It’s nearly Summer, and during this exam season, I thought that it would be a great time to look back to perhaps more easy-going times of the year (such as the Summer Holidays which are only in a matter of weeks away for most of us now… yes, I sure am counting!! 😜).
Last year I went on holiday with my family to Scotland and it was my first time there. We stayed in Dundee, which is roughly 40 miles north of Edinburgh. I must say – I had a few reservations about staying in Dundee, as apparently it’s the most nationalistic Scottish city, so many of the people there want independence from the rest of the UK! 😞 This has been especially the case since Brexit had been announced, as every Scottish constituency, I believe, voted to remain in the EU (I’m with you on that, Scotland!), and now the SNP (Scottish National Party) wants a second independence referendum, so exciting times!! It really interested me, particularly as I have a personal interest in politics and that I am planning to study Government & Politics next year, in my third year of Sixth Form. Anyways, it wasn’t actually that severe as I thought it could have been: I only saw the odd independence sticker dotted around in prominent places, such as crossings in the city centre, so it was fine really!
I thoroughly enjoyed my time there, learning about the differences between Scotland and England which I didn’t really know about before this trip! We packed a lot into the week during which we were in Scotland (including visits to many castles! 🏰), so I hope you enjoy reading about everything we got up to!
Day 1: Travelling to and settling in Dundee
This was quite possibly the longest train journey I had ever embarked on: from our local railway station, Nottingham, to Dundee railway station it took over 6 hours, including 3 changes. However, I really enjoyed the journey, as we travelled through some spectacular scenery, and I saw landmarks/cities which I had never seen before on the way – including, but not limited to, the Angel of the North, Durham and Newcastle. As a southerner, I found this quite a novelty, as I don’t very often travel much further north in Britain beyond Ripon (in North Yorkshire), where the summer camp I go to is held every year. After we changed trains at Edinburgh, to start our final leg of the journey to Dundee, we crossed the Forth Bridge, which (fun fact!) is an example of a pioneering piece of engineering and is even listed as a UNESCO world heritage site. When we got into Dundee (finally!) we explored for a bit, and walked along the banks of the River Tay, and also contemplated the really impressive new architecture that they’re constructing in the city. Another fun fact: Dundee is the UK’s UNESCO City of Design this month!
Day 2: St. Andrews
For our first full day in Scotland we decided to visit the beautiful historic town of St Andrews, which was in fact only a bus journey away from the centre of Dundee! Whilst we were there we visited the ruins of its cathedral and castle, walked along the lovely beach there and sampled some delicious gelato from an award-winning ice cream shop, called Jannetta’s.
Day 3: Dundee
On day 3 we didn’t actually venture out further than Dundee. In the morning I went to the University of Dundee‘s open day (we timed our holiday to Scotland so I could do this), as they offered a course which I was interested in. However, after much consideration I decided that Scotland is perhaps a little too far away from home for me personally to go to university! I’m still glad I went, though.
In the afternoon we had just enough time to have a look around the ship RRS Discovery, which was the ship on which Captain Scott and Ernest Shackleton travelled, for their epic journey to the Antarctic. Both the accompanying exhibition and the ship itself really did give a good insight into what life would have been like on the expedition, as well as all the logistics involved in such a complicated endeavour (most of which I didn’t even think about before that day!). I would definitely recommend visiting RRS Discovery, if you ever find yourself in Dundee or nearby!
Day 4: Stonehaven, Aberdeenshire
Although we didn’t visit Aberdeen itself, we did visit Dunnottar Castle, located near a little town in Aberdeenshire, Stonehaven, south along the coast from Aberdeen. It was a beautiful sunny day and although the walk from Stonehaven Station was pretty long (several miles!) it was every bit worth it, as the views of Stonehaven, the castle and the coastline were absolutely gorgeous, and we really had time to relax and take in the atmosphere!
Day 5: Glamis Castle, Forfar
The third castle we visited on our Scottish holiday (yes, I did keep a count!) was Glamis Castle, which was the childhood home of the mother of our Queen Elizabeth II, aka the Queen Mother. We had a tour of the castle, which had a pretty impressive interior (although unfortunately we weren’t allowed to take any photos inside 🙁), and we then had cream tea in the tea rooms, followed by a short amble in the castle’s grounds. I’d say that this is definitely another must-see if you’re in this general part of Scotland!
Day 6: Edinburgh 😍
This was definitely our busiest and most exciting day (in my opinion) of our holiday! I absolutely fell in love with the city! I think it’s kind of like London, but more relaxed and definitely with a strong Scottish vibe (understandably, as it’s the capital city of Scotland)! It was such a lovely place to explore, and highlights of our day there included walking in the Princes Street Gardens, visiting the Scottish National Gallery, walking along Edinburgh’s Royal Mile and looking around Edinburgh Castle. Even though we spent the whole day in Edinburgh (pretty much) I still, however, didn’t feel as though I had seen anything like all of it, so my advice to anyone wanting to visit Edinburgh is to definitely allow at least two whole days if you want to see it in-depth!
Day 7: Climbing a volcano
We decided to have a more chilled final full day, as we knew we had a long journey ahead of us the next day. We had a stroll in Dundee’s Magdalen Green and alongside the River Tay. Following this, we paid a visit to Dundee’s transport museum (not usually my scene, but it was actually more interesting than I expected it to be!), and we then climbed Dundee’s extinct volcano and ancient settlement, Law. We left this touristy thing until last, and I’m glad that we did, as we could look out onto the whole city of Dundee and identify all of the places we had visited during the past week – a lovely final activity concluding our holiday. Law quite an interesting site to visit, and it included a memorial to the fallen in both the First and Second World Wars.
Day 8: Going home
The day when we had to depart then arrived and we started our long journey down south back home to Notts. “Post-Scotland blues” were definitely lessened, however, by our much scenic train journey! 😊
Thanks for reading my blog post on my holiday in East Scotland! I absolutely loved it (in case you couldn’t already tell! 😜), and I’d love to visit Scotland again in the future, particularly the West side and the islands! All the planning I did on what to visit beforehand was definitely worth it, as we could really make the most out of our time there!
Have any of you been to Scotland? If so, I’d love to know whereabouts, what you visited and how you found it!
Let me know what you think of this post!
mar sin leat (which is Scottish Gaelic for goodbye, apparently!)