After 3 excellent days of hiking in Skye, we stayed the night in Inverness (“the capitol of the Scottish Highlands”) before heading further afield to more adventures. We had the chance to check out nearby Culloden Battlefield, the site of the last battle of the Jacobite Rising. This was especially interesting for Amanda since it has become familiar from the Outlander books, but I also got something out of it.
From there, we were off to Cairngorms National Park, the largest park on the British isles containing 4 of its 5 tallest mountains. Needless to say, I felt like I was in heaven for 3 days surrounded by the trees, mountains, rivers, lakes, and wildlife. We popped into the Glenmore visitor’s center for a spot of tea, sandwich to go, and hiking trail suggestions. We spent the afternoon doing the 3.5-mile loop around Loch Morlich, and instantly felt at peace amongst the trees. I had my eye out for the park’s beloved red squirrel, which it turns out is not so easy to find considering it’s just a squirrel. After a quick pit stop at Cairngorm Brewery we checked into our B&B (which we loved), Carn Mhor Bed & Breakfast.
The next day we hiked the 5.25-mile Meall a’ Bhuachaille circuit, with a serious climb to the top of the mountain in the second half. This hike was a great introduction to Cairngorms as it pretty much has it all: lochs, forest, mountain peak, and a chance to spot reindeer! Sadly, we were not so lucky, but the hike was phenomenal.
Wiped out after the big day, we spent the evening staying mostly off our feet, drinking tea as we’ve become accustomed to on the trip. The next day we packed in a bunch of activities around the park, including a 3.75-mile hike up to Coire an t-Sneachda, tea and cakes at the Inshriach Teahouse for some bird watching, and a stroll along the River Nethy in the Dell Woods. We finally spotted our red squirrel, albeit at a feeder!
After leaving our B&B, we squeezed in one more hike before heading to Glasgow. The Black Wood and Dun da-Lamh fort hike was another 5.25-mile loop, and one of my personal favorites. We even got a fly-over from the Royal Air Force, and chatted with a lovely, bird-watching couple from San Diego on the trail. Small world!
After all this walking about, we needed a break! We enjoyed a quiet night in Glasgow before heading off to the airport bound for Southampton the next morning. We couldn’t wait to see our old pals Sarah and Charley and meet baby boy Jacob!