September 2016: Decades of watching romanticized movies about the noble kilted warrior tribes of Scotland and the plight of its people against the stuffy British to the south definitely inspired me to want to visit and the beautiful Loches and sparsely populated highlands and abundant castles were just icing on the cake. To experience Scotland to its fullest, my wife and I rented a car in Northern Ireland and traveled to Scotland via a car ferry and from there we headed north into the highlands staying in old castles and camping outside of abandoned ones. To experience Scotland as best as we could in 5 days, we also drank locally distilled whisky, ate haggis, drove into small one laned roads into the middle of nowhere and we finished our trip in one of my favorite cities in Europe, Edenborough.

 

 

Our route

This was out itinerary while we were in Scotland:

Day 1
Car Ferry from Belfast to Cairnryan, visit Hermitage castle
Cairnyran to Lochness and camp next to Lochness (3.5 hours)).

Day 2
Sleep next to Aardvark Castle 3.5 hours in the highlands.

Day 3
Visit Keiss castle 2.4 hours and sleep in Ackergill Castle in Wick.

Day 4
Drive to Edinbourough
Night in Edinburgh
Ghost tour(Marys Cross)

Day 5
Depart EDI@1140am 

 

 

 

Hermitage Castle

The Hermitage Castle built along the border of Scotland and England was constructed in 1240 and is easily one of the most impressive and eerie castles I have ever visited. It is protected so not abandoned but only by a local caretaker who lives in a nearby village. The castle’s tall imposing stone walls rise dramatically above the surrounding grassy fields. Its location is isolated, and I imagine it would be easy to sneak up to the castle at night, an activity that the caretaker told me happens often with local teenagers who come because of the castles reputation for being haunted. The caretaker told me that its reputation is well deserved because many people including himself have seen dark apparitions in the castle and it is no wonder given the castles bloody past, reputation of rulers engaging in witchcraft, torture and sinister executions.

Hermitage Castle

Paula standing in front of Hermitage Castle

Paula standing in front of Hermitage Castle

Sheep at Hermitage Castle

Inside the ruined Hermitage Castle

From hermitage castle, we drove north for hours arriving very sleepy eyed at a campground on the shores of Lochness. Lochness was beautiful but I wasn’t impressed with the overly commercialized tourist business that seemed to be everywhere surrounding the legendary Lochness nellie dinosaur. So once morning came, we set off to the north to go deeper into the highlands and further away from the throngs of tourists that came only to get trinkets of dinosaurs and selfies at Lochness. We drove out into the highlands of northern Scotland along one lane roads where you have to pull over or reverse into small passing extensions on the road to let cars pass from opposing traffic. We hiked into the mountains, visited small medieval villages, and camped next to a ruined 1000-year-old castle-Aardvark Castle, which like all castles in Scotland is rife with tales of terror, treachery and betrayal.

Highlands

Paula on a hike in the highlands in the rain

Highland Cow

Camping at Aardvark Castle

Aardvark Castle

Aardvark Castle

Aardvark Castle

Aardvark Castle

Aardvark Castle

Old abandoned house near Aardvark Castle

Aardvark Castle

Aardvark Castle

WWII Bunker

Paula looking at keiss Castle

Hike to keiss castle

 Ackergill Castle

 View from Ackergill Castle-castle Ruins in Distance on Sea Cliffs

 Ackergill Castle

Paula in Ackergill Castle

 Ackergill Castle

Paula in Ackergill Castle

Paula in Ackergill Castle where we stayed one night in the tower

Edinbourough

Edinbourough

Edinbourough

After visiting Edinburgh, Paula and I flew back home via British Airways to San Diego, and we are already planning a return visit to Scotland someday.

 

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