Scotland 2012

A lovely 5 day solo road trip through Scotland by rental car. I got to see puffins in the wild, and not just one but hundreds! 😀

Cruachan B&B, Appin

I spent three nights in the lovely Cruachan Bed & Breakfast in a tranquil area by a loch. It was a good base for a hike in Glencoe, and a daytrip to the Treshnish Isles from nearby Oban. And they serve an excellent, filling breakfast. They even offer the option to poach your egg (or boil, bake or scramble).

Hiking the Devil’s Staircase

Issy of the Cruachan B&B took me on a nice hike on ‘The Devil’s Staircase’ near Glencoe. We had lovely views of various snowcapped mountains, including Ben Nevin.

 

Seeing puffins on the Isle of Lunga!

A major highlight of my Scotland trip, and in fact of all my travels: seeing puffins from up close in the wild!

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Lunga is one of the ‘Treshnish Isles’ and a 2 hour visit was part of the trip from Oban.

They are such beautiful and cute birds, walking in their clumsy way and making funny purring noises, but quite humbling when you know how well they can swim and fly.
It was amazing how close they let you come, up until about 3 yards / meters. Some were a bit more shy and had their nests up on the hill, but many others had it right along the footpath. Apparently the proximity of humans protect puffins from attacks by other birds who don’t like humans.

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Fighting puffins

In 2007 I had been looking for puffins in Iceland but they hadn’t come back from their many months out at sea yet. So I was very pleased that my trip to Scotland happened to coincide with the puffins’ nesting time! (And also before the midges start pestering humans, from June onwards.)

Lunga also has a big colony of razorbills, who somehow like to cluster together on one big rock and make a huge racket of noise and poo smell. 🙂

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Razorbill

Lunga is one of the Treshnish Isles and you can book tours through agencies in Oban. I booked through Staffa Tours but the ticket eventually said Bowman’s Tours… I guess it’s all the same. Basically you buy a number of tickets and you make your own way on the ferries and buses.

 

Volcanic basalt columns on Staffa island

We stopped for about half an hour on the pretty little island of Staffa, made of volcanic basalt columns. Nature showing its diversity!

 

Iona island

We had a couple of hours on Iona island to explore the village, the abbey, the old nunnery… I sat in a nice garden and had coffee in the sun. And I went and took a walk to see some lambs and baby cows.

 

Oban

Back on the mainland! I saw Oban only after getting back from the 12 hour boats and islands trip, so after a lovely dinner I left to go back to my B&B. Oban seemed like a nice enough town to visit though.

 

Strathyre

Looking for a foresty area I went to Strathyre, stopping along the way at Loch Awe, and driving all the way around Loch Earn just for fun.

The town of Strathyre seemed to be a bit over its peak. I did a walk but that was quite boring over a paved road, perhaps I took a boring route and there might be nicer ones.
The B&B was lovely, and I took my time to relax, read in the nice garden, and watch some films later at night.

 

Callander

The following day on my way back to Glasgow I stopped in Callander which was a nice little town despite comments about it being overrun with tourists (I guess in summer it is, but it was quiet now). I spent an hour reading and having coffee in a pretty little cafe frequented by locals.

 

Doune castle (Monty Python!)

I also stopped at Doune Castle where some scenes of Monty Python and the Holy Grail were taped! I preferred visiting a low-key castle instead of the completely renovated one in Stirling.

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Doune castle where part of “Monty Python and the Holy Grail” was filmed

I did stop in Stirling to have an early dinner but it was quite a disappointing city. I walked around a bit after a sandwich, saw a few nice buildings… but then left for Glasgow, the end of my trip!

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