IT WAS a chance to return home to the land of her childhood as Nicola Thompson of Rushworth and her son, Douglas set off to tick off their bucket list.

First stop was Edinburgh where they stayed four nights. They used the hop-on-hop-off bus to get around and saw everything from the castle to Holyrood House.

Now you cannot go to Scotland without trying the whisky and just down from Edinburgh Castle is the Scottish Whisky Experience. Here you can see a video of where the major distilleries are and try their produce and as Nicola says, it was a great experience.

Nicola and Douglas had decided to see as much of Scotland as they could in their five weeks away, there is a tourist route called the North Coast 500 that takes you on a 500 mile trek from Inverness to Glasgow.

They hired a car and set off on their quest stopping at all the major sites along the way. At Loch Ness, Nicola took to the waters in a small boat, sailed past the castle and had a great day. The weather was excellent, mainly 22 degrees and that’s hot for Scotland…real tee shirt weather. They only had four days of bad weather on the entire trip.

At Culloden they visited the Jacobite War Cemetery. A very solemn experience it was. Nicola’s wish was to see as many historical and archaeological sites as possible.

They stayed in airbnbs and found them excellent and in the many small villages they stayed, the local pub was the centre of entertainment. They also took the opportunity to visit many of the distilleries along the way.

They reached John O’Groats, the most northerly point of Scotland. From here they took to the sea catching a ferry to the Orkney Islands where they stayed on the mainland for two nights.

They visited the prehistoric Tomb of Eagles perched high on a cliff and the Italian Chapel so named after the Italian prisoners of war who built the chapel.

From here they visited the WWII Navy Base at Scapaflow, the Kyle of Tongue, a beautiful bay with its great scenery and stayed at an airbnb that could only be described as five star and featured the best home cooked breakfast.

Another ferry to the Isle of Lewis and the Isle of Harris which is famous for its tweed. The Harris Tweed is traditionally made in home cottages; a true cottage industry.

They actually stayed at Lews Castle in an apartment…a bit of a cash splash but it was worth it. In the great hall they found a 100 year old Steinway piano and Douglas played it as they looked out the window over the sea.

They continued by road. It was time consuming as they shared the single track roads with lots of campervans that moved at a snail’s pace.

They had many more stops along the way before finally arriving in Glasgow. Again they used the hop-on-hop-off bus to get around. Glasgow has changed and is now considered to be the arts centre of Scotland.

Nicola and Douglas now travelled to Bristol to stay with friends in Wiltshire. From here they saw Stonehenge and the other major tourist sites and then moved to Lincolnshire to visit Nicola’s sister before flying home.

It was a great experience for both Nicola and Douglas. It had been 35 years since Nicola had last been to Scotland and for Douglas it was a brand new experience.

Until next time,

Safe Travel’n.

Geoff Vallance