Our first stop was at Blackpool, England which is a few hours drive from Newbury and we had booked a hostel to retire for the night. By the time we reached, the roads were deserted. Keeping in mind sleeping habits of the English, we were preparing ourselves for spending the night in cars. Thankfully, that didn’t happen and we got to our rooms. This was the first time I was staying at a hostel, and it sure was memorable. The rooms were shady, we couldn’t even find a bathroom, the bunk beds made strange noises every time someone turned in sleep. It was a sleepless night, but a night to remember because a few of us hit a nearby bar at midnight. By ‘few if us’ I precisely mean the two of us who had to drive the next day, starting at 5am.
The night crawled away slowly for the rest, but it did. Soon, we were ready to take on the roads. We left, but I secretly wished we had some more time at Blackpool as it looked like a really interesting town. The cars got moving and we were speeding towards our next stop, where we planned to reach by lunch time. But, either the GPS was faulty or we drove like Schumacher and reached Lake District in just a couple of hours. An interesting boat ride, a lunch break and lots of clicks later, we started off towards Scotland and I once again wished we had more time at Lake District. But the shopaholic in me was satisfied that I at least bought myself a pair of topaz earrings even though my friends tried hard to keep me away from those cute little shops.
Soon, the picturesque Lake District was left behind and we entered the boundaries of Scotland. There were mountains on both sides and it formed a beautiful canvas. We clicked some more pictures. The previous sleepless night was taking a toll on me now, and I decided to sleep in the car while rest of the gang visited services for a cup of coffee and other necessities. Here, I would like to take a break and confess, that I have never repeated the mistake of not using a washroom at a stop, ever again in my life.
We drove continuously for the next couple of hours until we were in a massive traffic jam. An hour almost passed and we had not even driven a mile. I was already in a messed state now, and had it been India, I would have started looking for bushes. I don’t remember much of what happened after that. The only thing I remember is my bladder cursing me for oversleeping. A couple of hours later we reached our destination and the relief I felt cannot be described in words. And now I start remembering bits and pieces of what happened in that traffic jam. My friend who at the driver’s seat was in a similar state, and driving in such a situation must have been tougher than just sitting. The cars were not moving at all, and he risked it. Jumped out of the car, and into the bushes. No one else knew how to drive and the traffic started clearing up. It was not India and we were blocking the road now. Thankfully no one noticed the empty driver’s seat until he came back and we drove off! Our stay was booked in a beautiful cottage at a town called Inverness, up in the hills. There was not a hint of mankind nearby. We could be desis without embarrassing ourselves which means there was no one around to complain that we were being noisy. This was heaven! We could shout our lungs out, laugh as loud as we wanted and no volume control on the music we played. Pure Bliss. Ghost stories continued through the night but didn’t keep us from falling asleep after a tiring day.
Next morning we were all set to see Scotland, in all it’s glory. We started early and stopped every now and then for a picture. Scotland is just so beautiful that it seemed as if it was a panorama painted by Picasso. Every road, every curve, every valley and every hill cannot be made into a tourist destination but even if they do, no one will complain. We stopped at numerous places which were not on the tourist-map of Scotland. At one such location, we stopped and did bhangra by the roadside on the tunes of Honey Singh. A Scottish biker passing by was so amused that he joined us for a while. The guys got busy admiring his bike while we lucky ladies taught him the bhangra!
To say that Scotland is beautiful will be an understatement. We witnessed huge mountains and valleys on one side of the road and the deep blue Atlantic Ocean on the other. A few minutes from our cottage was a peak that was approachable by cable-car and we were all in for this wonderful experience. The views were breathtaking all throughout the journey to the top. What we saw from the peak just cannot be described in words and I will not even try.
Dear Reader, by now you must have guessed a pattern that my heart follows. Whenever I am asked to step into the car at a beautiful place, the first answer is always No. And then I reluctantly get inside, thinking if I’ll ever be able to visit the place again, and how much of it I’ll remember when I am old and suffering from memory loss. Forgetting such amazing places was a recurring nightmare until I started documenting them on the blog.
The thought of typing it all down someday, brought me solace and then we drove back and found river Ness forming perfect curves, criss-crossing the mountains. Everything about the spot was perfect. We had a long halt here to click pictures and just sat by the river side absorbing immense beauty that lay in front of our eyes.
We started again after a while and headed straight into the wild and lost our GPS signals. Our mobiles were anyway not connecting. A real adventure was in store as we followed the road signs to reach somewhere. Which soon converted into nowhere! But getting lost in the wild had its own advantages; We were now not heading towards a well known tourist spot but saw views so breath-taking that no words could describe them. It took us a good three hours to finally find a way back to our cottage at Inverness with the fluctuating GPS signal.
The next day began with a visit to the town-centre, after which we headed to Eilean Donan Castle. I have seen castles before and they have always fascinated me. But this one took me straight to those Disney movies and nostalgia overpowered me.
Here, even the landscape and the sky were as dramatic as the castle itself.
Our next stop was Fairy Pools, somewhere in the Scottish Highlands. As the name suggests, legend goes that fairy princesses of yester-centuries bathed in these pools to stay forever young and beautiful. There were waterfalls and ponds, and some more waterfalls and ponds. A few of them mightier than the others, but all of them equally beautiful.
Next, Isle of Skye was on our itinerary and it is the most picturesque place I have ever been to. Some places are just too beautiful for words. Even pictures won’t do justice to what we saw and experienced. Isle of Skye deserves an entire new post and I can’t wait to start with it.
The sunset was magical and it was finally time to head back to Inverness, where we had to spend the night. Next morning, we took off for Newbury but not before visiting the capital city of Edinburgh and the famous Edinburgh Castle of Harry Potter fame.
With that, our Scottish adventure came to an end. Or so, we thought. We reached home safe and sound and a few days passed by. And then came a love-letter from Scotland-Police. It said we had over-sped and the speed cameras registered us zooming at 96m/h which was ‘dangerous driving’. Told you, this was one big adventure trip which refused to come to an end. We decided not to challenge the authorities and to pay whatever fine they asked us to, as long as they don’t press charges against our friend who was driving.
With criminal charges of dangerous driving, a massive fine of 200 Pounds, a few points deducted from my friend’s driving licence later, all was sorted except the stories that go around the small town of Newbury. Legend has it that a desi guy over-sped at Scotland and paid a huge fine. Desis have now started following traffic rules even more religiously. And my friend boasts that he got a speeding ticket from none other than Scotland Yard!
So that’s why Scotland remains so special to me. But the post will be incomplete if I don’t mention scotch. And the fridge-magnet I got to remember Scotland by.