Scottish Highlands: Edinburgh

Visiting the historic St Conan’s Kirk

It was the final day of my tour of the Scottish Highlands. Following a trip to the Orkney Islands for a friend’s wedding, I had flown to Edinburgh to join a small group tour with Macbackpackers and over the last week we had travelled the Scottish Highlands taking in Loch Ness, the Outer Hebrides’ Isle of Lewis and Harris, the Inner Hebrides’ Isle of Skye, Oban (from where I’d done even more island-hopping!) and now we were about to head back to Edinburgh where we’d be waving goodbye to the minibus, our tour guide and each other.

We began our day in Oban, checking out of our hostel and loading up the bus one final time.

The view over Loch Ard from the grounds of St Conan’s Kirk

Like everyday of the trip, we had a busy day ahead of us with lots of stops along the way, the first of which was at Loch Awe to visit St Conan’s Kirk, a historic church building famous for its architecture. We spent some time looking around the church and in its grounds enjoying the picturesque views across the Loch.

Kilchurn Castle

Next up was a stop at Kilchurn Castle. Paring in the car park at the head of the trail, we began to follow it towards the castle, stopping to pet a friendly sheep sat along the way. Like St Conan’s Kirk, the castle sits on the edge of Loch Awe.

Above, and below, exploring Kilchurn Castle ruins and it’s grounds

We spent some time exploring the castle ruins, climbing the stairs in the turrets to enjoy the views from the top before walking back along the trail to the car park and climbing back on board the minibus.

The National Wallace Monument

After a quick stop at Tyndrum services to visit their award-winning toilets and grab a few snacks, we continued on to our lunch stop in the pretty town of Callander where we browsed in some of the stores and sampled the award-winning pies from the bakery before getting ice cream and walking alongside the river.

Lunch finished, we continued towards Edinburgh stopping at the National Wallace Monument in Stirling. The monument is sat on top of a steep hill and after walking to the top, we enjoyed the views across Stirling.

Most of us deciding not to pay to go in to the monument, we instead followed some of the circular walks around the monument through the woodlands and enjoyed more views over where the Battle of Stirling Bridge took place, the battle in which William Wallace – famously played by Mel Gibson in the film Braveheart – lead his troops to victory.

At the Helix Park in Falkirk to visit the Kelpies sculpture

Our final stop before reaching Edinburgh was in Falkirk to see The Kelpies, a huge sculpture of two horses heads in a parkland. This is the largest equine sculpture in the World and reminded me of something I’d be more likely to see on one of my road trips in the USA!

Then it was on to Edinburgh where, following a group singalong to The Proclaimers’ hit I’m Gonna Be (500 Miles), we were dropped back at the hostel we had started our tour from a week earlier. With most of us staying in local hotels or AirBnBs that night, we all said our goodbyes and went our separate ways, some of us making plans to meet up in the city that evening.

Edinburgh Castle perched above the city on Castle Rock

After checking back into the travelodge I’d stayed at a week before, I made my way into the city to find the meeting point for an Edinburgh ghost tour I had booked. The tour was a ‘free’ walking tour where you pay what you feel the tour is worth at the end.

It was fun to tour the city hearing some of the creepy stories although I mainly found them amusing rather than scary!

Above, t view of Edinburgh from the tour bus, and below, views from the castle grounds

The next day, I took the city’s hop on/off bus tour to see a bit more of the city and find out more of its history. While a couple of the stories were repeats of what I’d heard on the ghost tour the previous night, it was still worth doing as the commentary was interesting and it was a quick and easy way to get around.

That afternoon, I visited Edinburgh Castle. The castle sits on the top of castle rock, a huge hill, meaning it can be seen from across the city and there were great views across the city from the castle grounds. The castle was definitely worth a visit and it was interesting to find out about the history of the building and the city.

Passing Holyrood Palace while waling to Arthur’s Seat

I had a late evening flight out of the city back to Birmingham the next day giving me a bit more time to explore. I decided to spend the morning hiking Arthur’s Seat, the highest point of Holyrood Park. This hill is actually an ancient volcano. There is a well-marked path to the top and there were plenty of other people hiking to follow anyway.

Above, and below, hiking to Arthur’s Seat

Although the path was steep in places and it was a warm summer’s day, I took my time and made it to the top to enjoy the beautiful views across the city.

With the hike not taking as long as I expected it to, I returned to my hotel via a detour taking me past both the Burns Monument and the Nelson Monument. Then, it was time to pickup my luggage and make my way to Edinburgh Airport, my trip to Scotland at its end.

I’d had an amazing time exploring Scotland over the last week or so and hoped to return to see more of this incredible country one day in the future.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s