Made my plans to conquer the country

I know I bang on about it quite a lot, but I really do fucking love Scotland. My trip up around the Higlands with Nicola only served to cement my obsession with the place – we had an absolutely awesome time. We started and finished the tour in Edinburgh, cramming in the Isle of Skye, Loch Ness, Inverness, Aviemore, Pitlochry and St.Andrews in between.

Me and Nic on our way up Arthur’s Seat. Rather stupidly we went the hard way up, but surprised myself by actually volunteering myself to do it. Anyone who knows me knows I completely loathe walking. Surprising myself on holiday seems to be becoming a bit of a habit.

After discovering the ‘easy’ way up the hill after going the hard way, we wandered around for a little while, while the sun decided to set. I don’t think I’ve ever been to Edinburgh with such nice weather.

Next day we set off from the ‘burgh over to the Isle of Skye, stopping off at various points of interest. I had a little bit of wobble as we drove through Callander – the last time I was there I was with my ex before it all went to shit – but cheered myself up considerably by feeding Hamish. Bit of a pampered coo though, he got very sulky once we’d run out of noms for him.

This is my favourite picture from Skye. We stayed for a couple of nights in Kyleakin and were treated to a really glorious sunset on our second night. Me and Nic decided to find the coastal path to the remains of Dunakin castle, but we’d gone in pumps which were promptly ruined by the sea, climbing up rocks and mud. The beautiful pictures made up for all the bloody midge bites.

“Is this where I find the sweet release of death?”
“I swear if this doesn’t burn off any calories I’m going to punch God”

Our tour leader Graeme suggested we stop off for some beer and cider supplies and go for a walk in the forest nearby. I presumed he just meant a normal walk, but this turned out to be the scenic path up here – it was, for all intents and purposes, a climb. Being a desperately unfit fatty it nearly killed me. But Graeme was awfully nice and I did my absolute fucking best not to be a big English jessie, so I made it up. By Christ was the view worth it. (Cider disappeared within a couple of minutes).

Essentially all my pictures were of pretty stunning scenery – particularly on Skye. According to folklore, if you dip your face in this river (which you may only do once in your lifetime) you’ll attain great beauty. I decided my face was excellent enough thankyouverymuch.

Ominous clouds over Eilean Donan castle, on a day which ended up being really bloody hot. I’m going to petition Hayley and Scott to get married there, as it is awesome. I’ll run around in my bridesmaid dress and pretend to be a princess – I’ve got it all planned out.

In yet a further attempt to prove that English girls aren’t wimps and also surprise myself a little bit more, I took a dip in Loch Ness in my pj’s. No, I am not doing a Reggie Perrin – I didn’t want to let the side down. Earlier on we’d gone on a boat trip around parts of the Loch and gone wandering up and down waterfalls in the baking sun, so it was at the very least pretty refreshing. Not as refreshing as the whisky passed around the bus afterwards though.

We spent our last night in Pitlochry, and after a box of punch, the evening descended into drinking games, booze runs and quite a bit of drama. Mainly because we were sharing the hostel with a Christian rambling group, so it kind of went without saying that we ought to drink and swear quite a bit. That was fun. Although not as fun as talking to one of the old men from the ramblers – he looked like a manic santa and spent a good 15 minutes telling me how he got rescued on a climb earlier that day and had just been let out of hospital. I dutifully responded with the appropriate “Oh my, I hope you are okay?” type of questions, but he shook it off. “Oh I’m fine my dear, I only had the one helicopter this time, last year it was two” he beamed, before disappearing into the night.

The last morning was spent at the Hermitage in Craigvinean forest. A really really beautiful place, which we probably didn’t appreciate enough thanks to the hangovers and drama. But, in retrospect, probably a really good place to be when in a delicate state thanks to the stunning scenary, tranquility and general atmosphere of the place.

A load more was crammed in (more views, many pasties etc), before winding up for a nice wander around St. Andrews (I did not find my own Prince William) and heading back to Edinburgh for farewells and a bloody good kip.

Other highlights included the battlefield at Culloden, eating the best fish and chips in the world (sorry dad), Peatbog Faeries, legendary tales of Invernessian housewives, trying to make sense of whatever Brij was saying, the ancient art of gossiping bringing all nationalities together, that freaking awesome cider on Skye and the almost constant presence of a kilt. Mmm.

So that was my truly awful introspective look at my trip, relevant to no-one and an exercise in showing off. But whatevs.

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