In September 2013 I travelled with my wife to Scotland on holiday. The reason for this journey was to experience Scottish railways. The trip was arranged by a firm in the town of Cupar. The railways were the normal scheduled services but sometimes using restored carriages and locomotives. The group members were all enthusiastic about the equipment and the lovely landscapes. All had maps, binoculars and cameras. Scotland has mountains, moorland, lakes, woods and islands.
We travelled by air to Edinburgh. If one wishes, a car can be hired there which would be good if a route is self-planned. Edinburgh, the capital, has much to offer the visitor. It has a castle with a lovely chapel, “Queen Margaret’s Chapel”. Also the city has attractive buildings, wide streets, elegant houses and a royal palace, “Holyrood Palace”. A bus waited for our group. We stayed during the visit in the town of Strathpeffer. This is a small elegant town which was famous in the 19th century as a spa. We had accommodation in a hotel and were met each morning by a bus which took us to a railway station. The first of these, Aviemore, is a winter sport centre. When the weather is warm and dry one can take walks. There are many opportunities for renting rooms or houses. Not far away are the Cairngorm Mountains, these can sometimes be dangerous in winter because of extreme weather.
We travelled east by train to Boat of Garten, Thurso and Wick. Wick has a small harbour which I specially like. It is possible to explore the harbour on foot and fishing and other boats can be seen. On the western side of the land we visited Kyle of Lochalsh, Fort William and Mallaig. From Fort William you can see Ben Nevis, the highest mountain in Scotland. From Kyle of Lochalsh the isle of Skye is visible. Here I remembered the poem by Robert Louis Stevenson which describes the journey of Charles Edward Stuart (“Bonnie Prince Charlie”) when, after his defeat at the battle of Culloden in 1745, he fled to Skye. Today there is a new bridge connecting the island to the mainland. From Fort William the train travels over the Glenfinnan Viaduct which everyone wishes to photograph. The viaduct is a Victorian wonder with brick-built columns.
Before the end of the holiday the train or bus had passed along the side of Loch Lomond and Loch Ness. Both of these lakes are more than 20 kilometres in length. Scotland is beautiful but beware! The weather is changeable. Protection against rain is important. But the sun does shine also. The population is friendly and I recommend a visit to Scotland. It is best, I think, to arrange a journey through a travel organiser, but it is possible also to plan alone. For the original Scottish breakfast do not forget the porridge (made with oatmeal).