August 31, 2018

Hey there, OTBT wanderers!

It’s Ashley – OTBT’s Content Media Coordinator and all-around travel junkie. If anyone had ever told me I would travel 1,500 miles through one country in only 10 days, I probably would have looked at them like they were crazy! Turns out, much to my surprise, I tend to embrace that kind of off-the-beaten-track adventure.

This summer, I was able to experience the adrenaline trip of a lifetime through Scotland. You may be asking, “Why Scotland?” Well, I’ve had a deep love for northern Europe for as long as I can remember, and I’ve always longed for a chance to experience the UK. So after visiting Ireland just two years ago, Scotland was immediately added to top of my travel bucket-list.

My boyfriend and I impulsively booked a flight, packed our travel backpacks, and hit the ground running for a 10-day, 5-region, island-hopping adventure. Our fuel for the week was amazing Scottish food (too many plates of fish and chips to count!) and a variety of Scotch. And if you haven’t been educated on the production of Scotch and its cultural relevance, trust me - it is well worth the experience and tastings.

We started in Edinburgh and spent two days enjoying the food, smells, and culture. One of my favorite activities was visiting Edinburgh Castle. From there, you can see the whole city, as well as learn a ton of history about Scottish Royalty. My favorite section was seeing Queen Mary of Scotts’ Crown Jewels!  Because I love doing unconventional activities when I travel, we took a morning to go to Seacliff and went horseback riding along the coast. The scenery was beyond breathtaking and looked like something straight out of a movie.

The next day we got on the opposite side of the highway in our little Vauxhall Corsa (or “the go-kart,” as we fondly called it) to hit the Speyside region of Scotland. There we had a chance to try Speyside region whisky, as well as stay the night in a historic castle. The next morning, after a traditional Scottish breakfast of black pudding, haggis, and the works, we began the drive to Isle of Sky. We stopped first at the Loch Ness, where I walked the pebbled beach in my OTBT Snowbird sneakers. These shoes were an excellent choice for the trip – they were extremely lightweight, easy to carry in my backpack, and comfortable enough for any walking and exploring we decided to do for the day. The fun pink color made them a hit with any person I met, and they made me feel more fashionable in my simple travel clothes.

When we drove across the bridge to Isle of Sky, I could definitely see why this location is ranked as one of the most spectacular places to visit in the world. With its beautiful rugged landscape and sea that stretches for miles, it really feels like you have stepped into another realm.

Our days in Skye were filled with nature sightseeing and lots of hiking! I’m pretty sure we clocked an average of 10+ miles, according to my Apple Watch. During this time, we visited the beautiful Quiraing overlook, Fairy Pools and Old Man Stor. For these days, I wore my Commuter hiking boots from OTBT’s Outdoor explorer collection. These shoes were the absolute perfect choice for our excursions. The grip on the sole kept me steady, especially when we were dealing with very high, rough and rocky terrain. The footbed was comfortable, and my ankles had plenty of support. Best of all, I once again felt cute and fashionable with the sporty white stripe on these boots! These were heavier than my Snowbird sneakers, but they were a complete essential and well worth the extra weight in my backpack.

After our three days in Skye, we once again jumped in our car and traveled south to Campbeltown. Here we stopped at the historic Glen Scotia Distillery and caught a sea ferry to the island of Islay. We stayed in a B&B in a tiny town called Port Ellen. This was such a massive change from the hustle and bustle of Edinburgh, as the entire island has only 3,228 inhabitants. During our stay, we traveled to the extremely remote and world-renowned distillery, Lagvulin. (If you are a Parks and Rec fan, you’ll recognize it as the place where Ron Swanson went in Scotland.) Islay is known for strong peated whiskey and a warm family welcome with 8 different distilleries on the island. This was a location I wish we had a chance to explore more, even though it was so remote.

We wrapped up our trip by heading back to Edinburgh from the Island of Islay. On our way back, we stopped by Stirling Castle and saw the newly restored “The Hunt of the Unicorn” tapestry that was originally hung in the 14th century, during James V’s rule. Before ending the night, we hiked up to the William Wallace Monument and took in the gorgeous view of the city.

Scotland was a beautiful country with amazing food, fantastic spirits, and kind, welcoming people. The country is loaded with lore, legend, castles and beautiful rolling countryside with sheep galore. It really makes you believe in magic and see the world in a different way then you have ever seen it before. Fifteen-hundred miles flew by on this trip, and yet was stagnant all at the same time. It was a pure pleasure to roam freely throughout this great country and travel in true OTBT style.

Want to learn more about my trip and the awesome country of Scotland? Leave us your questions in the comments below!

'Til then, happy travels!

Ashley


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