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Kirriemuir, Scotland

And a quick search for Nessie at Loch Ness

We traveled from London to Edinburgh by train and then we rented a car and headed north to a pet sit in Kirriemuir.  Unfortunately, we had some issues with our booked car rental.  It turns out the company we booked through requires proof that you have a had a valid driver’s license for at least 3 years.  Mike renewed his license in 2023 in preparation for the doomed cruise and Alberta just updates your Issued date to the renewal date.  So, long story short, they wouldn’t let us take the car.  Luckily, there were several other rental services in the same location, and we were able to pick up a different car and head on our way. 


The drive to Kirriemuir went smoothly despite Mike having to drive a manual transmission on the left side of the road.  Thankfully, he had a bit of experience when we were in New Zealand last winter.  The company that installed our solar array gave us their loaner car for a few days and it was a manual as well.  The scenery was beautiful we got to experience typical rainy Scottish weather on the drive.


Following a two hour drive we pulled into the small town of Kirriemuir where we had the pleasure of looking after a handsome Norwegian Forest Cat named Magnus.  During our stay we made use of the car and explored the area.


Our first stop was, of course, a castle.  We drove out to Doune Castle which was used as a set in Monty Python and the Holy Grail as well as Outlander (the TV Series).  Admission included an audio guide that was narrated by Terry Jones from Monty Python.  We don’t usually bother with audio tours because they often cost extra, but it was really interesting to learn more about the castle and hear some of the stories from filming. The castle is still fairly intact and you were able to explore it extensively.  I can honestly say that I wouldn’t have survived the narrow, steep, slippery spiral stone staircases of the time. 


After Doune Castle we circled back through Stirling where we saw the National Wallace Monument.  It is a 220-foot-tall stone tower with incredible intricate detail built to commemorate the life of Sir William Wallace.  If you didn’t know, Braveheart was based on a true story.  The film itself is said to be historically inaccurate, but William Wallace was a real person and one of the main leaders during the First War of Scottish Independence.  We opted not to pay to climb up the tower, but you can if you like.  The views from the hill the monument sits on were pretty amazing even without going up the tower.


Our final stop on our first full day exploring was the Falkirk Wheel in, you guessed it, Falkirk.  The Falkirk Wheel is the world’s only rotating boat lift.  Unfortunately, the were working on it when we stopped by, so the lower basin was drained and the wheel was not in use, but it was still amazing to see.  It was designed to link the Forth and Clyde Canal to the Union Canal 35 meters above.  There used to be several stepped locks between the two canals, but they were dismantled years ago and the Falkirk Wheel reconnected the two canals for the first time since the 1930s.  I highly recommend checking out some of the videos on YouTube to see the wheel in motion.


Our second full day in Scotland was very rainy, so we had a quiet day at home with the cat.  Our next big adventure day led us to Broughty Castle Museum in Dundee.  This castle sits at the mouth of the river Tay and has pretty amazing views.  They’ve turned the levels of the tower into a museum with art, wildlife, and armory exhibits.  It wasn’t as large as Doune, but still neat to see.  Unfortunately, it was miserable that day with high winds and rain, so we cut our trip short and headed home.  On the way we found a Tim Hortons in town…we had no idea they were in the UK.  The prices were a bit high, especially once you added the exchange rate, but it was fun to stop in for a little taste of home.


Next up we drove up to Stonehaven to see Dunnottar Castle, a collection of ruined structures perched on a piece of land jutting out into the North Sea.  It sits atop a 160-foot rock and is surrounded on three sides by the Sea.  It is mostly ruins, but stunning with dramatic sweeping views of the sea.  It was everything you would expect when you think of castle ruins in Scotland.


In between driving around, we also took the time to explore Kirriemuir where we were staying.  It is a small village but known for being the birthplace of Bon Scott lead singer for AC/DC as well as J.M. Barrie the playwright who wrote Peter Pan.  It has many beautiful old buildings and great walking trails around town.


As our time with Magnus came to an end we prepared to head even further north for another pet sit, but on the way, we had some hunting to do.  We drove to the famous Loch Ness to try our hand at finding Nessie.  Unfortunately, it was crazy windy that day and there were white caps on the loch, so not much chance of seeing anything mysterious.  It was still incredible though.  Loch Ness is the second largest Scottish Loch by surface area, but the largest lock by volume in Great Britain.  We drove the length of the Loch (37 kilometers) and saw the ruins of Urquhart Castle overlooking the loch.


On the way through to Loch Ness we stumbled onto the Creag Meagaidh National Nature Reserve just on the outskirts of Cairngorms National Park.  They have tons of hiking trails and if we had more time, we would have loved to spend more time exploring the area.  We had to settle for some quick photos and some hairy friends.  We’d definitely like to spend more time in this area if we get the chance.


We had a couple of days to burn before our next pet sit, so we spent two nights in Inverness.  We really only had one full day to explore, so we spent it just wandering around.  It’s the largest city in the Scottish Highlands and has lots to offer; unfortunately, Inverness Castle was closed for restoration work.  We wandered around town and stopped for fish and chips on the way home.


Inverness basically wrapped up the first half of our stay in Scotland.  We’ve got a 2-week pet sit in Cruden Bay on the east coast and a week in Glasgow planned afterwards, so we’ll see what else we can find to explore.  So far, despite the rainy cool weather, we are really enjoying Scotland.  It is beautiful and you can’t go wrong when there’s so many castles to explore, so much history to experience and so many epic views to take in.

 

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Guest
Mar 29

Gorgeous pics!! And Magnus is a beauty

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