Scotland – June 2019 including Mountains # 2 and #3 of my 2019 Challenge

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Scotland! Finally back. I first came here in May 2007 and knew I would come back one day. I was once again charmed by its landscapes and its inhabitants. Regardless of the places visited or the activities carried out, I met warmed and generous people of their culture & knowledge. I was there for 15 days and stayed in 5 different places (B & B, Self Catering, Castle).  I am sharing here with you the highlights of my trip through pictures.  

Fort William (June 9-13)   

Breakfast at Torlinnhe Guest House with incredible views —  What a way to start the first day of this fantastic adventure.

  • Glenfinnan Monuments & Viaduct  —  A few minutes walk from the monument is a path that leads to a viaduct – Glenfinnan viaduct – known for its appearance in Harry Potter. I share a little later a video taken during my trip by train.  

Recommendation: arrive early because it is a very popular place and parking fills really fast.  Once at the viaduct, a trail goes to Glenfinnan Station. A hike of about 1h30 which offers  remarkable point of views on Loch Shiel and its surroundings.

Steall Waterfalls  

If you go to Fort William, besides the Ben Nevis climb for the adventurers, I highly recommend the hike to the Steall Waterfalls. I loved this well maintained and easy-to-access trail. The trail takes about 2 hours. When you reach the end of the road, it leads to the view of the falls in the distance. Spectacular effect that unfortunately my pictures do not do justice. Bring a picnic or take the time to take a break to admire the landscape.

Jacobite train – Fort William to Malaig (round trip)

Let yourself be rocked by the sound of the train and admire the landscapes. 

Malaig is a beautiful port village. I had my first fish’n chips of my trip.  A pure delight.  On the way back, the 1st class wagon was at the tail of the trail, allowing me to take the video of the train passing on the Glenfinnan viaduct.

video taken in Malaig
Jacobite train passing on the Glenfinnan Viaduct

Eilean Donan Castle

It was a visit I did not want to miss and I was not disappointed. The castle is beautiful and what to say about the landscapes surrounding it.

Ben Nevis -2nd mountain of my 2019 Challenge

1345 meters – done in 7: 10 hrs. Ascent 4h05 & descent 3h05. I had never climbed this altitude before. My best decision was to hire a guide. A big thank you to Jonti Mills (http://www.onhighhills.com) for the company. I did not know what to expect but was confident with my abilities to achieve this challenge. I found the climb fairly easy, slowly but surely, and didn’t realize the time it took. The descent on the other hand, with the accumulated fatigue and the path covered with rocks, was a real torture for me. I still have a lot of work to do to improve my fitness but I am so proud of myself !!

Isle of Skye (June 13-16)

Portree is a very popular little village. There are several restaurants for dinner although, it is strongly recommended to make a reservation otherwise you will find yourself, like me,  eating a Fish’n Chips sitting on a bench near the water with a bird as a companion.  I guess he was more interested in my chips than my company. To tell the truth, I preferred this picnic impromptu than having dinner alone in the cacophony of a dining room crowded with people.    

Dunvegan Castle — Another magnificent castle with a very well landscaped wooded path. Possibility of a small boat trip to see a colony of more than 300 seals that live there year-round.  

Coral Beach — The path to the beach is a short drive from Dunvegan Castle. A small detour not to be missed. An easy hike of about 1 hour along Loch Dunvegan.   

  Fairy Glen — The place can be reached on foot by parking the car further along the road and thus enjoy the scenery that nature offered. I went directly to the site and was fortunate to find a small place to park on the side of the road. The Fairy Glen is a magical place. The imagination easily flow there. Mine anyway. Although there is no precise legend for this place, its name comes from all these little green hills that creates a magical atmosphere.    

Quiraing — Ah this is a path to discover. Although, it is very popular and parking was already full when I arrived a little before noon. I continued on the road and found a place to park my car by the side of the road. I learned a little later that the work underway is actually to enlarge the parking and built a restaurant to accommodate the hikers.  

Fairy Pools — Easy trail for the whole family. The trail follows the watercourse that changes shape according to the elevation of the land. Very Zen hike, even in the rain. Again a very coveted place but with a very large parking (fee).

Golspie (June 16-19) – One of the most beautiful beaches in Scotland and a charming little village.

– Dunrobin Castle. — One of the most beautiful I have visited. Not to be missed, 2 performances a day, the falconer offers a show with different species. Very impressive to see these birds fly just above our heads.

Big Burn Trail.

I was there in June so at the end of the wild garlic season. The soil was covered over most of the path. Imagine the smell. I loved it ! I am lucky to have some plants on a part of my property but I had never seen so many. The hike is about 1 hour through the woods and to a fall and a small pond a little further.

Whaligoe Steps (Whaligoe Steps)  –  

Unusual place with very little indication to get there given that there is not much parking. Parts of the steps were under repair. Some more adventurous than me went down t. The staircase counts 365 steps and was built in 1786 to join a natural harbor. According to the story, it was women, some in their 70s, who carried fish baskets up and down.

Sinclair Castle – built in the middle of the 17th century. The castle, now in ruins, had been built on the side of the coast. It must have been very impressive in stormy weather. We almost expect to see a pirate ship on the horizon.

Dornoch Beach – a beach as far as the eye can see. A paradise for dogs. Walking in an open place like this gives a sense of freedom. I lost the notion of time and I savored this peaceful moment. 

Inverness  –  I really liked Inverness. I walked from downtown to the botanical garden (about 30 minutes) along the Ness River and back by the path that goes from one small island to another.

Aboyne (June 19-22)

Aberdeenshire area and along the Dee River. Superb region and village with its park as central point. If I have the opportunity to return to Scotland, it would be a region I would like to discover more. 

Balmoral Castle – The summer castle of the Royal family. Honestly, nothing special. Unfortunately yes. You can walk in the park but only the ballroom with some royal objects that are exposed is accessible to visitors. That’s all ! It’s not worth the price.  

Braemar Castle – Built in 1628 – a beautiful little castle worth the trip followed by a walk in the nearby village. It needs a lot of renovation but it does not detract from its charm.   

Ben Macdui – 3rd mountain of my 2019 Challenge 

1309 meters (3503 ‘) and completed in 6h30. This time with Matt Glen – Thank you Matt !! The trail for Ben Macdui is a little longer than the one for Ben Nevis, but much easier. It rises is plateaux versus Ben Nevis which was a continual slope. Another great achievement !!

Gourock (1 night – June 22-23) 

Battery Park —  A last picnic for my dinner in a park not far from my last B & B.  A beautiful afternoon with extraordinary views.

Castle Levan – B & B  

I spoiled myself for my last night in Scotland. I always dreamed of spending a night in a castle but it can be expensive. This small castle – set as a B&B – is full of charm and quite enchanting. The hospitality and attention to details by the hosts made it a memorable experience. I loved it !!

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