A trip to Scotland - Part 4
So last time, I left off because the post was getting a tad long haha with loads of pics! But our Day 5 trip continued after Scone Palace with us heading towards Cairngorms National Park!
Some pics of the drive:
You'll notice the closer we got to the national park, the more mountains appear in the pics!
Cairngorms National Park - Muir of Dinnet National Nature Reserve
So I should first mention the Cairngorms National Park is NOT just what you're about to see. It's a HUGE, and I mean HUGE, park set in the heart of the Scottish highlands. It's full of castles, distilleries, wildlife, and loads of high mountain tops and low valleys you can go crazy in - by car or bike, just not at night like we did :)
It's truly an amazing place, and on my list to return to next time I'm in Scotland, to spend more time there. Their official website provides a long list of what to do, where to go, as well as tips and tricks if you want to sleep under the stars :)
For us? We stopped by the Muir of Dinnet National Nature Reserve. What attracted me to this particular wooded area was the history. I mean, what's a better mix than nature and history in Scotland, eh? :) So the Muir of Dinnet is filled with wetlands, woods and moors. It used to be full of glaciers and while they all melted, they've left their mark on the land. One such mark is what they call the Burn O'Vat - a cauldron-shaped pothole (last 5 pics in the slideshow below). You have to really go in with proper shoes, but you can squeeze past a crack in the rock and stand there, listening to the echoes of water. It's truly an out-of-this-world experience, like nothing else exists.
The reserve also has multiple walking trails, some harder some easier, and it's doggie-friendly :) You can read more here.
Drive from Cairngorms to Inverness
From there on, it was on to Inverness! The drive at night was peaceful, but boy! Those steep climbs up and down the mountains with zero visibility were something else :P
Day 6 found us in Inverness. From the time we decided to visit Scotland, I wanted to go there. It's near water, around mountains, AND Outlander was filmed there :) I looked at pictures, mapped out the itinerary, prepared myself... but it still stole my breath away.
I don't think this part needs much introduction, but still. The Scottish Highlands are the land of mist, mountains and folklore, but they're also the land of history. One such piece is the heartbreaking story of the deafeat of the Jcobites. On April 16th, 1746, the Jacobite forces of Charles Edward Stuart were defeated by the English on at the Battle of Culloden. The place of the fight has been memorialized and is free to access, with plaques around various areas explaining what had happened, and really trying to put you in the shoes of the Highlanders.
Not that it's needed - you can feel the history in the land, and the reverence in those walking these hallowed grounds. Stones of the clansmen who died there are still decorated with fresh flowers, showing that Scotland remembers their sacrifice.
After a morning spent at the Culloden Battlefield to pay our respects, we headed out to the Inverness Marina to see... DOLPHINS! :) Yep, there are dolphins in Inverness!
Dolphin Spirit is a local business in Inverness, and they do water expeditions to show you the Inverness dolphin family! We were lucky enough to have arrived when the mama dolphin just had her baby, and I caught an amazing picture of the little nugget jumping out of the water!
Dolphin Spirit is very mindful of the dolphins and while explaining to us their characteristics and habits, they were careful not to impede on their territory and be respectful! It was an AMAZING trip and I cannot recommend them enough!! You can book your trip with them here.
After the dolphins, we roamed the city of Inverness for a bit :)
Leakey's Book Shop
And then... landed in THE most amazing bookstore I've ever been to! Located inside an old church, Leakey's blew my mind! If I lived there, I'd be in every single day buying books :P
And last but not least, this is one of the lesser known gems of Inverness - Clava Cairns. Free to access (like most everything I mentioned above! except the dolphins :) ) it's a circular tomb cairn and yes, these particular circles were used for various rituals. Some for burials, others for... Well, let your imagination run wild :)