousie Castle. (We contemplated hiding in the room, or even in the woods behind the castle… But figured we would be found and booted out pretty quickly!)

We had such a lovely stay here – from the wonderful welcome we received, our conversation with the Castle Steward, our Afternoon Tea, our relaxing and rejuvenating spa treatments, our three course dinner at the Dungeon Restaurant to the friendly and hospitable staff! We can’t wait to come back for another visit!

But for now, it was back to Edinburgh for us, where another adventure awaited us. This adventure would involve our noses, our palates and… perhaps a wee dram!

From Vancouver with Love,

Ioana and Natalie

LettersofWanderlust3


© 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!

Dinner in the Dungeon

After a lovely birthday tea celebration in the Orangery and some pampering at the Aqueous Spa, it was evening time at Dalhousie Castle and time for dinner!

image

Included in our package was a 3 course dinner at Dalhousie Castle’s Dungeon Restaurant.

“Awarded 2 AA Rosettes, our menu is a modern interpretation of classic Scottish dishes cooked and prepared in a classic French cooking style, whilst using locally sourced produce.”

We had been hosteling and adventuring for the past 2 weeks, so it was nice to be pampered a little bit at the castle and we were excited to get dressed up for dinner!

We were instructed when we checked into Dalhousie Castle to head to the Library 30 minutes prior to our dinner reservation for drinks. Walking in, we immediately noticed how cozy it was. Ioana and I both LOVE reading and although we didn’t have a chance to actually sit down and read in this library, we could definitely see ourselves enjoying a good read and a warm drink here! (On our next stay, for sure!)

ezywatermark161016104801101

We settled into a couch in the Library and were presented with some menus. We ordered our drinks (A nice rosé) and perused the dinner menu. Instead of ordering at the table, they took our orders for dinner here, even before we headed down to the actual Dungeon Restaurant. This meant the kitchen had adequate time to prepare our food, whilst we lounged in the Library with our drinks.

image

We were also served a selection of hor d’oeuvres whilst we lounged in the Library. We enjoyed our time drinking our wine, chatting with other diners, hearing their travel stories and enjoying the warm and cozy ambiance of the Library.

ezywatermark1610161047121012

ezywatermark1610161046381038

After about 30 – 35 minutes, we were led down to the Dungeon! (I guess hundreds of years ago, I wouldn’t be saying that with enthusiasm!)

image

It was a really neat setting for a restaurant. The barrel vaulted ceilings, the exposed bricks, with suits of armour, swords and shields on the walls… So now we can say we have dined in a dungeon! How many of you can say that? 😉

image

The restaurant was not packed to the rafters that night – it was a Monday night afterall. But there were several other parties dining already. The tables were spaced out nicely and you didn’t feel like you were intruding on others’ conversations or bumping elbows with others.

image

The decor here was definitely more formal than when we had our Afternoon Tea in the Orangery earlier in the afternoon.

image

ezywatermark1610161044361036

ezywatermark1610161045291029

Blurry picture 😦

Before we get to the food, here’s a disclaimer. We totally did not take notes while we were eating dinner that evening. And we also forgot to take a photograph of the menu… Hence one year later, we have a vague idea of what we ate, but we could also be completely wrong! We definitely have learned our lesson!! So here goes nothing…

For my starter, I went with the Roast Plum Tomato Terrine with a basil salad. Tomatoes and basil are the perfect combination in my books, so I really enjoyed this starter. The terrine had an nice, smooth texture and mouth feel. The balsamic and chutney pulled the dish together. All the different flavours and textures on the plate worked together to create a very enjoyable starter.

image

Here’s Ioana’s starter… which we think was the Glazed Perthshire Lamb Sweetbreads with balsamic and parmesan!

ezywatermark1610161039171017

We picked the same main course this evening – the Pan Fried Wild Scottish Pollock with caper butter. (Ioana was saving her first taste of Haggis for later on in the trip!) The fish was cooked well – not overdone and fell apart easily. The sauce and the caper butter complimented the fish well – gave it more flavour but did not overpower the dish. There could have perhaps been more vegetables on the plate (there’s the dietitian side of me coming out!), but overall it was a quality dish!

image

After our dinner, we were presented with a complimentary pre-dessert treat! I won’t even guess at what was on this plate – besides the mini madeleine, that we know for sure! (Although it could have been a crazy flavour, which we have since forgotten… 😦 )

image

Then came our desserts – our favourite part of any meal! We were glad the portions of the starters and mains were not too large, or we wouldn’t have room for dessert!

Ioana had the Iced Apple Parfait with Toffee and Walnut Sponge. The apple flavour was very refreshing and balanced out the sweeter flavour of the toffee. The crunch of the walnuts also added another texture to this lovely dessert.

ezywatermark1610161037281028

I went with the Dark Chocolate Delice. The dark chocolate delice was delicious – smooth, rich and indulgent! There was also a bit of ice cream to add a different flavour and mouth feel, compared to the delice. Yum!

image

After a lovely dinner in the Dungeon Restaurant, we went for a ramble around the castle. We peeked into various rooms, looked at the paintings and photographs on the walls and learned a bit more history about Dalhousie Castle and Clan Ramsay.

ezywatermark161016103302102

Love the curtains, the ceiling, the windows the chandeliers, the carpet… basically loved everything!

We continued down a hallway and came upon this:

ezywatermark1610161034381038

Everything set up for the wedding that Andrew, the Castle Steward and Piper, was telling us about earlier this afternoon.

image

ezywatermark1610161036131013

As it was getting late, we headed back up to our room for some sleep. We also didn’t want to run into any… “special guests!”

It is said that Dalhousie Castle is one of the top 10 haunted castles in Europe. Among the sightings of animal ghosts, butler ghosts and some even say the ghost of Sir Alexander Ramsay, perhaps the most famous is that of the “Grey Lady.” The Grey Lady is also known as the ghost of lovelorn Lady Catherine of Dalhousie. She is said to haunt the castle, wandering through doors, hallways, guest rooms and the Dungeon. Guests and staff alike have reported seeing glimpses of her, feeling her ghostly antics and other strange, paranormal experiences.

To avoid meeting Lady Catherine, however nice she may be, we headed back up the stairs and into our room, hoping she would stick another part of the castle tonight.

image

Since we only had one night’s stay at this beautiful hotel, we were definitely not leaving early in the morning! We were determined to enjoy as much of Dalhousie Castle and its beautiful grounds before we left. Stay tuned for more of our stay in our next post!

From Vancouver with Love,

Ioana and Natalie

LettersofWanderlust3


© 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!

Birthday Afternoon Tea at Dalhousie Castle 

Almost exactly a year and 2 weeks ago, we were in Edinburgh for Ioana’s birthday. What better way to celebrate than a stay at the historic, luxurious and beautiful Dalhousie Castle!

image

First up in the birthday celebrations was Afternoon Tea!

Tea was held in the Orangery – which had a lovely view of the greenery surrounding the castle. In addition to serving Afternoon Tea, the Orangery also serves a contemporary menu for lunch and dinner in a ‘relaxed bistro’ setting.

image

The Orangery was lovely – it had large windows all around, that let in the autumn sun. We got a table right by the window so we could bask in the sunshine.

The Orangery is more relaxed than the Dungeon Restaurant, which we would be visiting later that day. I might call it casual elegance? It was decorated in a simple, yet beautiful manner. I liked that it had a bit of a rustic feel, with the exposed bricks and the simple but pretty fresh flowers on each table. Yet, there were also chandeliers hanging from the ceiling for a touch of elegance.

Love the pretty pink carnations!

Here was the menu for Afternoon Tea in Fall 2015. I’m sure the menu has changed since then. Has anyone been to Dalhousie for Afternoon Tea recently? How was it?

We took a look at the tea menu and after much pondering, finally decided on our teas. (Good thing we got a standard tea set of sandwiches, scones and sweets! If we had to choose… oh boy! 😫)

Soon, our teas arrived. Ioana had the Sapphire Earl Grey and I chose the Darjeeling. The teas came with this – something we had never seen before. A tea timer hourglass. We were instructed to look at our respective tea timer to know how long to steep our tea for.

After a couple sips of tea, the Tomato Consommé with Basil arrived. It was a chilled soup, which was very refreshing and flavourful. I love basil – so I thought that was a lovely way to start off our Afternoon Tea. It was also nice to get a chilled soup as it was getting quite warm inside the Orangery – a bit of a greenhouse effect with all the glass windows!

Next, our sandwiches, scones and sweets arrived on a very contemporary stand – definitely different from what we were expecting… But we thought the wooden stand matched well with the setting of the Orangery.

Here’s the food. It’s funny because every time we go for Afternoon Tea, we look at it and always think it’s not THAT much food. Yet… we never end up finishing the entire tea service!

I did ask for some vegetarian substitutions, so some of the food we got was different from the menu above.

Here’s what we had:

Spiced Crabsticks on Milk Brioche Roll, Smoked Chicken Tartelette, Salmon Rillette – Filo

Cucumber on Farmhouse White, Home Roast Ham and Rocket on Farmhouse Brown, Hens’ Egg and Cress on Farmhouse White

Fruit and Plain Scone, with local preserve and clotted cream

Gateau Opera, Cream filled Meringue

Raspberry Cranachan

Dundee Cake, Citrus Meringue Tartelette

Nougat, Dark Chocolate and Praline Truffle, Macaron

We started with some of the sweets, because we noticed they were starting to melt in the warmth of the Orangery. I love nougat, so having this at tea time was a special treat – as I don’t think I’ve ever had Tea where nougat was served!

Next, we went with the sandwiches. This was one of my substitutions as I don’t eat meat. Taking out the meat and replacing it with cheese works for me any and all the time!

A nice refreshing cucumber sandwich…

Egg salad – one of my favourites! And also my staple during this trip, whenever we stopped at supermarkets or a café for lunch…

Onto the scones – a plain and a fruit scone. These were paired with “Local Preserves and Clotted Cream”! I went for the Strawberry, while Ioana went with the Black Currant. I will have to say that we liked the scone we got in the Orkneys (stay tuned for that!) better than the ones here. These ones were good but a bit more doughy.

14646699_10101907008721241_277388153_o

Last but definitely not least, the sweets!

The Gateau Opera was a really decadent cake. The cream layers were rich and the top layer was delicious, chocolatey goodness!

This is the Raspberry Cranachan – something we had never heard of before. As per Wikipedia (always a super reliable source…😝)

“Cranachan is a traditional Scottish dessert. In modern times, it is usually made from a mixture of whipped cream, whisky, honey and fresh raspberries, with toasted oatmeal soaked overnight in a little bit of whisky.”

Since we haven’t had this before, we didn’t have anything to compare it to. It was almost like a yogurt parfait but richer – with whipped cream instead. We might have to find a recipe and try making this ourselves! Anyone got one to share?

This is the Citrus Meringue Tartelette – it was a light, simple but tasty treat, with a nice crust.

The aftermath… we tried really hard to finish everything but we just couldn’t!

We had a lovely Afternoon Tea celebration for Ioana’s birthday! 🎉🎂☕

But the celebrations weren’t over just yet. We were off for our spa treatments, which were included in the package we booked. We each got a one-hour spa treatment and were free to use the rest of the spa facilities afterwards. It was a quiet day, so we had the spa all to ourselves. We took our time enjoying the foot baths (we definitely needed that to pamper our feet after all of our walking, exploring and adventures!), the Turkish style steam bath, a sweating room and lastly, spent some time lounging in the sunny Tepidarium.

After all of that relaxation and pampering, it was time to get dressed for dinner! We would be dining in the dungeon that evening! Pretty cool to be able to say we have dined in a dungeon.

Stay tuned for more on this beautiful castle and some tasty food in our next post!

From Vancouver with Love,

Ioana and Natalie

LettersofWanderlust3


© 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!

The Splurge!

While we were planning our Ireland and Scotland trip, we noticed that we would be in Edinburgh on Ioana’s birthday.

And that called for a celebration! So we searched for something special to do… something that would give us an excuse to get dressed up on a backpacking trip 😆 We thought of going to a nice place for Afternoon Tea, going for a nice dinner somewhere or a spa day, but those were all things that we could do at home. We wanted something a bit more special – since we were in Scotland after all.

When we came upon a package deal from Dalhousie Castle, we knew that would be our splurge for the trip!

The deal cost £300 for 2 people and included one night bed and breakfast stay, 2 spa treatments, use of the spa facilities, a 3 course dinner for 2 and drinks at the Dungeon Restaurant. We thought it was a good deal for a splurge, considering what was included in the package.

Plus! This was our chance to stay in a real CASTLE! Dalhousie Castle – a castle that reportedly dates back to the 13th century and holds the title of the “Oldest Inhabited Castle” in Scotland. If only those bricks could talk!

We excitedly booked our stay for Dalhousie Castle. We were looking forward to taking a break from staying in hostels and pampering ourselves for one night!

~~~~~

After a busy Day 2 in Edinburgh, we were ready for a bit of relaxation and luxury on Day 3! But first, we had to get to Dalhousie…

Dalhousie is a little ways outside of Edinburgh, near the town of Bonnyrigg. But it is accessible via public transit – we took Bus 31 towards Bonnyrigg and got off at Brixwold Bank. The bus journey took about 30 minutes. From there, it was a 15 min walk down the B704 to Dalhousie Castle.

Or you could always take a cab there, especially if you have lots of luggage. We were able to leave most of our luggage behind at our hostel, since we were only staying at Dalhousie for one night.

So, with our small day bags in hand, we headed off to the bus stop on North Bridge.

It was another lovely fall morning in Edinburgh. While we waited for our bus, we got another chance to admire the views and architecture of the buildings around us.

image

image

Calton Hill just looks beautiful from any direction!

image

image

The Balmoral and its clock tower

image

We boarded the bus and tried to confirm with the bus driver that our stop was on his route. He unfortunately wasn’t sure! Fortunately for us, another passenger informed us that we were on the right bus. He was even kind enough to let us know when our stop was coming up!

Once we got off the bus, we started the leisurely walk towards our castle – yup, I said ‘our’ 😉

There were helpful signs along the way. The walk wasn’t long, hilly or difficult but the sidewalk is very narrow on parts of the walk, so if you have large rolling suitcases, taking a cab might be a better idea!

image

Here we are – turning into our Castle!

image

Definitely felt like we were approaching a fine estate!

We even made a new friend on our way to the Castle. This friendly horse was just grazing leisurely in a pasture by the road.

Here’s the first glimpse of the Castle from the road…

image

And once you rounded the bend towards the Castle, you are greeted with this…

It just gets better as we drew closer and closer to the red brick building.

Here is Dalhousie Castle. What a beautiful Castle – with the design, the ivy climbing up its walls and the flag of Scotland flying proudly atop the Castle.

Now… there was another reason we chose Dalhousie Castle. It has a wee Canadian connection!

Dalhousie Castle was the previous seat of the Earls of Dalhousie – chief of Clan Ramsay. In the early 1800’s, George Ramsay, the 9th Earl of Dalhousie, was the Lieutenant Governor of Nova Scotia (a Canadian province) and later was also the Governor General of British North America. While he was in Nova Scotia, he founded Dalhousie University – which exists to this date. Once we found this little Canadian connection, we knew we had to stay at Dalhousie Castle!

The decision to stay here was also made easier by the romantically beautiful castle! The photographs on the website are great, but to see it in person was even better!

The beautiful drum tower, which is reportedly the oldest part of the current castle.

After checking in, we were scheduled to celebrate Ioana’s birthday with Afternoon Tea!

We were a little early though and they weren’t open yet, so we decided to take a stroll around the castle.

We had the pleasure of meeting the Castle Steward and piper – Andrew, who was so welcoming and friendly. He told us a little bit about the castle and its history, the wedding that was to be held here the next day and applauded me on the correct way I pronounced Edinburgh! (Who knew!)

Since it was a gorgeous day, we wandered outside for a glimpse of the castle grounds.

Here is the Orangery – where we would be having Afternoon Tea later on.

To continue the tradition started in Ireland, there was also to be some gazing at Dalhousie!

Just gazing…

And more gazing…

Since we decided Afternoon Tea would be our lunch, we had only eaten one meal that day so far. By this time, we were feeling a bit hungry! Good thing when we were walking down the Royal Mile to the bus stop this morning, we were tempted to purchase some shortbread cookies at a souvenir shop! Ever since I was a little girl, Walkers has always been my go-to for shortbread (I’m guessing some nostalgia and childhood memories factor into this decision!) And this pack wasn’t just ordinary shortbread – they were mini Scottie dogs! Cute – almost too cute to eat!

image

But we were hungry… so to tide us over until Afternoon Tea, we broke open a pack of the Mini Scottie Dogs and enjoyed some shortbread in the sunshine, with a view of the castle grounds.

image

We couldn’t resist taking more photographs of and with this beautiful castle.

After a couple more selfies with our Castle as the backdrop, the Orangery was open and it was time for the celebratory Birthday Tea!

From Vancouver with Love,

Ioana and Natalie

LettersofWanderlust3


© 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!