Back in October my boyfriend and I spent the weekend in France. I only took the Friday off work but it felt like a really good break. We stayed in a lovely Airbnb in Toulouse – with a comically low bathroom ceiling (especially as we’re both quite tall) but a wonderfully comfy bed.
It was a weekend that centred around our stomachs and we ate our way through the city over the next couple of days. This included visits to the markets full of all kinds of delights – and a few horrors!
We also took the train to Albi for a day which was a stunning town, another market to explore, a delicious lunch including snails and a trip to the Musée Toulouse-Lautrec. We were much luckier with the weather in Albi so there were many more photo opportunities!
My highlight of the weekend had to be seeing a starling murmuration over the river in Toulouse. I’ve always wanted to see this natural spectacle but had no expectations that Toulouse would be where I see it!
We’re off to Portugal next so look out for some more photos soon.
After a wonderful breakfast in our castle (that will never get old), we headed to the Scottish Sea Life Sanctuary in Oban. I had hoped to see some otters and seals in the wild, but a trip to the Sea Life Sanctuary guaranteed that we would see some and it was also interesting to learn about the amazing work they do. It also meant that we saw some adorable cubs in the seal hospital, and I’ve just seen on Twitter that one of those cubs has now been released back into the wild.
For our final night we would be back in Fort William, so we decided to drive back the scenic route taking in Kilchurn Castle, which took some finding! It was built in the mid-1400s but was abandoned in the 1700s.
The next part of our scenic tour back to Fort William took in the stunning Glen Coe, which I have to admit did overwhelm me in its beauty and scale.
Glen Coe certainly felt like the climax of our trip, and it felt quite humbling standing in the middle and taking it all in.
For our last evening, we had a lovely meal in the Garrison West, a friendly pub where the bar staff talked us through some whiskeys! It was a gorgeous sunset for our last night, but unfortunately, I had left my camera at the hotel so I took these on my phone.
On day 4 we left Inverness and headed to the highest mountain in the UK – Ben Nevis. It was yet another stunning drive. We had a bit of disappointment on the way as we looked at getting the Mountain Gondola and having lunch up a mountain however it was closed due to high winds.
We’re not hugely experienced walkers and after reading some blogs and also a rather threatening paragraph in a walking book we decided not to attempt Ben Nevis. I didn’t want to be a statistic!
So after a spot of lunch in Fort William, we drove through Glen Nevis and headed for another walk, Steall Falls and the Nevis Gorge. Although the sign at the start didn’t do much to help my confidence, especially as I had recently gone flying on the Old Man of Storr, “Fatal accidents DO occur by falling from this path”.
But we set off, and it was well worth it. Although crossing waterfalls on wet rocks with just a massive drop on one side did get my heart racing!
It was so cloudy and overcast we didn’t ever see the top of Ben Nevis, but we knew it was there – looming above us!
After getting back to the car we headed towards Oban, and to our big treat. We stayed in Premier Inns for the whole holiday, apart from one night where a castle waited for us. We stayed in Barcaldine Castle, also known as The Black Castle. A B&B with a difference! I couldn’t recommend staying here enough, the staff were amazing, the room was gorgeous, the views were perfection and breakfast was delicious.
Once we’d got over the excitement of staying in a castle, we headed to Oban for a seafood dinner. What a day!
After exploring Fort George, we headed to the Cairngorms, a stunning part of the country and one of my favourite walks of the holiday. We were aiming for a walking spot near Braemar, but as with all our travels so far, the car journey was just as spectacular as the destination.
We parked in the Linn of Dee carpark and set off for a walk through the woods running alongside stunning waterfalls. This area was one of Queen Victoria’s favourite parts of Scotland, and as a bit of a fan of this wonderful monarch, I was excited to explore. In fact, the gothic bridge which you cross to reach the carpark was officially opened by the Queen in 1857!
On day 4 we left Inverness and headed to Glen Nevis and Oban – look out for the next post, coming soon!
On the morning of day 3, after a full Scottish breakfast, we visited Fort George. Fort George is one of the most impressive fortresses in Europe, it was built after the Battle of Culloden in 1746 and is still an active military base.
But I had another reason for visiting, my Grandad had been based there in the 1950’s when he was doing National Service in the Royal Army Medical Corps and I wanted to retrace his footsteps. He was very lucky to be sent to Fort George, in my opinion, as other places that the Royal Army Medical Corps were sent during this time included Korea.
It was quite surreal arriving at Fort George and walking around, imaging my Grandad there as a young man 60 years ago. I took some photos of him and his mates and tried to find where those photos may have been taken.
Day 3 (part 2) coming soon, where we visit the Cairngorms and spot a red squirrel!
On day 2 we decided to drive to Skye which was a long round trip but the roads were so stunning the journey became one of our highlights. Here are some snaps from the car window!
On our way to Skye, we stopped off at Eilean Donan Castle – a stunning 13th Century castle on an island at the point where three lochs meet, with our first glimpse of Skye in the distance.
In the time it took us to eat some shortbread and have a coffee the weather had completely changed, so I headed out with my camera to capture the castle in a different light.
Then it was off to Skye, and our destination was The Old Man of Storr. The walk up to the Old Man starts off as a gently sloping path but soon turns into a bit of a climb up some large rocks and boulders. I have to admit it was trickier than I had expected and in true Lily-style I managed to fall over in a big pile of mud while also hitting my arm on a rock. But we carried on and were treated to some amazing views on the way. You could climb even higher but we settled to stop at the foot of the Old Man and it was one of the highlights of our trip.
While up near the Old Man I also took some macro shots of some moss!
The next post is coming soon with photos from day 3, when we visited the Cairngorms, Fort George and even spotted a red squirrel.