Coming from a wee town in Scotland called Nairn, I love going back to the Motherland and doing a bit of exploring. One of my favourite trips to do is starting from the coast and taking in the beautiful beach and Moray Firth, then jumping into a car (a new MINI sport would be nice) and travelling through the back roads to Culloden, via the battle field, along Loch Ness and onwards to scale the mighty Cairngorms mountain range.
The Battle of Culloden is one that every Scot knows about. The scene of one of the most bloody battles fought on Scottish Land against the English. I have visited it many times and each visit not only teaches you something new about those troubled times, but it also acts as a reality check that we live in peaceful times now. The tourist centre at the Battlefield is excellent, and anyone planning a visit to the Highlands should make it a priority to go. One of the highlights being the 360 degree cinema room and screening of the battle, which gives you a real sense of what happened.
Onwards towards Loch Ness and a quick pit stop at the famous Nessie gift shop. This place also has the actual yellow submarine that was used to scan Loch Ness to try and find the Loch Ness monster some years ago. Sadly nothing was found…. yet.
We leave the shop and continue our travel along the banks of Loch Ness towards Urquhart Castle. Only about 30mins outside Inverness the castle is one of the most striking you can ever visit. Although mostly in ruins now, there is still plenty to see and wonder amongst what is left. Standing at the top of the turret and looking out to the vastness of Loch Ness, whilst the chilly wind hits your face, really takes your breath away.
A good few hours can be spent at the castle, but it wasnt our final destination, so after taking some snaps we headed towards the Cairngorns. In need of some refreshments though we stopped off at The Potting Shed for some tea and cake. Primarily this is a Nursery to pick up some new garden plants, but at the back it also has the most amazing cakes. When you have finally decided on your slice and which tea you fancy, customers can make their way through to the conservatory which overlooks the natural forest. Whilst looking out the window we were treated to everything from red squirrels, to pine martins and various different types of birds.
Sugar levels high now, so we jumped back in the car and headed through Aviemore on the A9. Turning off towards the Cairngorm mountain range, the weather was starting to change. As we scaled the mighty mountain snow started to appear along the side of the road. Eventually we got to the summit where there was now lots of snow all around us. The temperature was COLD (very cold!) but at the summit you can stop off and stretch your legs in the visitors centre or carry on up further on the funicular railway (if you don’t fancy walking). This place is magical, and a must visit for everyone be it skier, keen walker, photographer or someone that just wants to see one of the wonders of the world.
This blog post was written in collaboration with MINI.