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  1. #1

    Default A flying visit to Scotland

    Until the goverment get their way and tax them out of existence, the budget airlines are offering some ridiculously cheap weekend away opportunities right now. So I decided to take them up on their offer for a long weekend in Scotland. Once again the users of this site came through with help and tips so thanks for that guys!

    Day One
    The weekend didn't start well after a problem at the airport meant an eight hour delay :s Once I finally managed to convince airport security that the reason I was trying to get out of the secure area wasn't because I was a terrorist I decided to head down the south coast to kill some time and ended up in the Poole and Bournemouth area.

    It's been years since I've been down there and, despite the pouring rain and howling wind, it was quite pleasant to have a stroll along the coast for an hour or so. But I was getting annoyed at not being several hundred miles away so headed back to the airport via the newly designated New Forest National Park.

    Finally got into Glasgow just in time to pick up the rental car before their desk closed. I was distraught to find they only had a Fiat Panda left but, as it turned out, it was actually a really good little car! Okay, it doesn't do much for your street cred (!), but it was nippy as hell around town, screamed like a banshee when you redlined it and handled really well. Okay I'll stop with the Jeremy Clarkson impressions already... :)

    As I could have predicted weeks in advance it was cold, dark and wet (and now a whole lot later than it should of been thanks to the airline) so I decided to head to the hotel for a wash and brush up and some food before heading out for a quick look around. Having left the airport and headed down the motorway I was greeted with the helpful news that Erksine Bridge was closed due to the high winds that, only an hour previously, I was convinced was going to kill us all as the plane landed at 45 degrees to the runway!

    This inconvenience actually turned out to be a good thing as it meant I was forced to turn around and drive through Glasgow itself which I'd not been planning to do as, and no offence to the good people of Glasgow, it doesn't have the best reputation. That quick drive totally changed my opinion and I definately hope to visit again for a proper explore! The other thing that struck me about the city was how they all drive like maniacs there... I loved it, I fitted right in :)

    After leaving the city, and making a quick stop at a supermarket for some supplies, I ambled into the hotel to be greeted by a genuinely pleasant and helpful receptionist who was interested to hear why I was visiting the area. After chatting for a few minutes she kindly offered me the room on the top floor at the end of the corridor so I would get a good nights sleep.

    Splendid, I thought, until about 2am when my 'neighbours' arrived back and decided that 2am was a good time to re-enact Wrestlemania 18 in the corridor outside my door. When they finally finish that they then decided a post-event party was in order and proceeded to make more noise than the crowd at Charlotte after Dale Jr turned Jeff Gordon into the wall. For four hours. Delightful.

    Day Two
    I was planning on popping next door to the Little Chef for breakfast... I know, it's nothing to admit in public, but they'd been showing their massive breakfasts on the TV news for the past few days after they went bust, and they looked like something I needed to sample before the doors closed! But the previous evenings revelry had kept me awake and I couldn't drag myself out of bed until 930 so had to give it a miss and head off for the day.

    First stop was the Loch Lomond Shores development just on the outskirts of Balloch where the snappily titled Loch Lomond & Trossachs National Park Gateway Centre is located. Having previously wondered as to the differences between the UK and US national parks, I started to realise it pretty much comes down to the basics after taking the literature that I was given back to the car to digest. The NPS in the US produce some brilliant park guides and trail maps but, first impressions suggest, we don't come close in the UK.

    So I decided to disregard the map and headed off across country to Helensburg to start a drive around the edge of Gare Loch, past the intimidating Faslane Naval Base - home of the British Nuclear submarine fleet. I stopped to take a couple of photos of the Peace Camp opposite the site and was invited in for a cup of tea by the residents!

    The plan was to head onwards towards Tarbet before heading south along the edge of Loch Lomond but I decided to turn off left at Glenlochhead and do the loop route down the other side of Gare Loch so I could get a good view of Faslane before heading up the side of Loch Long. It was around here that I really started to settle into the peace and serenity of the area but something just seemed, I don't know, out of place about the whole thing.

    Having passed the Coulport Store it started to dawn on me that it was the way that the natural beauty of an area could be so scarred by the military. I could kinda see where the protesters I had spoken to earlier were coming from. Having left this behind in my rear view mirror I sped along a wonderfully challenging road and headed north to be greeted, as I turned a corner, by this sight. Wrong. Just wrong!

    A few more stops and a load of miles down the road I was back at Balloch and looking at the guides again. I'd seen a lot of water so I looked to the east and the hills of the Trossachs. A quick stop at a thoroughly unimpressive Balloch Castle was followed by a detour down a fantastic little road to the foot of Ben Lomond which was somewhat more of a success.

    Deciding I best press on I headed towards the Dukes Pass (another fantastic drive - I was even beginning to feel sorry for the poor little rental car!) and onwards towards Stirling.

    One thing that I had been looking forward to with this trip was to get out for a bit of a strenuous hike but, so far, I'd spent all day in the car due to a) the sheer amount of scenery to explore and b) the rain! But the weather finally started to clear up as I neared Stirling and, keen as I was to get a few snaps of the Forth Bridges in daylight, I couldn't resist yet another diversion to stop off at the Wallace Monument. A walk up the steep path from the parking lot to the monument itself provided me that opportunity to get the blood flowing. Excellent.

    The view from the top was excellent too and, despite he batteries in my camera running out (can you believe it!), I thoroughly enjoyed stopping off there.

    The light was fading and I was concious that I wanted to get a few snaps of the Forth Bridges before dark. I finally arrived there about an hour after dark :) but it was soon apparent that I had to find time to return tomorrow for some photos as it was simply spectacular at night... even if it didn't feel quite safe to be walking around after dark.

    Finally, after a long day, as you will appreciate if you are still reading this... Edinburgh. And the second bargain-priced Travelodge in two days. This one though was right in the centre of the city and was a real bugger to find! Eventually I found the hotel and happily pulled into the parking lot and checked in to my (rather small, but perfectly formed!!) room.

    Anyway, I should give you a rest from reading now, you must be tired! But if anyone is interested I will put some more up tomorrow.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jan 1998
    Las Vegas, Nevada

    Default The narrative is so fine!

    Quote Originally Posted by Craig Antill View Post
    Finally, after a long day, as you will appreciate if you are still reading this... Edinburgh.
    It just seemed like you were getting started. Thanks for the entertaining narrative and the photos!


  3. #3


    Had to drive up to Edinburgh for work last Friday and Saturday and, when I was crossing the Forth Bridge, I remembered that I never did get round to finishing this 'report'. Don't know if anyone is actually reading it, or not, but I thought it might be fun to relive the trip by detailing it here!


    Day Three
    The final day of this brief trip started horribly early - about 3am - with a tremendous crash and commotion outside my window. At that time of morning I should probably have woken with the belief that I was in the middle of Edinburgh's first ever earthquake but, no, it was a lot simpler than that... one of the dumpsters outside had been blown across the parking lot in a gust of wind and hit something. I knew instinctively that it was my rental car that it had hit and promptly went back to sleep.

    I don't know if it's possible to suffer from jetlag on a flight of 500 miles, but I seemed to be, once again I was late waking and missed breakfast! Having packed my gear back into my overnight bag, I took it to my car to be greeted with confirmation of what I'd suspected earlier that morning, a dirty great big dent in the passenger door and a nasty scratch running the length of the car. Great. I really wish I'd taken out that Super CDW at the airport now!!

    Having concluded that I wasn't going to hide it with a bit of mud, I decided to leave the car where it was and head off on foot towards Edinburgh Castle. I should confess that castles have never excited me all that much but, having seen it on TV and in travel guides, I had a real desire to see it for myself.

    The crowds of people, heading off to their places of work, were a real contrast to the solitude of the previous day but it did bring on that 'holiday feeling' - I do like being able to do my own thing whilst everyone else is having to endure another day at work! As I passed shops dedicated to selling tacky souveneirs, kilts and whisky I began to wonder where all the other tourists were, but then it dawned on me, it was a Monday morning in January, they all must have more sense than me.

    When I arrived at the castle I realised I wasn't the only nutter in town - there was dozens, no, hundreds of people queuing at the ticket window, amazing! Not as amazing though as the prices they were charging for admission which, in all honesty, were beyond amazing. A thesaurus might suggest outrageous as an alternative, I would tend to agree but, having walked all that way and climbed the steep hill up to the front door, I wasn't going to be put off, and I handed over my hard-earned.

    The castle itself was pretty impressive but I wasn't going to hang around for the One o'clock Gun to be fired, much as I'd have liked to have, so I satisfied myself with exploring the place and enjoying the commanding view of Edinburgh that it offered.

    I decided that the natural place to go next would be right to the other end of the historic Royal Mile and the Palace of Holyrood House. As time was limited, if I was to see everywhere I wanted to see, I decided to stop off at the hotel and pick up the car en route.

    I loved the contrast between Holyrood and the new Scottish Parliament building which had been built right across the street and decided that I must return another day to visit them both, as well as the Dynamic Earth exhibition. It truly was a great city to explore, I look forward to returning.

    Next was that elusive photo of the Forth Rail and Road Bridges which I finally got after wasting an hour retracing my steps of the previous evening. After deciding that I wasn't going to get a clear shot, I returned to the car and lucked upon an amazing viewpoint after taking a wrong turn! In search of a shot of the two bridges together, I decided to walk out to the end of a narrow slipway and was very lucky not to be blown straight into the Firth of Forth. I decided that was my cue to leave and headed off to the Falkirk Wheel which, to my disappointment, was closed on my arrival - after the flight delay and the damaged rental car, it summed up my luck perfectly.

    With a keen eye on the time, and the skies which seemed to be promising rain, I headed back towards the airport. On the way I saw a sign for Cumbenauld which intruiged me enough to leave the motorway and go visit. I wasn't sure why I knew the name but, as I drove into town, I remembered why - truly, truly dreadful!

    Back on the motorway I spotted another sign, this time to Ibrox Stadium, home to Glasgow Rangers Football Club and scene of the Ibrox Disasters. I was really glad that I had stopped, the place had a real atmosphere and history to it, though that might have been partly due to the group of four 'hoodies' who followed me around whilst I took a few photos, no doubt with their eye on my camera for themselves. Having hurried back to the car to avoid them, the heavens opened, they'd done me a real favour!

    With an hour in hand before I needed to return the rental car and check-in for my return flight, I decided to keep my fingers crossed that the agent from Hertz would not spot the damage inflicted by the dumpster and drove round to kill time until it was dark. With the weather completely horrible by this point, the agent didn't even bother to leave his desk, and I quickly boarded the shuttle bus back to the terminal, paperwork stating that the car had been returned in good condition firmly clasped in my hand... it hadn't been a bad weekend, all in all!

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jan 1998
    Las Vegas, Nevada

    Default I bet the rental firm was pleased?

    Quote Originally Posted by Craig Antill View Post of the dumpsters outside had been blown across the parking lot in a gust of wind and hit something. I knew instinctively that it was my rental car that it had hit and promptly went back to sleep.
    Yikes! Yeah, I have enjoyed reading this missive!


  5. #5


    Thankfully I never did hear from Hertz about that little incident. And they have agreed to rent me a car for my upcoming trip so, hopefully, it'll not come back to haunt me when I'm stood at their desk at the airport! This time I have arranged my own CDW/LDW cover with NO deductible LOL

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Keithville, LA

    Default Great Story!

    You do seem to get in trouble a lot, though. Between the dumpster incident and your run in Sebastian you sound like a scary person to road trip with. :)

    I really did like your tale of Scotland though. I could really imagine you going to all those places. You have a good way of giving a good blow by blow narrative of your comings and goings.


  7. #7


    Gee, thanks Laura, what you will notice, of course, is that neither was my fault... well the dumpster hitting my car wasn't anyway. I guess I really shouldn't have been hanging over pitwall AND looking away from oncoming traffic but, hey, did Seb REALLY have to veer towards me as he sped out of his pit box???! It reinforces everything I believe about the French!

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