Travel guide| A weekend getaway to Scotland: Glasgow and GlenCoe

Scotland: a place high on my travel bucket list. With its beautiful highlands, vast empty spaces and big lochs, Scotland is a place which I really wanted to visit! It was, therefore, a big surprise when Ries took me to this place as a birthday gift a few weeks ago. In this blog, you will read everything about this trip and I will tell you where we slept, ate and what we did.


An envelope

It is Friday morning. Jan, a friend who slept over, has just left and I am working from home. Ries is also working from home. He acts a bit mysterious and when I ask what is going on, he hands me an envelope. It’s a gift already for my birthday (I will turn 27 next Monday). When I open it I get a note and I almost can not believe what’s written on it … we will fly to Scotland tonight !!

Totally swept off my feet, I quickly pack a bag and leave for the airport a few hours later. After a short flight (it’s only an hour flight to Glasgow from Amsterdam) we land safely in Glasgow. The weather forecasts for the coming days are bad, lots of rain, typically Scottish weather, but we are lucky: it just stopped raining.Glasgow University

Glasgow

Ries has arranged a car and we pick it up quickly and then head for Glasgow. It takes some time getting used to the ‘wrong side’ of the road and the car is also a manual. But soon it feels familiar and we drive into Glasgow. From what we see it is a beautiful city full of old buildings. We drive to Kelvingrove Park where we park the car and then walk to the University of Glasgow. This looks impressive from afar but is even more beautiful inside. We walk through the Cloisters, beautiful architectural arches reminiscent of a small cathedral. We apparently look like students because when we enter the building that is officially closed to the public, we are not stopped. Inside, the building looks exactly like universities in movies. Dark deep pile carpet, wide stairs with walls covered with dark blue and gold wallpaper and huge chandeliers. We wander around a bit and look at all the impressive beauty, we wish we had studied here!

Back towards the city, we walk past the Kelvin Grove Art Gallery and Museum, a large imposing building in the style of Spanish Baroque. It is already closed but through the windows, we just catch a glimpse of a large place full of artworks. The museum is free and seems to be beautiful so this is a place we will definitely go back to.

We start to get hungry and walk towards Argyle Street, where there are many nice restaurants. At Rioja Finnieston we eat tapas and at the bar across the street, The Ben Nevis, we drink some whisky, after all, we are in Scotland.Glasgow University

Deer and our lodge

We do not sleep in Glasgow tonight, Ries is still a little mysterious about it, but since I have to navigate I know we are heading to a tiny village named Rosneath. It is pitch dark and the road is completely deserted. We drive along a big dark loch. Suddenly, Ries stops in the middle of the road. When I look surprised at him, he points to the road ahead. And what I see there is beautiful. A large graceful deer stands in the middle of the road. It looks at us and then walks elegantly to the other side of the road, after which it disappears into the thicket. Wow, is this real? The moment passes by quickly but felt like something from a fairytale.

Somewhat overwhelmed by the dee we arrive at our accommodation. Roger, the owner welcomes us and shows us the way. In front of us is a cute wooden house surrounded by dark woods. When we enter it is nicely warm and very cosy. It is a real lodge, completely made out of wood. There is a flower bouquet, a bottle of wine and chocolate to congratulate me on my birthday. With a glass of wine and the chocolates, we warm up by the heater and end this way our first evening in Scotland.Trip to Schotland

Glen Coe

We wake up rested the next morning. The fresh air and the cosy bed has ensured that we slept well. After a warm cup of tea, we step into the car. Because we are only in Scotland for a short while, we want to make the most of our time. And so after a short stop for sandwiches we drive towards the city GlenCoe in the Scottish Highlands. Glen Coe is a volcanic valley in the Lochbar Geopark. It seems to be a beautiful place, just like the road to it: we drive straight through the Loch Lomond and Trossachs Nationaal Park. We stop regularly to enjoy the great view and take pictures. This is also the case when we drive past Loch Long. The mist just pulls up and the sun begins to shine. We see the mountains on the other side of the loch reflected in the water. The mountains are already covered in snow.

We drive along a spur of Loch Lomond, after which the landscape slowly begins to change. It is becoming rougher with higher mountains on both sides of the road. When we stop to get out, it’s cold and windy, but surprisingly there’s still no rain! And luckily it doesn’t rain the whole day and sometimes even the sun comes through the clouds.Glen Coe Scotland

Devil’s Staircase

When we drive through the Glen Coe valley, we see a couple of hikers walking into the mountains. Hmm… it’s a great day for a hike! After a short stop at the visitor centre where we are informed about some nice hikes in the neighbourhood, we decide to walk the Devil’s Staircase. This hike is part of the West Highland Way and is apparently quite a tough hike. Except for walking shoes, we are not really dressed appropriately, but oh well, we’ll see. We clamber up over small streams, via a steep path full of loose stones. This route is called the Devil’s Staircase because the soldiers who built this road found it a tough way to lift their material. They found the road even more difficult after a drink or two when they got their wages and then had to travel this way back to their hotel.

It is pretty cold, not even 4 degrees, but because of the effort I quickly heat up and I take off my coat, scarf and gloves. We climb further and when we reach the top of the first mountain, we arrive at the snow line. The path goes further down, but we do not really feel like it. Another option is to climb towards the Stob Mhic Mhartuin. This is an even higher mountain covered with heaps of snow and ice, slowly melting through the sun. A path is no longer visible and so we climb up just on gut feeling. Suddenly out of nowhere, fog appears. A bit creepy, but Ries is only getting more and more enthusiastic: he must rise above the big cloud we are in. And so we climb further and eventually reach the top. Then suddenly the fog starts to dissolve and we have a great view of the valley and the mountains behind it. Only now do we see how high we are and how beautiful the view is. In the distance, we see several lakes and lochs, surrounded by forests and white-snowed mountains. On the top, we meet some other hikers, with whom we chat a bit. Glen Coe Devil's staircase

When we get hungry, we start heading down. An hour later we are back in the car. From the lady at the visitor centre we got the tip to eat something at the Boots Bar, a real hiker’s restaurant and so we do. We warm up by the fire, with hot chocolate and vegetarian Haggis a really nice lunch!

After lunch, we take a walk along the Glen Coe Lochan, after which we start on our way back home. It gets dark early in Scotland and at 15.30 the twilight begins to fall. After a short stop at Glen Coe Mountain Resort, a place where you can ski in Glen Coe, we drive on. In the village of Arrochar, we stop at The Village Inn to eat something small. Back at the lodge we take a hot shower and end the day with a glass of red wine.

Outlander

Our last day in Scotland has arrived, at the end of this afternoon, we will fly back to Amsterdam. Today we will visit a few film locations of the Outlander series. I am a huge fan of this series (yes I admit it, I am quite a nerd ;-)) that takes place in Scotland and is largely shot here as well. You can visit many of the film locations. Because we don’t have much time left, we decide to visit two locations in the south of Scotland.

The first location is the beautiful Doune Castle, near the city of Stirling. When we arrive we recognize the outside immediately. In Outlander this is Castle Leoch. We enter the castle and hear a lot about the history of the castle and the recordings for Outlander through the audio tour. Crazy to realize that not only for centuries people have lived in the draughty rooms, but also that hundreds of crewmembers have been walking around here in recent years. It is a lot smaller in real life.Doune Castle

After half an hour it starts to get a lot busier and we get back in the car. From here it’s still over an hour’s drive to Edinburgh and the second location: Midhope Castle, or as in Outlander: Lallybroch. We first buy an admission ticket at the Hopetown Farmshop and then we drive to the castle. The last part to the castle we walk and as soon as we see the building in the distance I get really excited (again: yes I am a huge nerd). Everything seems exactly the same as in the series, except for the electricity cables and the tractor in the field behind it. We are the only ones when we walk around the beautiful building and imagine how the recordings were made.

This last location is really the icing on the cake for me! What a great weekend this has been. Scotland is beautiful and this trip was very special! For sure, see you very soon again Scotland!Lallybroch


This is where we slept in Scotland

Wooden lodge in Rosneath

At 45 minutes from Glasgow, in the middle of nature right on the water of Gare Loch is the cute lodge where we stayed. The inside is made entirely of wood with a cosy kitchen, a cute bedroom and a small bathroom. Behind the lodge is nothing but forest and nature and at night deer sometimes come to the house. Idyllic right?

Do you want to stay here as well? We booked this lodge via Airbnb.

Lodge Rosneath Scotland


Here we ate/drank in Scotland

Rioja FinniestonGlasgow: Spanish Tapas but then slightly different. I loved the green peppers, Ries was a fan of the hamburger!

The Ben Nevis Glasgow: Typical Scottish bar full of fun and with a huge variety of Whiskeys.

The Boots Bar – Glen Coe: Haggis, hot chocolate and live music. This is real hikerspub, super cosy and nice and warm with the different fireplaces. They serve hearty meals, perfect for after a hike. The restaurant belongs to the Clachaig Inn.

The Village Inn – Arrochar: This cosy hotel has a restaurant where we ate something small.Glencoe


We visited the following places:

Glasgow: the University of Glasgow and Kelvin Grove Art Gallery and Museum. The University you should explore and especially the Cloisters are beautiful to see. Kelvin Grove Art Gallery is a great building. Access to both the university and the museum is free.

Glen Coe: The Glen Coe Valley is a valley created by volcanic eruptions and glacier shifts. It is a beautiful place: the jagged mountains with white tops and in between the green valley are really splendid. Nice places to stop are The Meeting of the Three Waters, Glen Coe Valley View Point and Glen Coe Photography House. Want to make a nice hike? The Devil’s Staircase is a challenging hike in the Glen Coe valley. There are also many more hikes to be found, for more information pay a visit to the Glen Coe Visitor Center. Also nice to visit is Glen Coe Lochan, a small lake that you can walk around.

Loch Long: Arrochar is a small village, right on the banks of Loch Long. From here you have a great view over the lake.Arrochar

Outlander fans:

The Outlander series is largely filmed in Scotland. We travelled through the south of Scotland and visited the following Outlander locations.

1. University of Glasgow Cloisters: Harvard
This should be Harvard in Outlander. In season three you see Bree going through the arches to her lessons. In any case, this location is a must visit, it is so beautiful and impressive that we immediately wanted to go back to study. Free access. Click here for more information.

2. Glen Coe
The starting scene of Outlander is shot in the Glen Coe valley.

3. Doune Castle: Castle Leoch
This beautiful 14th-century castle should represent Castle Leoch of the Mckenzie Clan. You can visit the castle inside and through an audio tour, you will be told everything about the history of the castle. Access: £ 6.00. Click here for more information.

4. Midhope Castle: Lallybroch
You immediately recognize this place when you arrive: Lallybroch, the home of James Fraser. Through a long driveway, you walk to this impressive building that is abandoned. Lallybroch is not inhabited but is on private property. To be allowed to park here by car, you will have to buy an admission ticket at the Hopetown farm shop for £ 10.00. Before you visit this place, check the website. This location is often closed.


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Weekend to Scotland: Glencoe and Glasgow   Outlander: Lallybroch

 

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