Edinburgh to Loch Ness and beyond!

Aug 24

Edinburgh to Loch Ness and beyond!

For our last day in Edinburgh, we decided to hike King Arthur’s Seat. King Arthur’s Seat is the main peak in a group of hills which form most of Holyrood Park. Many legends surrounding this mountain lay claim to the story of King Arthur as the site of the famous Camelot. During the evenings, we could see the mountain from our flat which was filled with lights for one of the exhibitions for the Fringe Festival. We thought, since we could see the mountain, it would be a nice walk to the peak.

We walked 30 minutes through the streets, passing Holyrood Palace (which we didn’t get the chance to see), and through to the base of the mountain. We picked the nearest path which took us to the St. Anthony’s Chapel overlooking St. Margaret’s Loch. The chapel is in ruins today, and we spent some time poking around and enjoying the view. We continued the hike up the steep hills with lots of others to the summit of the mountain. The views from the top were absolutely stunning!! Edinburgh Castle was clearly visible in the downtown area as was the port for the city. In the distance we could see two stacks and a very large rock that reminded us fiercely of Morro Bay! We found ourselves a little homesick. Once we reached the top, we were assaulted by a pounding, howling wind with force enough to push us a little off balance! After some time at the top, enjoying the veiws, Ryder’s storm alarm went off on his watch so we decided it was time to head down. Sure enough, 5 minutes later, it started to pour down rain!

Near the bottom of the hike we could see a bunch of white specks coming off of St. Margaret’s Loch. On closer inspection, we realized it was a large flock of swans! They were coming off of the water during the rain to eat the grass on our side of the loch. We spent a good 20 minutes walking among the swans who would proceed to growl/snort at us if we got too close! We couldn’t believe how close we could get! After we had our swan fill, we walked back to our apartment to pack a bit, then headed out for dinner.

We used Lonely Planet to find a good restaurant for dinner, and headed back to the center of Edinburgh to the Urban Angle. The food was excellent and Ryder ordered our first try of haggis. For those of you who don’t know, haggis is a traditional Scottish dish made as a savoury pudding containing sheep’s pluck (heart, liver and lungs); minced with onion, oatmeal, suet, spices, and salt, mixed with stock, and traditionally encased in the animal’s stomach and simmered for approximately three hours. Most modern commercial haggis is prepared in a sausage casing rather than an actual stomach. We are pretty sure we had the sheep’s stomach simmered version. Ryder’s impression of the haggis, “After eating about 10% of it, I was sad there was still the last 90% to go.” I can say, he did finish all of it (I helped a little). We got back to our room, packed and went to bed.

Yesterday, we rented a car (manual) and left the Edinburgh train station for our drive north to our airbnb place near Loch Ness. Well, Ryder drove because I don’t know how to drive a manual, and spent the first 10 minutes thinking, “F*ck, f*ck, f*ck, left side, left side, left side.” It didn’t help that there was a ton of construction in Edinburgh and the roads were full of zooming taxis, brave pedestrians, and lots of big busses. Thank goodness we made it out, after getting lost twice, and made our way to Stirling Castle. The drive was nice and relaxing across the Scottish country side. We stopped at an information booth to buy a map just in case Ryder’s phone died on us. They gave us a map of Stirling and told us about the park and ride system to the castle. We used this system when we got there, taking a nice bus all the way up to the front gates of the castle!

We did a guided tour of the castle which we thought was really good and highly entertaining. Stirling Castle was hotly contested over the years between the Scottish and the British. It was here that Mary Queen of Scots gave birth to the would be king, James I. Our tour guide was great and after viewing the Great Hall and Tapestry room, we headed back down the hill into town to buy a car charger for Ryder’s phone. We caught the bus back to the car and drove up to Loch Ness and our place for the night. We took some photos of the famous loch and I, of course, looked for the Loch Ness Monster.

Today we got back in the car and started our drive up further north to our new place near the Isle of Skye. The drive was really spectacular, taking us through the Highlands of Scotland. We stopped near a loch and took a short hike up for better views. It rained for the majority of our ride, which added to the haunting beauty of the Highlands. We stopped at the Loch Carron Hotel for a really great dinner and headed out for our airbnb. We drove one hour along a one lane road, winding down valleys and along the beautiful coastline. I spent most of the ride white knuckled around blind turns, but Ryder got us here safe and sound. We are staying in a small, very small town called Arrina in the middle of absolute nowhere in the Scottish Highlands! The place is nice and cozy and we are ready to settle in for the night.



  1. Kelly (Ryders' Mom) /

    Loved this post! LAUGHED and LAUGHED! The food ewe!
    The driving manual (on LEFT, LEFT, LEFT) I can relate as had the same fear in Jamacia with Ryder’s dad driving! Cool watch alert too! I love all the photos with the blogs. You guys are doing a fantastic job of keeping us ALL updated and feeling as if we are traveling with you. Love you!

  2. “We are pretty sure we had the sheep’s stomach simmered version.” – This made me laugh. Amanda I noticed you kept some distance from the swan haha. Did they nip? Ryder – Epic cannon.

    You guys are epic.

  3. Elspeth /

    You say Stirling Castle was fought over by the Scottish and the British? The Scots ARE British … It was the English they were fighting with – still are to some extent!

    Sorry to hear you’re having so much rain …

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *