Written by: Anne Gavin
27 days until the adventure begins.
I don’t really know the exact time it struck me — when I decided to take this leap. You would think I would. But, it was a bit of a slow burn. Bingeing Outlander Season 1-A in an afternoon two years ago, then scouring the Internet for anything and everything Outlander and Scotland, ordering the audio books (and hard copies, too, as you have to have BOTH, right?), listening to Outlander podcasts, joining Outlander Facebook groups, heck — even applying to be a writer for an Outlander Blog. What? Honestly, my family did not know what to make of me and wondered if I was experiencing an early mid-life crisis. Maybe so, but if it was wrong, it just felt so damn RIGHT! Where it all led me was to plan the Trip of a Lifetime. In just 27 days, this Sassenach will head out for her very own Scottish Adventure. I hope you will join me as I endeavor to journal my travels — notwithstanding the wonkiness of Wi-Fi availability in the Scottish Highlands! Click past the jump to read the first excerpt of The Scotland Diaries — A Sassenach Abroad.
Where To Go, What To Do…
Once I made the decision to go, it was full steam ahead! But, my Facebook feed and head were clogged with possible options. To hire a Guide or not hire a Guide…THAT is the question! Traveling solo, I figured it was best to find a guide/tour that could make sure I don’t go too far astray either off the cliff of a Munro or off a stool at a pub. And, I didn’t figure I’d be much into driving myself around the craggy Scottish Highlands. So, a tour it was. But, there were so many! Which to choose?
What does any self-respecting social media fiend do? Find a Facebook Scottish Travel Group and start reading, commenting and making fabulous, adventurous, like-minded Facebook friends, of course! It wasn’t long before I identified a few tours that interested me. Long before My Peak Challenge, I had turned the corner on personal fitness. It’s important to me to MOVE even on vacation. Therefore, I wasn’t really interested in sitting on a bus with a bunch of blue-hairs (no offense lovely older people) and having someone with one of those obnoxious bus microphones, tell me about stuff as I stared out the window. And, so I found the Jamie & Claire Tour operated by MacKenzie Adventures. This sounded just right. A small group of travelers (15-17 hardy souls) where most time is spent hiking and following Jamie & Claire’s journeys throughout the Highlands. I like it. An active tour, lots of hiking and time experiencing the countryside and not inside a bus or a car. So active, in fact, that the tour requires disclosure of one’s Body Mass Index (BMI) and how long it takes you to walk a mile at a “brisk” pace. Serious stuff. I especially liked that the focus of the tour was going to be on Diana Gabaldon’s Book Series and not the Starz Television Show. I am slightly sensitive to the fact that I am a Johnny-Come-Lately to the Book Series. I love both, actually, and am just about to start Book 5. However, it was important to me that my first time in Scotland was informed by the Outlander Source Material — at least for my first week there. More on that later…
I confirmed my choice when I connected with a lovely lass from Pennsylvania who had taken this same tour last year. After some intense back and forth on Instant Message asking many questions and gauging the pros and cons of this particular tour, I decided this was, indeed, the tour for me. But, it’s only seven days and that’s not nearly enough time to spend after slogging across the pond at great expense. So, I took a leap of faith and booked my air travel for a grand total of 16 days in bonnie Scotland. The question then became what do I do for the additional 9 days after the end of my Jamie & Claire Tour? Still so many things I wanted to see and places I wanted to go that wouldn’t be covered in that first week. Thankfully, the handy Facebook Scottish Travel Group was my savior yet again. I was so fortunate to find the charming Catriona Stevenson from Slainte Scotland who created a custom, bespoke tour for me for several more days of making my dreams come true. It became apparent that the synchronicity and kismet associated with my happenstance stumble upon Catriona was truly a sign from the Outlander Gods. More on this in later diary entries…
After wrapping the Jamie & Claire Tour, I’ll travel from Edinburgh to Glasgow and meet up with Catriona. From Glasgow, we’ll head “over the sea to Skye” for a few days. We’ll do a distillery tour or two and even a Hill Walk — a must-do for me this trip. Thank goodness for Catriona’s patience, as well, as I have continued to “modify” my tour and suggest adding things that I want to do which may or may not include a trip to the mysterious Craig-na-Dun filming location. I understand this may require some fortitude (fueled by whisky, perhaps) to make the hike up that precipitous Fairy Hill. But, I figure if Claire can do it in 18th century garb then my North Face hiking boots and My Peak Challenge core of steel will make it easy-peasy! Towards the end of the adventure, I’ll throw in a few days with some Scottish friends – both new and old — and the trip will be packed to the brim. Scarcely time to breathe…
I invite you to come along with me on this journey and follow Outlander Cast Blog and my diary entries. It will mean so much to me to share my experiences with fellow Sassenachs, read your comments and answer your questions as I embark on my great adventure. I will have one or two more Pre-Trip diary entries so please subscribe to the Outlander Cast Blog by clicking here so as not to miss accounts of my adventures in Scotland and all the other amazing Outlander News and Original Content from my fellow Blog Writers.
Slainte until next time..
May 13-14 Edinburgh
May 15-17 Castles, Kirks, Cairns and Culloden
May 19-21 The Highlands Part 2
May 24-27 Over the Sea to Skye
May 27-30 The West Coast and Scottish Hospitality