I am so sad, it is my last day in Scotland. I said goodbye to my friends before setting off on the long road south to Carlisle, where I had chosen to break the journey back home.
First, I visited one last Aberdeenshire castle – the bright pink Craigevar. The inside was closed, but from the outside it was probably the prettiest castle yet.
My road then took me back to the Cairngorm Mountains. At first it went through green meadows, with the snow-topped mountains flitting in and out of view in the distance. I stopped briefly at the pretty little town of Ballater, on the River Dee…..
……before making a longer stop at Balmoral, the summer residence of the Queen of England. I didn’t have time to visit, and for security reasons the castle is located so that it cannot be seen from the road – so no photos I am afraid. Instead, I enjoyed Balmoral coffee, Balmoral chocolate and haggis flavoured crisps in the coffee shop at the entrance to the estate.
From Balmoral I drove past the village of Braemar and its castle…….
……before the road climbed into the Cairngorm Mountains. These mountains are different to the ones in the west – greener, rounder, and somehow bulkier and even more imposing. The last snow was melting on their summits – you can ski here in winter. I stopped several times to photograph the beautiful, rolling scenery.
From the Cairngorms the road descended through lush pastures with beautiful shades of green and red. I stopped to take a photo and a herd of cows gathered together to have their group portrait taken by me.
I soon arrived in the city of Perth. I made yet another stop at Scone Palace, the place where the kings of Scotland were crowned.
The inside of the palace was closed, but in any case I didn’t have time for a visit. Strolling around the grounds, I found the replica of the Stone of Scone, used in the ancient coronations – the original was removed to Westminster Abbey by King Edward I of England in 1186.
The Stone sits atop a raised mound of earth – legend has it that the lairds invited to pay homage to the new king would bring soil from their native territories with them in the boots, and empty this soil onto the site to show allegiance. Over the centuries this created the mound you can see today.
The grounds of Scone Palace were also very pretty, with several marked trails to explore…………..
……..and new friends to meet.
On regaining my car, I turned around for one last look at Scone, the last stop on my tour of Scotland. Ahead of me lay the long road to Carlisle, and then the even longer drive back to London.
That’s all for this trip. Over 12 days I had seen some of the world’s best scenery, met puffins, deer and dolphins, visited many very different castles, caught up with old friends……and done lots and lots of driving. I will definitely be back – twice, in fact. Once to see the big cities of Edinburgh and Glasgow (more easily reached by train than driving) and once to stay in a cottage in one place for a whole week. I’d like to get to know one area really well, do some serious walking and maybe some paddle boarding. Out of all the great places to choose from in Scotland, this trip has helped me choose the very best place to spend a whole week – but it will remain my secret until I return. I don’t want it to become too popular!
Thanks for reading – keep checking my blog to catch up with my latest adventures!