Scotland trip

Trip Start Sep 09, 2003
Trip End Sep 13, 2003

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Wednesday, May 16, 2007

In 2003 we decided spontaneously to take a quick trip to Scotland - 5 days only.  We flew into Aberdeen and picked up our rental car.  We paid for the extra insurance which would cover all damage we could possibly cause driving on the "other" side of the road.  We felt good, we had arrived and were ready to start our vacation and eventually we did leave the parking lot daring to attempt driving on the road.

We arrived at the Roselynd house where we had reserved our room.  The house was nice, very Victorian.  I felt like I was at grandma's.  Breakfast was amazing and our host couldn't have been friendlier.  We were surprised with the look of the houses in Aberdeen. It seems as if every house is built of the same granite rock.  As far as you can see every house seems to look the same.  I'm sure Aberdeen residents would not agree :)

We took possession of our room and went straight for a walk through Aberdeen, where we found nice gardens and friendly pubs inviting us to come in on this particularly cold day.  So we did.  We found a woman that had already spent a few hours too much in the bar and insisted on inviting us for shots. The bartender was giving us signs and was shaking his head and while she did order an occasional shot he only gave her a teeny tiny bit and the rest was filled up with water.  She was fun and we had a great time talking to her.  She asked whether we knew that friend of hers that lives in Germany.  Sure did, it's a small place you know. 

The owner told us stories about his pub, Aberdeen and the surrounding area.  When the time came to say good bye and head back to Roselynds' he wouldn't let us leave without a beautiful Scotland calendar to spread the word about his bar.  It was our first day in Aberdeen and we felt most welcome.

2 out of the 5 days of our stay were spent exploring castles. And that was time spent well.  We chose to follow the castle trail and the drive was just as beautiful as the castles themselves.  Here's what we've seen:

Dunnator Castle:
This castle is very close to our hotel location and near the town of Stonehaven which we fell in love with. The castle itself is in ruins, but the location is quite impressive.  It is surrounded by steep cliffs on three sides with waves crashing in hard on the rock.  We hiked down to the beach near the entry area just to get another perspective of Dunnator.  It's beautiful.  At one time the castle held the royal crown jewels.  You would think at this location they would be save, but the castle was attacked and taken more than once. 

Braemar Castle:
( castle.htm    - sorry I'm unable to add the link to this section)

There is such a sad lovestory to this castle:  The ghost who haunts Braemar Castle is one of a woman who lost her life after a very sad misunderstanding.  Two hundred years ago a young couple went to Braemar Castle for their wedding night.  The wedding night was their first experience.  The groom left the bedroom early in in the morning, without leaving a message for his wife.  When she woke up, the young woman was worried not seeing her husband.  She looked for him in the whole castle but couldn't find him. Desperate, she thought the wedding night had been disappointing for the young man and that he left her. Ashamed and very sad, she threw herself out of the window of the bedroom.  The poor girl was wrong. Her husband hadn't left her, he had gone hunting when she was asleep, and when he came back, he was welcomed by the horrible news.  The women still appears to young couples staying overnight. Maybe it is to tell the groom not to leave his wife, or maybe it is to protect and reassure the bride.

Crathes Castle:
What a gorgeous place, the beautiful gardens of Crathes castle made me feel like I had entered the estate of the sleeping beauty.  But as beautiful as the castle is, there is always a dark side. Two skeletons have been found during renovation work: One of a woman and one of a baby.  The baby is said to be the child of a man who preferred to kill the baby and it's mother to hide the relationship. The apparitions continue, even after the bodies have been discovered. They must be looking for something other than discovery or maybe there is more to be found.

Castle Craigievar:
Of course this castle has a ghost story as well.  The Blue Bedroom is the haunt of one of the Gordon clan members, who fell from a window.  Well not really fell - he has been pushed to his death by "Red" Sir John Forbes, a noble.  Several people heard the steps of the unfortunate Gordon climbing the stairs to the Blue Bedroom, as if he was living the moment before his death again and again.

Castle Stalker:
We drove what seemed and probably was hours through the Scottish highlands to see this castle at Loch Linnhe. I love the picturesque location of this castle. The castle was built about 1446 and guess what I have no ghost stories to tell. Only one quirky fact maybe: In 1840 the roof either fell in or was perhaps removed to avoid roof-tax and the castle was abandoned. Inevitably you'll have to stop for lunch some time.  Give "Haggis" a try, but don't google what's in it or you'll ruin your appetite...

Glen Coe,
This beautiful mountain scape has also been witness to a horrible event.  The massacre of Glencoe.  The infamy of the massacre is not so much in the numbers killed, but in the way it was carried out.  In 1691 King William the Third ordered all the clan chiefs to sign an oath of allegiance by 1st January 1692.  Maclain of Glencoe delayed signing the oath and when he arrived in Fort William on 31st December 1691, he found he had to go to a different location. Difficult travelling and the absence of a sheriff meant that Maclain did not sign the oath until 6th January 1692.  Maclain returned to Glencoe believing his signature was accepted. It was however decided to punish Maclain. Campbell of Glenlyon led a group of some 128 soldiers who stayed with the MacDonalds for some 12 daysand then turned on their hosts in the early morning of 13th February, killing 38 of them whilst some tried to escape into the snowy hills.  The infamy of the massacre is "murder under trust" murder of those who had offered them hospitality.

Highland games:
We were lucky to be there while the highland games took place.  We enjoyed watching dancing, sporting and back pipe competitions. I would definitely suggest going if you are in Scotland during Highland games.

The "Malt & Whisky Trail":
Of course we had to follow this trail as well, but we couldn't find the distillery we wanted to see: Glenfiddich.  So we kept on searching for another distillery close by: Aberlour.  Unfortunately by the time we arrived, they were just about closing.  But friendly as the Scottish people are we still got to take a quick tour, get a taste of the Aberlour Whisky which is no longer produced and keep our shot glasses. [My favorite location during this whole trip would have to be the beautiful pack horse bridge to which a tiny sign alerted us on our drive into Aberlour (South end of the village. Located next to the cemetery). I'm glad we stopped as I love to look at the pictures we took that day.  There are two little stone bridges that cross over the "Burn of Aberlour", which flows into the river Spey. This pack horse bridge is still standing today only because it was rebuilt for the price of 5 by Robert Duff in 1729.  It felt like we were the first people to have found this spot and this picture to me truly represents what I was looking for in Scotland. Oh I promise I'll be back!

We loved this little town by the ocean.  It's very picturesque and intimate. I can't say that there's anything specific to see, I just loved to stroll through the streets while listening to the waves crashing in.

On our last day we took a straight an easy drive on the coastal trail to Balmedie. We took one last look at the ocean, thought of the hospitality, quietness and peace and abundant natural beauty we experienced during our 5 day vacation. 

Too short, yes definetely too short...
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Laurie on

Great reading, I have been away from Scotland travelling for almost a year and this makes me homesick.

aberdeen airport parking on

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Chris Fryer

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