We'd been planning a car trip to Scotland for a few months now, and Easter break (2017) seemed like a good time to go on a week long adventure around the Highlands. As always, planning a trip is a mixture of emotions for us - excitement, as we are going to see new places, experience new things and meet different people, worry - leaving Simba, our cat, in a cattery is always sad. He doesn't know what is going on and why he needs to stay there. I try to explain it to myself he needs to have some contact with other people, but I guess I'm just trying to find excuses... Last but not least it's the issue of our vegan lifestyle - will we be able to do it when traveling around a rather meat-based area. All in all, we get as ready as we can and off we go!
Overall plan of the trip:
Day 1 - driving from Reigate to Stirling, Sightseeing Stirling + lots of stops on the way - intro to Scotland :-) Airbnb stay near Sterling.
Day 2 - Glencoe, Fort William, Ben Nevis (sadly driving around only). Stay in a hotel near Fort William.
Day 3 - Urquhart Castle, Lochness (driving around). Stay at Airbnb near Inverness.
Day 4 - Isle of Skye (Portree, scenic route to Elgol). Stay at a hotel in Gairloch.
Day 5 - trek around Gairloch. Stay at a hotel in Gairloch.
Day 6 - drive to Pitlochry, stops on the way. Stay at a hotel in Pitlochry.
Day 7 - Blair castle visit and drive back to England.
The scenery everywhere was just stunning. The higher we went, the more dramatic the views were. Lochs set in between hills and mountains covered in fog offered truly romantic experiences :-) And massive areas of unspoilt nature for the benefit of animals just kept me smiling all the time.
Scottish people are so friendly, lots of them striking a conversation with a smile, interested in our culture, very open.
As for food, we did a bit of a preparation. For the first couple of days I prepared some snacks: oat biscuits, chickpea-date truffles and almond scones. I had a bag of porridge, bananas and cinnamon for our breakfasts. Lunches consisted of sandwiches (I took rye bread, but we also bought more on the way) made of avocado, peppers and spinach. With dinners, we either went to the restaurants we knew that had some vegan options, e.g. Las Iguanas, Pizza Express, asked on the way in whether they could cater for us or tried to find some info during the day and book a table for the evening in one that could adapt some of their menu options. In one pub in Gairloch we actually found out that in a month's time they will have a whole menu for vegans! Such great news :-) And there was always an option of going for a veggie pizza (just ask for one without cheese).
What the trip showed is that with a little bit of preparation, lots of good will and determination, you can travel as a vegan as well. Before I used to say that no, it's impossible, I'm kind of excused when away... But I've recently realised that if I don't ask for vegan options, people will never know that this type of market is growing, that people are becoming more aware about their food choices. So the final message to myself and all those of you that want to take it :-) is - don't be afraid to follow your beliefs even when travelling, don't be afraid to spread the word about cruelty-free food (lots of people asked us "why" and it's a perfect opportunity to draw others' attention to animals, health, planet, etc. Who knows, maybe the seed will fall on ready ground :-)), and don't find excuses! If you want it, you will do it :-)
Two approaches to sightseeing Stirling, two approaches to life ;-) Crazy vs calm, spontaneity vs reason...
Road trips give us so much freedom!
Unspoilt, majestic, powerful nature.
Urquhart castle over Lochness.
That could be my retirement house ;-)
So nice to see animals enjoying themselves. Just sad to think what will happen to them any minute...
Blair castle near Pitlochry.
Ullapool - the highest point we reached in the Highlands.
Isle of Skye
Isle of Skye harbour.
And last but not least, we found Nessie ;-)!