Bel and Phil's Adventures

Our adventures through Europe, America and Asia

Posts from the ‘Scotland’ category

Scotland – Fort William to Glasgow via Stirling

Tuesday 24th July

Today we are leaving Fort William. For the first time since we got here the clouds are clearing over Ben Nevis and we actually got to see some of the mountain. We were opting to take the picturesque route through Glen Coe, around Loch Lomond into Stirling to Stirling Castle and the William Wallace Monument and then into Glasgow ready for a photo tour tonight. Yes a little crazy.

As we were driving around Loch Lomond through the The Trossachs National Park we saw heaps of walkers. Some had a small back pack, whilst others looked like they were carrying camping equipment. It is clearly an area with many walks and appears to be a very popular walk. Loch Lomond was beautiful and very scenic, however the road is narrow and very busy. It was a little on the difficult side to drive. Phil was quite grateful when we got back onto main roads that were the correct width.

We headed to Stirling and our first sight of the castle was amazing. It is on the top of the only hill in Stirling and having command of that would give you views of 360 degrees. We found somewhere to park eventually as the car park was full. Luckily it was just outside this little café called the The Smithy. We went in there and ordered some food. They had cream of mushroom soup – so I had to try that. It was amazing.

After lunch, we headed up to the castle. It was a long walk uphill. We just took it slow and steady and got there. Mum decided not to go into the Castle, so Phil and I went. It was amazing. I had heard about the unicorn tapestries. We went into the rooms where they were and we were amazed at the detail. It was truly stunning.

We had a look at some other things and then headed out. Phil went down and got the car whilst I had a look in the gift shop. I got a book on Stirling Castle. Phil picked us up and then we went to the William Wallace Monument. This was again around 12.50 GBP. Mum and I weren’t that interested so we waited in the cafeteria whilst Phil went up the hill. It was a massive walk up to the top and then he also went to the top of the monument. Phil really enjoyed this. He has been interested in this aspect of Scottish History, although he did expect to see Mel Gibson or Rob Roy come bursting over the hills as Mel Gibson did in Braveheart.

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The William Wallace Monument seen from Stirling Castle

We then headed off to Glasgow. There were some closed streets so it was a little difficult to get to our hotel. We found it and checked in. Phil took the car to return it and then got an uber back. We had a little while to relax before the photo tour – about 30 minutes.

We met Tom at the hotel and we headed into the city of Glasgow. He showed us some of the street art and the backstreets of Glasgow. He explained how important the city was in the time of the Industrial age and the importance of Glasgow, and then how the city declined for a while with high unemployment. The turning point came when they hosted the the Garden Festival in 1988 and the city was spotlighted in a positive way due to the success of this event.

Since then Glasgow has worked to improve its reputation as an up and coming city again. We headed down to the River Clyde. There was some street art down there too. I loved the bridges with the afternoon light shining on them. After taking photos of many of the bridges, we headed into the park. Tom was explaning that Glasgow has lots of parks and green spaces throughout the city.

He took us to this building which was stunning. He explained that a person wanted to build a factory, but nobody wanted a factory near their home. He then presented a design to them, based on The Doge’s Palace in Venice. They agreed to having the building there. It was stunning – especially with the afternoon sun shining on it.

As we were heading back into the city, we saw a fountain that depicted all of the countries of the Commonwealth.

We were shattered by this time, so headed to a bar to get a drink. We had a lovely conversation with Tom. We took some more photos as we headed back to the hotel.

Scotland – Jacobite Steam Train

Monday 23rdJuly 2018

We are going on the Jacobite Steam Train today – or sometimes referred to as the Harry Potter train. This train leaves Fort William and goes to Mallaig with a stop at Glenfinnan station on the way. This is the train that the footage is used as Ron and Harry try to catch up with the train after they couldn’t get onto the platform 9 ¾ in The Chamber of Secrets. There was a mix of Harry Potter fans and Steam train fans on board as it was a steam train trip. We had booked this trip as soon as the tickets opened back in November!

There was a gentleman from Victoria, Australia sitting with us on the way to Mallaig who was a train enthusiast. Phil checked google maps so we could see how close we were to the Glenfinnan viaduct (where the car was shown in front of the Hogwarts Express). I went to the door where the window opens a little way to take some photos as we crossed the viaduct. Graeme was there too (the Australian train enthusiast). We shared the space so we could both get some pictures. It was awesome.

We stopped at Glenfinnan train station, but I was trying to get the blog up to date so didn’t get out. This I fear was a mistake as I read later that this is the station that they use for when the children get off to go to Hogwarts. Oh well, we’ll have to do this trip again. As we went through a tunnel, the steam fogged up the windows. We started to worry that there were dementors around.

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Window fogged up by the steam – Are there Dementors around?

We arrived in Mallaig and headed straight to get something to eat. We went to this little café / restaurant called The Tea Garden Cafe . They were able to find us a table that had a powerpoint so that we could charge the laptop as it was down to 5%. Their speciality was fish and chips so the 3 of us ordered that. We also had a bottle of Prosecco to share. It was so delicious. The fish and chips were absolutely amazing. Even Phil and Mum agreed that they were the best fish and chips that they had all trip. They were the only ones that I had, so they were the best for me too. We also enjoyed some dessert. I had chocolate cake. An absolutely amazing meal. We had about 30 minutes until we needed to be back on the train to go back to Fort William.

We wanted to go to one of the Harry Potter shops in the town. We couldn’t find it so headed back to the train station to ask someone. She pointed us back the direction that we had come. We hadn’t seen the sign pointing to the shop. We got into the shop with only about 10 minutes to browse and buy. Mum and I both bought some things and then went to the train.

 

On the journey back we were sitting in the ‘Harry Potter’ carriages. These carriages were still first class and similar to the Hogwarts Express with the sliding door. One of the differences was that there were individual seats with a table in the middle. There were 6 seats in the compartment and they were all full. There was a couple from Seattle on their honeymoon and a young lady from Canada who was also on her honeymoon with her husband in another compartment as they couldn’t get seats together.

We had a lovely chat all the way back to Fort William. Phil got some photos as we went over the Glenfinnan viaduct. Unfortunately we didn’t have time to stop or get out at Glenfinnan station.

We got back to Fort Wiliam and took Mum to the Treasures of the Earth museum and shop. We went to go in and realised that it was 12.50 GBP to go in. Phil and I didn’t want to pay $25 AUD each so we opted to wait in the car and work on the travel journal / blog. Mum went in. We thought that she would take at least an hour and she was out in about 30 minutes. She thought that their exhibits weren’t that great. The shop was okay but they didn’t have any minerals that she was looking for, that she could afford or fit into her bag. It was too early to go to the pub for dinner, so we went back to the B and B to relax for a while.

We went to the The Lochy pub for dinner. This food was fabulous and much more reasonably priced than dinner last night. We had a great time here.

We headed back to our B and B to get ourselves organised for our drive tomorrow.

 

Scotland – Isle of Skye to Fort William

22ndJuly 2018

We were up early and farewelled Tim. It felt like we were leaving a friend. That’s how welcomed we had felt with Tim in his home. We will definitely stay here when we come back to the Isle of Skye – with hopefully better weather. Tim was trying to convince us that the best days are in winter – no chance for me to visit in winter!

We were off. The first stop was a photo stop of the Eileen Donan Castle. It looked so beautiful – but again the weather was misty and not at its best. Oh well – we’ve had such great weather elsewhere, we can’t complain. We then went to see about seeing the castle. It was pricey given that we weren’t that interested and we needed to be at Fort William for our 1:30 tour. We ended up having a hot chocolate / coffee there. Phil and I took some photos while Mum browsed in the gift shop.

We kept driving in the car. There was a short detour which I wasn’t keen on due to the misty weather – however Phil insisted on going up to the Ratagan Pass. We couldn’t see anything, but of course the scenery outside the windows was, as usual, gorgeous. As we got below the mist we could see how amazing it could be on a clear day.

We headed into Fort William and got to Torlundy House early. We went searching for something to eat close by and found a Marks and Spencer food hall. Mum and I had some soup and Phil had a sandwich.

We got back to Torlundy House just after 1:30. Ian was waiting for us and we changed cars and took off. He had a mini bus that we piled into. Phil had the telephoto lens on the camera so he sat in the front. Mum was itching to see some deer.

The first place that Ian from Wild West – Wildlife Safaris took us to was a red squirrel feeding station. We waited for about 10 minutes, but they weren’t hungry – sadly! Ian was explaining that the grey squirrels weren’t as prelavent up here in this area of Scotland as the pinemartins are able to catch them far easier than the red squirrels. He was explaining that the grey squirrels are bigger – which of course helps them in terms of fighting the red squirrels for food and living areas. However it hinders them in terms of getting away from the pinemartins as the red squirrels can move far quicker as they are lighter, hence they are easier for the pinemartins to catch.

After this lesson we headed over to catch the Corran ferry to the Morven Peninsula. This is an area that is less populated so we are more likely to catch sight of wild animals. We saw some highland sheep – they have black faces and black feet. Mum was asking Ian about the heather and wildflowers that were growing along the side of the road. He pulled over and explained / showed us the different heather. This was something Mum had been curious about for a while.

We drove on and started our search for sea otter, which are often sighted on the coast here. We were all searching – to no avail – unfortunately. Ian was explaining the difference between otters and beavers. Otters don’t make dams and have different teeth structure. We were driving along the coast and Ian pointed out a heron in the water. Phil was able to get some pretty good shots. We were keeping our eyes peeled for those sea otters. Ian was explaining the different bird life we were seeing. They were too far out to photograph with our current lens (yep we are thinking of getting a more powerful zoom – when we are back home).

We were about to turn around when up on the hill we spot some red deer. How exciting. Ian got the telescope out so that we could have a closer look. Phil got out the zoom lens. They were stags with massive ’10 point’ antlers. It was really cool seeing them. We took some photos and headed back, still watching for sea otters.

 

As we rounded a bend, there was a young deer in a field near the side of the road. We were stoked. Phil managed to get a couple of photos although the sound of the camera startled it. This was super special.

As we were heading back to the ferry (without seeing any otter) Ian was showing us some of the photos that he took of puffins on a local island (with a much stronger zoom). He graciously shared them with me and gave me permission to put them on my blog. If you would like more information about this – please contact Ian at Wild West Wildlife Safaris.

He also showed us some iphone video footage that he had taken whilst walking along the boardwalk in Fort William of some sea otters. He dropped us back to Torlundy House and we checked in. The rooms are lovely. We had already organised a restaurant booking months ago at The Moorings. We opted to go to the bistro. Don’t do it. The food was okay but the service was the worst we had in Scotland. I could understand why it would be popular on a nice sunny day as it was by the Neptune staircase – part of the Caledonian Canal – however the weather was rainy and not nice at all. It was so windy my umbrella from Venice blew inside out. It was only 5 Euros so it’s cheap.

We didn’t hang around and headed back to the B and B pretty quickly. We did some work on the blog (as we are getting further and further behind) and then headed to bed.

Scotland – Isle of Skye

Saturday 21st July 2018

We were initially going out with Tim, the local photographer in the afternoon / evening however the weather predicted that it would start raining so we shifted it to the morning. We had a wonderful breakfast prepared by Tim, (also our B and B host), which was delicious, fresh and hot. Given that the weather was cloudy and misty, we headed south first, (which is Tim’s preferred option anyway). Our first stop was Loch Ainort. One of the picturesque places that we saw yesterday. Tim helped us with composition and how to capture the light and mists.

After this stop we travelled to Isle Ornsay. This was a picturesque little village. Once again working on composition and the settings to capture the light and weather.

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Our next stop was near Bradford at the ruins of a very old church – Cill Chriosd Church. It was constructed around the 16th Century and was used until 1840.

The next amazing place was Elgol. This was a harbour and has many boats leaving from here. We called in to a little cafe to pick up a small lunch to eat by the water (although it was too cold to eat outside and we sat in the car). After lunch we went walking on the ‘beach’ (although there was NO sand in sight – it was all rocks).

After we had finished here we headed off to Sligachan. This is where the creek has this most beautiful bridge over it. Sadly, the weather hadn’t improved since this morning, so we just made the most of it. This is where Tim taught us how to do a trick within the camera that we thought couldn’t be done. Mind blowing! Just stunning scenery.

After here we headed to the north of Skye. Our last stop was Quiraing. We had a couple of stops on the way here, taking photos of the northern highlands. Again, it was cloudy, misty and windy with some rain every now and again. We got up to the top and parked the car and were amazed at this environment. Even in the typical Scottish summer weather, this was amazing.

We headed back ‘home’. Tim had rang and booked us a table at a restaurant in Portree called The Granary. The food was outstanding! It was so delicious. The town seemed rather small with lots of accommodation. There were many people with campervans and even tents down near the creek, where we parked the car.

We headed back home so we could pack and have an early night. Up early tomorrow so we can go to Fort William via Eileen Donan Castle and a couple of other stops.

Scotland – Gairloch to Isle of Skye

Friday 20th July 2018

We had a lovely breakfast supplied by Marion and organised to leave. Unfortunately it was raining, which was only our second day of rain so far, so we can’t complain. We headed off towards the Isle of Skye, going along the scenic route. Our first stop was Shieldag. The weather wasn’t fabulous, but it was still picturesque.

Shieldaig seemed like a quaint little village that seemed lovely, even in this weather. The amazing boat moored in the area looked very similar to the billionaire’s boat we saw at Portovenere, but we couldn’t get close enough to confirm or dispute that opinion.

We headed off again as we have to be at Uig Harbour for our Puffins and Whale tour. We had been advised to go up Applecross, however time was a problem and the weather was dismal. We will have to put it on the list to do next time. We headed towards Plockton as we had been advised that this was also a beautiful place to see.

One of the positive notes of the wet weather was that the creeks were flowing well and we were able to see many waterfalls on the way. Plockton was another very pretty town on the waterfront, that is clearly a holiday maker’s paradise. Although it was raining / drizzly and misty through here, it is still a naturally beautiful place to visit.

Shortly after this stop we crossed the Skye bridge onto the Isle of Skye. This scenery was so stunning even with all of the mist. We headed straight up the road to Uig Harbour. We found Uig Harbour fairly easily and had time to have a quick bite to eat. We went into a restaurant on the pier that seemed to be fairly busy, which is usually a good sign. Maybe the fish was better, but we ordered just baguettes as we were in a hurry. Mum ordered a ham baguette and I ordered Phil and I a ham and cheese baguette. The cheese was totally weird. It looked like it had been squeezed through a grater or something. It was not great, but I was hungry. The waiter had misheard me and only gave us one ham and cheese baguette, so I had half and Phil had half. I didn’t want any more than that. Once again, a lunch fail.

We finished and headed out onto the pier to find the meeting point for the Puffins and Whales cruise. There were a few other people on the cruise with us – a family of four from England, a couple from France and another lady from Europe travelling on her own. We headed out from Uig Harbour and our first animal we were looking for was seals. They look so different from our seals.

We also saw some birds nesting near the seals and a massive waterfall plummeting down from the top of the cliff also near the seals. This is one advantage to the wet / rainy / misty weather.

 

We went out to where the sea bed drops to the Continental Shelf, which creates many currents and it is where the Minke whales like to feed. On our way we were able to see some sea eagles flying around hunting.

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Sea eagles. These adult males have a wing span of about 2.5 metres

Sadly, although we searched for quite some time, we didn’t get to see any of these creatures. We headed back towards the puffin nesting grounds. We were quite excited. These birds are much smaller than we had anticipated. They were about the size of a small cockatoo with a weird big beak. Andi (the driver and wildlife guide) said that the puffins beaks are only this colour when they are breeding. The outer layer of the beak falls off after the breeding season leaving a dull coloured beak. They have short wings that have adapted to swim and fly. The puffins swim with a flying technique under water. In the air, they can beat their wings rapidly, up to 400 times per minute, often flying low over the ocean’s surface, which we were privileged to see.

We headed back towards the Harbour after seeing the puffins and decided to have dinner out before heading to our accommodation. Tim recommended the Uig Hotel and this food was amazing! Phil had a beef burger whilst Mum and I had a chicken meal with had delicious mashed potato.

We headed up to our accomodation – Grasmhor B and B where Tim showed us around. We worked out our plans for the next day as Tim was a local photographer and we had booked Tim to take us out to his favourite places to photograph on Skye. We had an early night – which was well needed.

Scotland, Aviemore to Gairloch

Thursday 19th July 2018

We were up early and on the road heading to Loch Ness and the Jacobite Cruises. We headed to the Dochgarroch Loch. We found it and were there early. We discovered that this loch was part of the Caledonian Canal. This is fascinating. It was conceived in 1773 with the construction agreed to in Parliament in 1803. Thomas Telford surveyed the land and built the canal. It was finished in 1822 at a cost of £910 000 and took 12 years to build. The Caledonian Canal links the lochs in the Great Glen and can be used to get from one side of Scotland to the other using a series of lochs from one loch to the next. It was quite an engineering feat for the time and is still used by pleasure craft today.

We headed out towards Loch Ness through one of the canals. The tour guide was pointing out different points of interest including castles on the shore of Loch Ness. We went past the lighthouse and all of Loch Ness was in front of us. Oh my goodness! It was so much bigger than I had anticipated. Now I know why nobody has so far found the Loch Ness Monster – this thing is massive. We couldn’t see the other side of it from where we entered.

The tour guide was pointing out different points of interest along the way. We reached Urquhart Castle. The boat went past the point and then turned around as they were dropping people off to explore the castle – or the remains of it anyway. We had opted to spend our time in Inverness instead.

We headed back towards the Loch, passing the fishermen and the lighthouse.

The Caledonian Canal is fascinating and we had a look at how it works before heading off to Inverness.

We went into Inverness and drove around for a while looking for a car park. We eventually found one and found a cafe. It was rather ordinary, but ok. We wouldn’t recommend it, but there wasn’t anything that terrible with it either. In all honesty the service was ok and the waitress was friendly. After lunch, we went for a walk up to Inverness Castle. This is used for different government buildings now. There was a lovely view over the River Ness.

After taking some photos we walked back along the riverbank. We checked out some shops and headed back to the car. We had a 2 + hour drive ahead of us to get to Gairloch. It is 2 hours direct, however we had planned some photo stops along the way. We found our way out of Inverness very easily and headed north towards Gairloch.

This was getting into the highland country that we envisioned when we were planning this trip. It was just amazing. Phil would go around a corner or over a hill and we would be absolutely amazed at the sights to see. One thing that we really appreciated was that at absolutely scenic sights, there was a thing called a parking area off the road so that people could pull off and take photos, so clearly knowing us, we did.

 

The mountains were so majestic. The weather was misty and it had clearly been raining up in the mountains as the rivers / creeks were flowing well and we were able to see some waterfalls. It truly was breathtaking. Mum was starting to get a little fed up at how often we stopped, but she liked the photos we were taking.

We found our way to Gairloch (thanks to our built in Navman – best of German engineering) headed for Muldoanich B and B (click on the name to link to the website) .We got a little lost and called Marion. She happily directed us to her house. We pulled up and Robbie came over, introduced himself and offered to help unload the car. We had packed what we needed for tonight in our overnight bags so we didn’t need to get the big cases out – thankfully. Marion greeted us and was so welcoming. She showed us to our rooms and organised a time to suit us for breakfast. Marion suggested 8:00 am, but we were after an earlier time as we had to get to Uig Harbour for our Puffins and whales cruise. This suited her much better too as she an appointment in Inverness in the late morning that she had to get to as well.

We relaxed until we had to leave for dinner at Badachro Inn. Marion had made this reservation for us earlier. We had some confusion as to the time it was booked for and headed off. It was some distance away but we were driving through stunning countryside along the water. We found the Inn and walked in. It was just perfect. Exactly what you would expect a little country inn in Scotland to look like. It was small and cosy as you walked in (luckily cause it was now raining / drizzling outside). You walked in through an outer door into the bar area. It was wood panelled with seats at the bar and some lounges by the fire, with some tables and chairs inside as well. There were also tables and chairs outside on a deck. The owner showed us to our table which was in an enclosed glass deck overlooking the water. The owner is British and when we asked him the difference in the tide (as it was clearly low tide) he told us they had to wear goggles in the restaurant during high tide.

We sat down and then had to decide what we were going to order. It all sounded so good. I opted for the lamb cutlets with mashed potato and carrots and so did Mum. It was amazing! Phil had the chicken and leek pie which he loved too. This meal was so beautiful in such a perfect location. Mum and Phil had the pear and apple crumble. It was so hot that it was steaming. I had the chocolate cake with melted in my mouth. It was such a perfect meal in a stunning location with such a homely, cheerful feel. This night in this place will live in my memory for a long time.

On the way back to Muldoanich B and B at Gairloch, we stopped to take some photos. It was so windy and starting to rain.

 

We enjoyed chatting to Robbie. We felt so welcomed here and the rooms are lovely. If you are looking for a B and B in Gairloch, we can highly recommend Marion and Muldoanich B and B. Up early as we are off to the Isle of Skye in the morning.

Scotland, Edinburgh to Aviemore

18th July 2018

We picked up our hire car this morning and were able to get all of the bags and Mum into the car. (Luckily for Mum 🙂 ) It is a BMW and very flash. We got the rundown on the car – including how to connect my phone so we can play some music and were away. We hit some traffic on our way out of Edinburgh which was frustrating.

Our first stop was to get photos of the Firth Bridge (as suggested by Rich). We were very happy with the results.

Our next stop was Perth, UK (not Australia). Due to the traffic, we couldn’t spend a great deal of time here. It did look very pretty. We stopped to have morning tea, which we had brought with us from Edinburgh. We found a park to sit in and have it. It was lovely.

Our next stop was Dunkeld, which is a lovely old village on the River Tay. We had lunch here by the river which was a nice stop. We explored the village for a little bit and then headed off again.

We then headed towards The Hermitage. We thought it was only a short walk to The Hermitage – nope – it was a mile and a half round trip. It wasn’t that great and it certainly didn’t look anything like the photos.

We then went to Blair Castle. We got there and were told at the gate that we were too late. It was 4:28 and the final entry was 4:30! It would take us more than 2 minutes to park. By the time she finished arguing with us we could have made it, if she had phoned ahead. We paid for the gardens and raced up there. We went in through the souvenir shop and asked if we could have a look inside. One of the management team let us in, but we couldn’t go up on to the first floor as they had already started closing up the rooms. We were happy to see some of the castle. It was massive, with many artefacts over the years.

After we had finished here, we headed to Aviemore. This is where we were spending the night at Ravenscraig Bed and Breakfast. We got to the bed and breakfast where Scott happily greeted us. We got checked in and then headed out to dinner. Scott had tried to book us into a restaurant for dinner, but it was booked out. He was able to get us a reservation in a restaurant called Macdui’s. Aviemore was really busy with lots of people everywhere. It is in the Cairngorm’s National Park and so picturesque. We headed down to Macdui’s and had a brilliant meal.

We headed back to our room as we have an early start tomorrow. Scott has been beyond kind and has agreed to cook our breakfast early for us at 7:30am. We have to be up at Loch Ness by 9:15am.

Edinburgh, Scotland

Tuesday 17th July 2018

Today we were leaving London and heading to Edinburgh. We were leaving from Kings Cross station (where platform 9¾ is). There is a Harry Potter shop at the station and an opportunity to get a photo going onto the platform. We had walked up to the station yesterday afternoon to work out where we had to go for this morning and discovered the shop!

They had similar things to the Movie Studio Tour, but a couple of different things too. We bought a few things, mostly stuff that we had wished we had bought on the tour, but hadn’t.

We found our train and got sorted easily. There was a luggage van that we could leave the big cases in, which made things much easier. We found our carriage and our seats very easily. We organised our meal – we got either breakfast or lunch as complimentary. Phil chose breakfast where Mum and I decided to get lunch as we had eaten something in the station while waiting for the train. This was a bad decision. The breakfast would have been MUCH better!

The train was very comfortable and I got photos downloaded, edited and the text for the blog up to date.

We arrived in Edinburgh. This city is so gorgeous. We found our hotel and then headed out. Mum wanted to check out the Natural history museum, whilst Phil and I wanted to check out Edinburgh Castle.

Phil and I went up to Edinburgh Castle. It was much colder here than when we were in London. The castle is on top of the hill at the end of The Royal Mile. Phil and I were in time to join a guided tour. We started. near the gate and our guide explained the different areas of the castle and how it was defended. It was a beautiful view. After the tour was over we went in to see the Crown Jewels and the sandstone that all reigning kings and queens have sat on. It was held in London but now resides here at Edinburgh Castle with the condition that it is returned to Buckingham Palace for any future coronations. After seeing this we went in to see the oldest church on the castle grounds. It is the oldest section of the castle as it hasn’t been destroyed.

We headed down towards the hotel and stopped off at a pub that was near our hotel. It was so delicious. I had bangers and mash and they were the best sausages I’ve had. The sauce was absolutely beautiful. Phil had steak. He was so jealous of my meal. It truly was fabulous.

We headed back to the hotel, got our camera gear, checked in with Mum who was back and had a great time at the museum. We organised an Uber and were off to meet Rich from Rich Dyson Photography (click his name to link to his website) for our photo tour of Edinburgh. We met him behind the castle at the Waldorf Astoria hotel. Our first photo stop was in front of a newly renovated fountain with the castle in the background. Rich was explaining to us how to use manual settings and was suggesting which aperture and time values to use. We started walking around the bottom section of the castle with Rich showing us some great veiwpoints to take photos of the castle. After here he showed us the oldest pub in Edinburgh ‘allegedly’.

We then went around the corner to see the street that JK Rowling used as inspiration for Diagon Alley. It was so cool. The street curved around and how rows of shops on both the street level and then another level on a pedestrian walkway above. The shops are all very close together and have brightly painted walls. It looked fabulous.

We then headed up to the monument for Greyfriar’s Bobby. This was a little terrier dog that showed unending loyalty to his owner, sitting by his grave for after his owner had passed away until the dog died as well. There is a pub named after the dog and a little monument. We then went into a cemetery behind the pub with a grave for the dog. We saw the school (through the gates) that inspired Hogwarts and a grave of a Thomas Riddel. Rich was telling us how he often does night time shots from the cemetery to get the star trails and the ghost tours often come through. He takes great delight in jumping out from behind grave stones to scare the daylights out of the people on the ghost tours.

After we had explored here, we headed back to The Royal Mile and into Riddle’s Court. There was an interesting set of stairs in this little enclosure. This courtyard is over 400 years old with the buildings being used for a variety of purposes, initially as a merchant’s house but with many other uses since then.

After here we headed back out onto The Royal Mile and diverted off at different points to take great photos. Rich was constantly helping us with composition and ways that we could get the most out of our camera.

We started crossing the city to reach our evening location above the city. Along the way we went into a courtyard that used to house an inn for people waiting outside the city walls. It was really interesting.

We got up to Calton Hill and started setting up the tripod. Rich was explaining different options and ways to improve our night photography. I was pretty exhausted by this time, but Phil was super keen.

Rich suggested a place to take photos on our way out of Edinburgh tomorrow morning. We learnt so much from him and got to see different parts of Edinburgh we would never have found on our own. If you are in Edinburgh and would like a local to show you great shots (and some of the Harry Potter sites) I would highly recommend contacting Rich.

We are picking up our hire car tomorrow (driving on the ‘normal’ side of the road – for us anyway).

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