Frankly speaking, the first hours we spent cycling Scotland were not the most pleasant ones. We crossed the Scottish borders in the pouring rain, camped in the worst possible spot, and eventually reached Edinburgh totally exhausted and wet. Though, we didn’t mind. The visit to the Scottish capital wasn’t about sightseeing. We were about to see our dear friend, Jagoda, whom we’ve met while staying in Spain. In those circumstances, the rain didn’t seem a problem at all.
Like expected, we had a real blast there. Taking long walks we have seen the most beautiful corners of Edinburgh, went out for a jazz concert, and enjoyed the calming atmosphere of the city’s old streets and alleys.
The nature of Scotland is simply breathtaking. Hills covered in heather and moss, dense woods, loud streams, and grey, calm lakes create a unique, mysterious atmosphere. No wonder that this place is home to so many fairytale creatures, magic and legendary monsters such as the famous Loch Ness Monster. The colors of the Scottish Highlands are deep and cold. Dark green woods and grasses mix here with purple flowers and grey shades of stone and sky. Deer, rabbits, and foxes, as well as all the other forest animals, can be your only companions for hours of exploring the place. All this, together with the rain and low temperatures makes cycling Scotland raw, pure, and in a way inscrutable.
The people we have met here were absolutely amazing. Most of them were interesting, eager to share their knowledge and very warm-hearted but it’s necessary to mention that not all of them were in fact Scottish.
In Dundee, located on the east coast, we had a lovely evening with Jim, who prepared for us a traditional Scottish dish- The Chicken Surprise (the surprise is that it doesn’t contain any chicken!).
Cairncorms National Park
In Aberdeen, thanks to Mark, we have tasted the black pudding and had a great time together with two other Couchsurfers. Heading west, through the Cairncorms National Park we have met the Peake twins, Al and Will who are professional fishermen. Both fish and hunt deer with tourists looking for adventure and spend their life doing what they love. The second passion of the twins is producing short videos, mostly for advertisement. They’ve created Twin Peakes Media and get more and more professional in what they do. Together (and their drone!) we recorded some great footage of our cycling through Scotland. We can’t wait to share it with you!
Scottish National Park
The route through the National Park wasn’t the easiest. In order to make it to the west coast, we had to climb some mountains. It was hard, but the view waiting for us on the top was the greatest reward. It also happened to be the coldest night we’ve experienced during this trip so far. In the evening, when we pitched the tent in some farmer’s garden, the temperature dropped to 2 degrees.
Just before reaching Inverness, we had an unexpected but very pleasant encounter. With empty bottles, we knocked on the door of one of the houses to ask for some water and met a lovely man, stock-farmer who invited us for a cup of tea and some sweets. Happy to get warm (it was raining again) we spent some time together in front of a fireplace chatting and joking. Ben had even a chance to shoot some clay pigeons with a real shotgun!
Cycling through the western part of Scotland, we didn’t have a chance to really get dry. Not without a reason, you can find almost 50 Scottish words and expressions describing different kinds of rain. One of them, called ‘smirr’ made our days seriously miserable. It’s the most annoying kind of rain. It’s very difficult to see. Smirr doesn’t really fall like ordinary rain and it has no sound. If you aren’t careful it’ll fool you into thinking that it’s just another grey, dreich day and before you know it- you’re totally drenched.
Only in Balloch, a lovely place near Glasgow where we tried our first Banana Bread Beer, we could enjoy some sunshine. We moved on towards Cairnryan to catch the ferry to Belfast in Northern Ireland. Both of us enjoyed the calm and beautiful beaches and the company of simply amazing people. A special thanks go out to all we have met and enriched our days. It was a bit unfortunate that we were forced to cycle a few hundred kilometers on a quit busy main route though.
The life of a cyclist in Scotland is not a piece of cake. Apart from climbing and tough weather conditions, one has to face the native inhabitants of this region. No, we are not talking about the Gaels of Scotland but about midges, tiny flying bugs that bite and leave you with itchy spots on the uncovered parts of your body. When you’re on a bike they literally invade your face and get into your eyes. Beware if you don’t have a pair of glasses!
Like in England, you can also find some weird rules in Scotland that, for unknown reasons, survived and still exist in Scottish law. We found one of them exceptionally peculiar. Apparently, if you are Scottish, it is forbidden by law to deny someone to use your toilet who knocks on your door and asks for it! The comfort of an empty bladder seems to be an important issue here!
We got to know a lot about traditions, people and the country. If you are interested to know how to wear a Scottish kilt properly you might want to check out this song
Scotland was, like we expected, one of the most beautiful places we have ever seen. Thank you, Scotland, hope to see you again one day!
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