My Heart's in the Highlands

While my time in France was full of love (my dear, delicious cheese), my european romance didn't fade on the flight over to Scotland. Just take a look at the picture above. Like COME ON! If you were to look 'rugged and beautiful' up in the dictionary, I'm pretty sure Webster's just has that picture. Robbie Burns sure had it right when he wrote the song/poem 'My Heart's in the Highlands'- I think we both left a little part of ourselves in Scotland. 

I flew from Nantes, France to Glasgow, Scotland to meet my partner-in-crime for a week of kilts, castles and haggis. While I thought the week would be spent working off all of the cheese I had eaten in France hiking the Highland mountains, I was presently surprised to discover that the food in Scotland was more delicious than I had anticipated! 

Before we get to the food, here's a little about our trip: 

With Scottish roots, I found the history in Scotland to be fascinating and there were no shortage of castles to explore! Did you know that clan tartans are actually a more recent Scottish adoption?! For much of Scottish history, tartan was actually banned by the English. After Bonnie Prince Charlie came along and lifted the ban (1745), tartan was associated with regions but not specific families until the middle  of the nineteenth century! And so we spent our days in Glasgow and Edinburgh; our mornings wandering through castles, soaking in history, breaking for afternoon tea, and hiding from the evening rain over bowls of piping hot game meat stew and glasses of single malt.

From Edinburgh, we headed north into the Highlands- the Glencoe area to be specific! Driving on the opposite side of the road was adventure enough without the added challenge of trying not to gawk at the scenery. 

Lavender was abundant along the roads! 

Lavender was abundant along the roads! 

A word about the hiking in Scotland: Buy hiking shoes! I am so so thankful that we had ours. What the Scottish see as a leisurely hike and define as a 'path' are not at all what I would consider as either. The common rating of difficulty is a 5-point hiking boot scale. On the first day, we did a short one hiking-boot trail- an easy stroll through the woods with a small incline. It took us an hour. The second day, we did a three hiking-boot trail- we were climbing had and feet (scrambling) up an open mountain face. It took us five hours! I have never felt more accomplished as I did when we finally reached the top and the view was worth every step and slippery rock! 

And now, for the food (I know you are all dying to hear about haggis!): 

There are three truths about Scottish food.

  1. Haggis is surprisingly delicious! It is just like a well-flavoured meatloaf. In fact, we ordered it three times just to make sure. I should note though that it was never actually served in the lamb's belly, which is probably why it was so good. 
  2. Tea time is the best. And how could a daily ritual of tea, cucumber sandwiches, clotted cream and scones not be?!
  3. Scotch is pretty good (in hot chocolate that is!).

Our favourite places to eat were: 

The Willow Tea Rooms: A beautiful little tea room in Glasgow steeped in the historical Scottish architecture of Charles Renee MacIntosh (first picture below). 

Clachaig Inn: A highland inn with a lively Scottish atmosphere and live music on the weekends. We had the most amazing game-meat stew here. I don't have a picture because a) we were starving after a day of hiking and b) game meat stew, while delicious isn't the most photogenic, so you will just have to take my word for it and try it yourself! 

The Elephant House: This is just the cutest little coffee house in Edinburgh that serves really good smoked salmon sandwiches. This was also the location that J.K Rowling wrote many of the early Harry Potter books, sitting in the back sunroom area, over looking the impressive Edinburgh Castle. The second picture is of the bathroom at the Elephant House- every surface (including the mirrors) are covered in messages to J.K Rowling and HP quotes! 

xoxo Kath