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The Isle of Arran – Scotland in Miniature

The Isle of Arran – Scotland in Miniature

Explore historic castles, scotch distilleries, picturesque mountain waterfalls, mysterious rock formations and more on a trip to the Isle of Arran, Scotland.

weekend warriors // one night at gleneagles – the lazy travelers

As you may recall, last summer, we took our little family of four up to the Scottish Highlands f

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weekend warriors // one night at gleneagles – the lazy travelers

As you may recall, last summer, we took our little family of four up to the Scottish Highlands for a week on the Isle of Skye. If you know anything about Skye, then you know it doesn’t make much sense geographically to follow it up with one seemingly random night at Gleneagles. AND YET, spoiler alert: that’s what we did. After many mishaps. While we initially planned to fly in and out of Inverness for a Saturday – Saturday itinerary, we realized pre-trip that this meant returning to Notting Hill during Carnival. LOL, NO. Luckily, it wasn’t too difficult to make a last minute change and extend our trip to include a weekend in Edinburgh. In the end, we decided to check-out of our cottage as planned, and spend Saturday driving south through Glencoe. It was a long drive, so we justified a one-night stop in the countryside, picking somewhere halfway between Skye and Edinburgh. Then, after our one night in the countryside, we would drive another two and a half hours, and explore Edinburgh for the weekend. After, we’d fly back to London on Tuesday afternoon. We found and booked our countryside hotel, and we used our Marriott points for an Edinburgh pick. Clearly, this plan was perfect! And then, everything went awry. Because for SOME REASON! This JUST SEEMS to be what happens to us IN SCOTLAND. I cannot tell you why, but on our second to last day in Skye, I asked Jeff to give our next hotel a call and make sure they had something we needed for our baby. Honestly, I don’t even know what it was, but my 4-month postpartum brain decided it was important, so he rang them up. I could tell instantly that it was not going well. Apparently, they were all, “baby? what baby? you don’t have a baby, we hate babies.” I’m paraphrasing, but they had in their records that we were booked into a room that is strictly NO BABIES, despite the fact that we included two of ’em on our reservation. I had definitely birthed two babies who we had brought on this exact trip! I was pretty sure one involved party had gotten it wrong. Listen, I’m not going to name and shame the hotel, because I’m positive they would have helped us out if they had availability in their baby-approved rooms. (Are these farm-style pens? Or do these rooms have walls made of pillows? Sounds like a suffocation hazard. ANYWAY. We will never know!!). Really, I have no recollection of wtf hotel it was, because I erased them instantly from mind and got to work finding a Plan B. Finding something on the route we wanted to drive was the real issue, and then finding someplace with availability was the next problem. Our search moved further and further south, until I was looking at Andy Murray’s Cromlix, about an hour’s drive north of Edinburgh. They didn’t have anything that would work, but the extremely nearby Gleneagles absolutely did. Done, one night at Gleneagles, booked. We now had a 4.5 hour drive ahead of us instead of a 2.5 hour drive, but it was fine. I mapped out the perfect little roadtrip through Glencoe with tons of stops to stretch eight legs and two growing spines. It would be longer in the car than we’d planned, but I was going to make. it. WORK! After we checked out from our cottage early on Saturday morning, we began the drive south. We decided to stop in Fort William to see the Glennfinnan viaduct of Harry Potter fame, and watch the Jacobite Steam Train pass. I read that the train would cross the viaduct about 30 minutes after leaving the station at Fort William. You can check the timetable on the Jacobite website here, and plan accordingly. We struggled to find the closer angle that looks more like the film before the train would cross, but I actually enjoyed the panoramic view. This post is way more detailed than I could ever be because #lazy, but if you’re interested in planning your own visit, then have a read. It details how to find the other spot, and offers a few more tips and tricks for planning your day. After, we walked back down to the visitors centre and enjoyed a little picnic. We also bought two little stuffed hairy coos for the kids. I named Henry’s Hamish, Margot named hers Sven. Hamish and Sven and our family of four were downright SMUG after the best little start to our day. Next stop: Glencoe! (HA!) We climbed back in the car, and I set Gleneagles as our destination. Here’s what I saw as I set the phone back down, and promptly fell asleep. “Wake me up when it’s pretty,” I murmured, knowing we were about an hour from Glencoe. (Before you’re all waaah pooooor Jeffffffffff, first of all: I was breastfeeding a giant turkey of a baby, which is exhausting. Second of all, I’m a prize, let me sleep.) Anyway, here is where I woke up: Apparently, during a signal drop, the GPS reset to the shortest route (BY 1 MINUTE), and sent us an hour in the opposite direction. Jeff didn’t realize it until we were an hour past Fort William, for a whole list of reasons. Words were exchanged, and I listed some other possible reasons, most of which were “unfair.” Marriage! We ultimately decided and begrudgingly agreed that a drive back an hour in the wrong direction on a 4.5 hour roadtrip just wasn’t worth it. This is a decision that will haunt me for the rest of my life. Or at least until I’m done writing this post, when I’ll probably forget about it again. And then I’ll trot it back out as a classic roadtrip story to tell the kids in 15 years. But anyway, more on that in a minute. For now, our new route didn’t have any of the planned stops I’d mapped out. As we ducked in and out of service, I tried to find some worthy new excursions. After a quick search, we made our way toward Pitlochry. As we passed a village called Killiecrankie, I though YES, it’s me. But nay, we didn’t stop, Pitlochry was the new goal. We parked in Pitlochry and walked around the objectively adorable town, trying to spin our moods around. Because my entire life now revolves around snacks for all ages, we stocked up. I carried the stuffed hairy coos with their heads poking out of my purse, at Margot’s request, so they could see the sights, too. We made up silly songs about Hamish & Sven, and made one final stop in a cute childrens’ shop. Moods (mostly) lifted! But at the till, the shopwoman asked us in her thick brogue if we were aware of the traffic incident. She thought the closure might be pretty disruptive for the final hour of our drive, but didn’t really have any details. Just an ominous warning, half whispered in a Scottish accent. As all ominous warnings should be, really. We hopped back on the A9, and soon realized that whatever had happened was bad. The traffic was all rerouted, but this was a Saturday in August. It’s like, the only month other people visit Scotland and the only month the Scots stay put. There was no option but to sit. And sit. And sit. Bumper to bumper. Frozen on repeat. We left Skye at 6 AM. I estimated a 3 PM arrival based on our Glencoe route, which had about 4 stops. We pulled into Gleneagles just shy of 6 PM. With 2 stops. Def not counting the roadside breastfeeding stops. Yeah, probs should have turned around back at that random ass craft shop, EH? None of it was ideal. Honestly, no one was in a good mood. And like the amateurs we are, we’d promised our 2.5 year old we were going somewhere with a pool. Of COURSE we can go in as soon as we get there! (Idiots). Here’s where I will say that our one night at Gleneagles was lovely. The staff is warm and welcoming, the property is gorgeous, and it’s insanely family-friendly. Our room was beautiful (minus the hideous baby cot, which seems to be a serious hotel problem across the board). We had our own little garden, plus a sitting area and the coziest baby robes I’ve ever felt in my life. They were so cozy that Henry fell asleep the second we wrapped him in his, which means one came home with us. Turns out it wasn’t the robe, he was just exhausted from screaming his face off for the last 2 hours of our accidental 12-hour roadtrip. But still, it is soft af. The newly decorated kids club is incredible, with a section for older kids and a more secure and heavier staffed area for under 3s. As promised, Jeff took Margot to swim as soon as we arrived, while I waited with Henry for our room service dinner to arrive. Here’s where I point out that I took, like, no great photos. It wasn’t a planned stop, it wasn’t sponsored. It’s still worth talking about. After a necessary and restorative sleep, we woke up ready to enjoy the day. Naturally, our day spent in the car was probably the most gorgeous weather Scotland saw in 2018. Sunday was predictably gray with nonstop downpours. NO MATTER, we made do. We had breakfast downstairs, and Margot took another swim before we played around the kids club for a bit. After, I took her out for a tour of the stables, where she fell properly in love with every single horse. We went back into the hotel for lunch, and Jeff and I grabbed a drink at the bar while both babies took their afternoon naps. (Ahhhh the days of two kids napping). Our one night at Gleneagles ended quickly. I mean, technically it was longer than our drive to get there, but spiritually, it felt SIGNIFICANTLY shorter. Our following two days in Edinbrugh made up for it all, but I’m going to hold back on that for a bit longer. Why, you ask? For an excellent reason, thank you. That’s right, an LT TRAVEL ANNOUNCEMENT! Carolyn is heading back to London for Friendsgiving this year. Friday morning, we’ll hop a flight back up north to explore this new-to-her city! As this will be my third visit, I feel most confident giving you one comprehensive guide once we properly experience it together. Stay tuned! xoxo, ashley

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to the highlands // one week on the isle of skye – the lazy travelers

– This post, “to the highlands // one week on the isle of skye ” includes affiliate links.

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to the highlands // one week on the isle of skye – the lazy travelers

– This post, “to the highlands // one week on the isle of skye ” includes affiliate links. This means that if you decide to book some of our recommendations, we may receive a small commission. – I’ve wanted to visit the Isle of Skye since… I honestly can’t recall. I just know that it’s been at the top of my list for a long, long time. Unfortunately, it’s one of those destinations that comes with a lengthy list of solid reasons not to go. As anyone will tell you, if you want decent weather, you have to go in July or August. Plus, it’s far and hard-to-reach, so you really need to go for at least 4 days to make it worth the travel time. But! Once you’re there, it’s misty and magical and made for cozy jumpers and cups of tea! BUT! Who wants to spend their prized vaca time hauling it up to what is essentially a cool-weather destination during the peak of summer? A woman who just had a baby, THAT’S WHO. I’m thinking back to last summer, and realizing that we were maybe slightly insane? Henry arrived nearly three weeks early, in early April. Six weeks later, we boarded a flight to the US, and celebrated my sister’s wedding. A few weeks after we landed back in London, we spent a quick weekend at the Four Seasons Hampshire. About a month later, we spent nabbed ourselves a 4-day weekend on Daylesford Farm. Shortly after that, we… moved flats. Yes, with a 2.5 year old and a 3.5 month old, we packed up our lives and our flat and said our tearful farewells. We tailed a moving van to a few neighborhoods over and a few flights up, where we found ourselves in a 3rd floor walk-up, on a leafy little street in Notting Hill. (We have since backpedaled on that decision and moved to a lower ground floor flat, same street. My spine is eternally grateful.) ANYWAY. Before we signed the lease, because we knew we wanted to move to Notting Hill, we also knew we had to plan to leave over the last weekend of August. If you’re in the UK, then you know that that’s a bank holiday weekend, meaning everyone has off that Monday. If you’re in London, you probably know that that’s also when Carnival falls. A 3-day, 24-hour street party that takes over almost all of Notting Hill, and most definitely the area around our flat. Know what’s extremely inconvenient when you’re trying to get a 4-month old to sleep through the night? A 3-day, 24-hour street party. AND SO, in the midst of my pregnancy, our brainstorming began. I knew I wouldn’t want to go anywhere too hot, since newborns and high temps do not pair well. (This is mainly true if you suffer from postpartum anxiety and have an extreme dependency on Dr. Google. Hello, I was and am afflicted with both.) We brainstormed and fairly quickly agreed: this was the ideal time to finally (finally!) visit the Isle of Skye. how we traveled // We woke up early for a pre-9 AM flight to Inverness, and arrived just over 90 minutes later. Inverness airport is tiny, and we got a shuttle to a funny little office to pick up our rental car. We travel with our own carseats, by the way, and installing them is STILL a headache. It is, without a doubt, the only truly horrible part about traveling with children. I honestly only wish away time when I dream of the days they’ll be big enough not to need carseats, I mean it. But alas, they are still wee ones, as the Scots say. So install the carseats we (read: Jeff) did, and eventually, we were off. We were faced with a nearly 3-hour drive to the cottage we rented, but agreed to stop along the way, if needed. Fortunately, both kids zonked out almost immediately, and we made it two straight hours to Loch Carron. (In Wester Ross!) (Not Westeros). We stopped at a little craft store for treats and coffees. Obviously, we ended up buying adorable little sheep-lined booties for Henry. Don’t worry, I managed to tear them the very first time I put them on his giant sausage feet. From there, we drove directly to the cottage we rented in Dunvegan. where we stayed // Here’s the thing. The accommodation options in Isle of Skye are pretty limited, and from our research, we decided a cottage was probably the best bet. It seems that pretty much all of the cottage rental companies get the same feedback. If your cottage is fine, your experience is fine. If there are any issues, then the company probably will not offer any support. Fortunately, ours was beautiful, but unfortunately, we did run into some small issues that became bigger when we tagged in the company. Even so, I’m not going to call out our specific company. I was really frustrated with our customer service experience, yes. The cottage we rented was mostly really nice, and the location was incredible. There was a ton of space, and we had all the basics we needed. It looked out on a picture-perfect loch, and a herd of sheep hung out on our front lawn every single day. Unfortunately, it was not cleaned properly before we checked in, and that set off a whole series of irritating, uninteresting events. I really only mention it, because I do think it’s worth knowing that this is not uncommon. We later lamented about this experience with friends who travel often to Scotland, and they kind of said this is par for the Scottish experience. All’s lovely until you have a complaint, and then it become a weird, exhausting blame game. (Please note Henry’s booties. SO cute, so short-lived.) This certainly rang true, so just do your research. Pay more attention to the negative reviews than the positives, even if they seem few and far between. I think the biggest issue is the fact that all of Skye is working hard to catch up to the sudden surge in tourism. There’s now a huge demand that they can’t quite match. I also suspect that as Skye’s popularity continues to rise, so will the range of accommodation options. When it comes down to it, though, I can say that having a little lochside cottage of our own was, generally, pretty stellar. what we did // When you’re traveling with kids, itinerary planning can be a massive waste of time. Everyone’s interests and motivations can change daily, if not hourly. We learned early: when traveling with kids, it’s best to keep your expectations as low as possible. Oh, and always bring extra snacks. And then pack some more snacks on top of the extras. Portree | This is Skye’s capital and largest village. We decided to visit early in the week, so we could go back again throughout the week if we loved it. And we did! We had lunch, we walked along the cobbled streets and down along the water, and we did some shopping. The best buy? This book, “There Was a Wee Lassie Who Swallowed a Midgie,” obv. Old Man of Storr | If you google things to do on the Isle of Skye, a hike up the Storr and a visit to the Old Man (aka: a series of rock formations overlooking the Sound of Raasay) is on every single list. We ended up heading over fully unprepared, but figured we’d just scout out the easy — yet steep — hike. We made it about halfway before Margot sat herself down on a rock, sighed deeply, and said she was ready to go home and see the sheep now. Naturally, that’s exactly what we did instead of push to the top. But we did stop on our way home at a cute honor bar-style farmstand, complete with eggs, homemade sweets (including a fudge-like sweet call Scottish tablet), and fresh jam. We left with our spoils for the tiny amount of sterling that was requested. Dunvegan Castle | This was another highlight that was extremely close to our cottage (telling you, its location was unbeatable!), and we were happy to go in and poke around a bit. The real highlight for all of us were the grounds and the gardens, and it was a good little half-day excursion for us all. Neist Point | Like the Old Man, Neist Point is on every Skye-related list. We again didn’t make it all the way along the trail, but we were happy to take in the views on our own, abbreviated version. The Fairy Pools | This was a hike that we made a point of fully preparing for. We packed lunches in the morning, and ate a big snack in the car before we set off. I wore Henry in the ErgoBaby 360, and together we crossed streams and climbed over rocks and looked for fairies. Margot was ON BOARD for this hike. I honestly believe her when she says she saw fairies swimming in the pools. where we ate // We cooked breakfast and dinner at home, which worked out well for us. But we ate lunch out pretty much every day, and these were the stand-outs. Dulse & Brose | This little gastropub in Portree was adorably decorated, and a worthy lunchspot in a town that is the definition of SO STINKIN CUTE. Jann’s Cakes | Jann’s was around the corner from our cottage, and she comes with a lot of diehard fans. Katie of Stories my Suitcase Could Tell was really my biggest motivator for going, mainly because she grew up in the Outer Hebrides, so I trusted her for an authentic rec. (The Isle of Skye is one of the Inner Hebrides islands.) YEP, STACKED UP. We ordered sandwiches before our cakes, but I’d say just go for the cake. Skeabost House Hotel | We considered staying here when we weren’t sure if a hotel would be preferable. Based on our experience at the restaurant, I’d say it’s a great option for couples or families with older kids. It just felt like a serene and relaxed place, and while they were great with Margot & Henry, the general vibe was definitely just a bit more grown up. The Three Chimneys | We were extremely lucky we nabbed a (very!) last minute lunch res here. It’s consistently named one of the best restaurants in the UK, and arguably cited as the best in Scotland. They don’t accept kids under 8 for dinners, but there were little ones at at least three other tables during our meal, and the staff was lovely. They even amended the seasonal gnocchi dish for Margot to enjoy (upon request), but then they both passed out for the majority of the meal. We took her gnocchi to go, and it was basically like we had our own little Michelin-starred vaca lunch. LUXE. This trip really was so special. This year, we opted for a more traditional summer holiday, complete with sun and lots of sand. (So much sand, I’m still finding sand from that trip.) It was incredible, but a little part of me felt wistful for extra long days donned in jumpers and wellies, going on long walks, looking for fairies. But our little Scottish escape didn’t end with Skye! Stay tuned for the final three nights. xo! ashley – This post, “to the highlands // one week on the isle of skye ” includes affiliate links. This means that if you decide to book some of our recommendations, we may receive a small commission. –

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