We visited Scotland in July 2011. Our 10-day trip was planned mostly to see the beautiful nature of Scotland, to hike in the green mountains, but also to visit fascinating castles.
We flew to Scotland with Ryanair. The possibility to fly direct from Tallinn to Edinburgh was an impulse for us taking the trip. We took off at 10PM and at 12PM we already were in the beautiful hotel Royal Overseas League on Princess street, Edinburgh. Our room was at the top floor and had an excellent view to the Edinburgh Castle. It was so relaxing to lie down on the bed and enjoy the view to the castle in night lights.
The weather forecast for our trip was quite awful - it was supposed to rain for all ten days. From the day we took off from Tallinn, the forecast started to improve. During the trip it rained only on the first day in Edinburgh and on our last day, when we were droving from St. Andrews to Edinburgh airport. However, the weather was still a bit strange. Usually, when hiking, you are supposed to start early to catch the best weather. During our stay in Scotland, it was almost always cloudy in the morning and if we started the hike at noon, we always had sun and clear skies. On several days, the sky was completely clear by evening.
Edinburgh is a beautiful city, even during the rainy days. We walked the Royal Mile, visited Edinburgh Castle. The castle was very crowded, but still very much worth a visit considering the history and views. On our way to West Highlands we also visited Stirling Castle. If you have just time for one castle, we suggest visiting Edinburgh Castle. If you plan to visit many castles, it is worth buying the Explorer Pass - it helps to save time and, depending on number of castles you visiting, also money. In Edinburgh Castle there is an interesting ceremony at 1PM - at One o’clock Gun - the gun is fired.
Hiking in West Highlands was our main purpose of visit Scotland. We did five proper hikes in Western Highland: Ben Nevis, Cuillin Hills, Glen Torridon, Lost Valley near Glen Coe, Cairncorm. Each of them was different Ben Nevis track was most crowded, but being there and not hiking on highest peak in Britain was not an option also. Cuillin Hills in Isle of Skye was very peaceful with awesome vies on North Sea. Here we tried what one can do with proper hiking boots stepping up at the wall. Cairncorm - here we had a picnic at the top of the mountain. So if anybody would ask which one to choose, we would recommend them all.
Driving and car rental. If you plan to drive Scotland by yourself and hire a car, do not take the biggest car. The roads in Scotland can be very narrow. You will definitely be better off with a smaller car. Also, the distances are not long between the points of interest, so driving a small car is not uncomfortable.
In Scotland we were positively surprised by the food. It all starts with the breakfast, which is served a’la carte. In smaller Bed&Breakfasts you have to order the breakfast in the evening. We recommend trying smoked salmon with scrambled eggs. We were not disappointed in any of the meals, they were all lusciously made and tastefully served. Also, the service in restaurants and hotels was delicately friendly.