This past January I had the opportunity to visit Scotland for the first time. And while visiting in the middle of winter might not sound the most appealing, the cold, grey days shed a fresh (if not frigid) light on the beauty that is the Scottish countryside. Despite the wet weather, it was easy to spot why so many people fall in love with this land.
On a bus tour from Edinburgh, I headed northwest into the Scottish countryside. Leaving Edinburgh’s bustling city center, I left the city behind to find myself amongst bubbling brooks and spooky forests.
At a pastel-pink bed & breakfast located in a small forest clearing famous for their cuisine as much as their friendliness, I tucked into a warm lunch set against views of the small lake and the surrounding forest. With a small terrier dog as my companion and a cozy fire burning in the corner, this was everything I imagined Scotland to be.
Sampling fine Scottish cheeses and local meats, our meal lasted hours. When the drizzling weather slowed to a stop, we ventured out into the forest to find a bubbling stream. The sound of rushing water and the dark, wet moss on the ground below our feet was comforting. Having only been outside of Edinburgh for a few hours, my venture out into the countryside felt like a shock to my senses. Time slowed down at Monachyle Mhor and it would only grow slower still over the next few days.
During my tour through the countryside, we stopped off frequently visiting scenic overlooks and panoramic viewpoints. Looking over lochs and standing in the middle of a valley, it was hard not to be impressed with the sights and sounds of Scotland. Things were quiet here and with limited phone reception, I spent my time looking out the bus window, or taking early-morning walks. I couldn’t pull my eyes off the countryside. From a distance, the world seemed vast and glorious. And up-close, with wet moss under my boots and flooded lakes washing over my hiking trails, the world may have seemed dreary but I could tell there was something magical here.
I’m not usually one for cold weather destinations, but Scotland’s grey, wet and dreary weather (in Scotland they use the word dreich) stopped me in my path. Not least because the Atlantic waters of Loch Fyne were flooded during my short visit. The many shades of grey and blue only emphasized the other colors of the Scottish countryside: the Tartan kilts, the grassy green knolls, the pastel-painted houses, the black slate and, of course, the amber whisky. Scotland might not seem like the most colorful place, but I’ve never been somewhere that felt so fresh.