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February 10, 2016

A Day in Southern Scotland

One of my favorite aspects of traveling Europe is how much ground you can cover in just a day.  We had just wrapped up an incredible Christmas in York, England with a few days before we had to catch our flight to Amsterdam for New Years Eve, so naturally we decided to road trip up north to beautiful Scotland for a day and see what we could find. Driving long distances is a relatively normal occurrence for us, and something we really enjoy, so going on this adventure didn’t require a second thought. Why spend just a day in Scotland? Well, that’s all the time that we had. While we had to pick and choose which spots were worth our time, I think we made the right decisions in the end. From where we stayed in Edinburgh, we were able to drive to and explore all these spots in the span of an entire day. Our bodies hated us but it was entirely worth it. The thing about traveling is that you never know when you’ll be back in that particular area again and you’ve got to make the most of the time you have. It’s really easy to opt for sleeping in while you’re on vacation but especially on a day like this, I’m so glad we didn’t hit snooze.
Arthur’s Seat

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Arthur's Seat Edinburgh

Arthur’s Seat Edinburgh


Often hikes will take you to a peak with incredible views of lakes, valleys or vistas – at least the ones we were used to. This 1.5 hour return journey took us to an epic viewpoint overlooking the gorgeous city of Edinburgh and I’d have to argue that it was just as breath-taking as anything you’d find in the Rockies. Sheer, jagged cliffs combined with strong winds made us a little bit weary of looking down but we stayed up top for a while just admiring the views. We saw quite a few people on the trails on their morning runs, which tells you about how quick and easy it is to do. In fact, parts of the trail are even paved.

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Arthur's Seat Edinburgh

Arthur’s Seat Edinburgh


The Kelpies

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The Kelpies Scotland

The Kelpies Scotland

 

Imagine 40-foot –high, silver horse heads sticking out of the ground just off the main highway and just how shocked we were at seeing them come out of nowhere while driving along to our next destination. You can probably guess how quickly we pulled off the highway to turn around to investigate further. Turns out these were The Kelpies, artwork commissioned in 2013 as part of a plan to build a new loch (aka a ship’s passageway).  The horses represent a large portion of Scottish culture and while we’re not that keen on super “touristy” attractions, we made an exception for this. No matter which direction you’re heading, make time to stop and gawk at these. It only added about 30 minutes to our clock.


Finich Glen (aka The Devil’s Pulpit)

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Finich Glen aka Devil's Pulpit Scotland

Finich Glen aka Devil’s Pulpit Scotland

 

This was the cherry on top of the entire day. I don’t think the pictures do it any justice, regardless of how amazing they are. I honestly just sat by the banks of the river and watched it move, which says a lot with my borderline ADHD personality. I could go on and on raving about this place but I’ll talk about the basics. Firstly, it’s really, really hard to find. We had to scroll through forums until someone was able to give accurate enough directions. Finich Glen is literally in the middle of nowhere. It’s located near Drymen, in the West Highlands of Scotland, which you don’t realize is so rural until you’re actually on your way. To get there, you park along the side of a pretty narrow road and hop a fence (which sounds bad, but there was no indication that we were trespassing). The trail is pretty well-worn and takes you deep into the forest walking along the cliffs which overlook the river. At this point you’ll probably start thinking that you have no idea HOW you’re going to get down to see the famous red water canyon, but out of nowhere, stairs appeared. These slippery, narrow, stone steps are referred to as Jacob’s Ladder and following them downwards into the canyon is absolutely surreal. There’s even ropes to help out explorers on the steeper parts. I find it incredible that a place this insanely beautiful wasn’t teeming with people but I was overjoyed by the fact that we were the only ones there for the better part of an hour. This place needs to be on every single person’s bucket list. In all my travels, I don’t think I’ve ever been so spellbound by a place.

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Finich Glen aka Devil's Pulpit Scotland

Finich Glen aka Devil’s Pulpit Scotland

We plan to return to the UK very soon and exploring Scotland’s Isle of Skye is our next target. While ticking things off the list is always good, it’s also fun to explore places that were never on the list at all!

 

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