Scotland Trip 2022 Part 1: Overview

Back when I was in my 20s I traveled with my parents and oldest nephew, who was around 12, to the British Isles. We hit England, Wales and (Republic) Ireland. My parents had been before, so I chose a lot of the sites that we visited. Most of the places I suggested were ancient sites, so we visited chamber tombs, long barrows, standing stones, stone circles, etc. Some were so little visited that we followed narrow cow paths… But it was fun.

That trip was the start of a tradition for my parents. They took all of their grandchildren, and later, great-grandchildren, on an overseas trip when they were 10 to 12.

And I had traveled overseas quite a few times in those years, but never to the British Isles.

Fast forward 30 years from that first trip. My grand-nephew Liam had reached the magical age. My parents had decided they really didn’t need any more international travel, so Liam would be the last, despite Howl coming up, though perhaps he could come along as well. Why not? Well, as long as a parent (my nephew) came along to help with the 3 year old. (10 year old Liam is in photo below – yes, with his magic wand in the ancient tombs)

As the last trip, my parents thought “Scotland”.

One thing, my two nieces, Rikki and Renee, had bought my parents a couple of square feet of land in Scotland, making them Laird and Lady of those two feet. Visiting their “realm” was at the top of their list, so the two women wanted to join them. That is the four of them on that special piece of property.

And then my sister, the parent of the three adults traveling with my parents, said she wanted to go.

It didn’t take long from there to grow so the entire McDonald family was going to visit the homeland of their MacDonald ancestors.

And I would bookend my parents overseas outings with grand/great-grand-kids, both on the British Isles.

In the end, 18 of us traveled. We ranged in ages from 3 to 89.

Itinerary.

Most of us got in Saturday morning and had a free day in Edinburgh. My plane was almost three hours late, so a tiring flight (we left after midnight!), but still a good day.

After a stop at the airport to pick up the rest of the travelers, we went to Stirling Castle. Even though there was only 18 of us, we had a huge tour bus to ourselves. Not long enough at Stirling, we drove through beautiful countryside to Mallaig to catch a ferry to the Isle of Skye. The ferry was cancelled… We hung out in Mallaig for an hour, then retraced our steps to Fort William before turning north and hitting the bridge to Skye.

We explored Skye the next day. We had a tour guide for the day who told us some of the history of the places we say, but concentrated on Flora MacDonald, who we are sure is an ancestor ;) We did a big loop up to The Sky Museum of Island Life (Flora’s grave is at the same location), we drove back down to the opposite end and visited Armadale. It was closed, but we got the museum curator to open up for our group and give us a personal tour of the MacDonald museum and castle.

The next day we traveled to Inverness, making many stops along the way, including Eilean Donan Castle.

The next day was Loch Ness cruise, a visit to Urquart Castle, a distillery tour and an afternoon in Inverness.

The next day was a long day of travel to the Glencoe area with several stops along the way, such as Clava Cairns and the Highland Folk Museum. We ended up in Tyndrum where a few of us finally got a little hiking in after dinner.

The next day was Oban, the Highland Titles Nature Reserve (where my parents two square feet are) and then finally a short hike in Glencoe and some nice views.

The next day was back to Edinburgh, with a few stops. We saw the Military Tattoo at Edinburgh Castle in the evening.

We had a free day in Edinburgh, which we (three of us) started with a get-on-get-off bus tour. We saw some museums, etc.

Last day our flight was delayed again, so more exploring the city before flying home.

Conclusions, Posts, etc.

The trip was great, despite the fact that we all got Covid. My dad was the first one sick and the hardest hit, but he still enjoyed most of the trip and was feeling good enough to walk up to the Tattoo. (I had a slightly scratchy throat, but no other symptoms).

I do need to go back! When I go again, it will be a much smaller group. I want to see more ancient sites. I want to spend more time hiking. I’d love to go to Orkney. Hmmm, actually I’d like to spend a couple of summers there… I like jacket weather in August – beats the 95 F/35 C that it was in New Hampshire while we were away!

Anyway, I am going to do a series of posts over the next week or two. I will make the links go hot as soon as they are posted:

Part2: Isle of Skye
Part 3: Highlands (Hills and Old Villages)
Part 4: Castles
Part 5: Clava Cairns
Part 6: Glencoe
Part 7: Military Tattoo

I hope you enjoyed this little taste of Scotland! be sure to visit again as more posts full of photos are put up!

And here I am, in the jacket I mentioned earlier and in hat I always wear :)

77 thoughts on “Scotland Trip 2022 Part 1: Overview

    1. trentpmcd Post author

      The big family trip worked much better than I expected! I would love to spend a few months there, perhaps every summer for a few years…. I’m not too sure about winters, though I think even if they are much darker, winters in Glasgow are better than in New Hampshire! Yep, a do again destination.

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  2. Prior...

    Enjoyed your photos from this wonderful trip
    And jacket weather in August has perks and the closing photo is a good one
    But the top photos for me today were the flowers ! Wow – especially the OpenIng one and the closing one – the color and vibrancy is really good

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    1. trentpmcd Post author

      With Scotland I had to open and close this with Thistles ;) It was in the mid-90s in New Hampshire most of the time we were gone and I am so glad I missed it! I’ll take jacket weather!
      Thanks, glad you enjoyed the photos.

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  3. Natasha

    That sure is a lovely trip with the entire family, Trent.
    How wonderful it must have been to go back to your roots. For some reason I always thought you were British, though I hadn’t read it any where. :)

    I visited Edinburgh as a 5 year-old. And we lived in New Castle for sometime too. I can’t wait to go back too some day.
    I really wish to visit Greece, Egypt, Galapagos islands and the Amazon Rain forests too some day, among many others. One life and so many places to see!

    I’m sorry you all got Covid, but the good thing is everyones on the mend.

    Such stunning vistas and views. Cant wait to catch up on rest of the posts.

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    1. trentpmcd Post author

      The name “Trent” is more British than Scottish, and I most likely have more English blood than Scottish, but there is something about Scotland – maybe it is just that “McDonald/MacDonald” name.
      I have a long list of places I want to visit at some point – of those you mentioned, Greece is at the top. My parents have been to all of those, and some of them with grand kids (nephews of mine). Yes, my rocket scientist nephew (really) wanted to go to the Galapagos at 12! Seeing the Himalayas is on my list, and seeing some of your photos… yes, I am a mountain person.
      Havign so many get Covid was bad, but nobody regrets goign and everyone had a great time.
      Thanks, glad you’ve enjoyed the photos so far :)

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      1. Natasha

        Gosh! Love the sound of rocket scientist for a nephew. :)

        And did you have the Old McDonald’s farm too? :)))) Kidding.

        I can’t wait to go to Turkey now. Have you been there yet?

        You will love the Himalayas. I can share a list of places you must go when you come by here. Just an email away: natashawrites@gmail.com

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  4. Ju-Lyn

    An amazing trip, Trent! It’s quite funny how the enthusiasm was infectious & so many of you ended up going!
    So sorry to hear that you all got Covid in the process, but am glad that it didn’t stop you from enjoying your time together.
    I love seeing snippets of familiar sights – brings back very good memories of our trips there. We have meant to go back all these years but somehow never have managed as we are typically in London to spend Christmas with family (not a great time of year to tour Scotland).

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    1. trentpmcd Post author

      It was a great visit despite getting Covid. It was nice spending time together.
      Funny, one thing I didn’t say was that when I had visited England with my parents, we flew into London on the 26th of December (not quite Christmas, but Boxing Day), though we were in Ireland for New Year’s Eve (we spent it at a castle). But, yeah, Scotland might be nasty that time of year! I hope you do make it back to Scotland.

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    1. trentpmcd Post author

      Thanks. I did enjoy Skye, but I’d love to visit a lot of the other major Scottish islands, like the Outer Hebrides and Orkney. A boat trip like that sounds wonderful.

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    1. trentpmcd Post author

      Thanks, Charlotte. No, I did not see the Kelpies at night – we saw them the same day that we wen to the Tattoo. We spent most of our time in the Highlands and just did a quick drive through that area, coming and going. I’m sure you do love your time in Scotland! Such a beautiful country.

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  9. Rowena

    Wow, Trent! How special is this and reading your story inspires me to try and see my extended family, which I haven’t seen for two years thanks to covid.
    I have some ancestors who come from Islay…the Johnstons. I’ve done so much research, but haven’t been able to get over there thanks to my health issues and the kids .I’ve been fairly well and the kids are growing up and we’re planning a trip in two years’ time.
    Hope your week goes well.
    Best wishes,
    Rowena

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    1. trentpmcd Post author

      It was an interesting trip with such a big group of family members, btu fun. It is fun to discover your roots, and I am sure if you don’t find them on Islay, you may just find some excellent whiskey ;)
      Hopefully you do make it in 2 years, or some day.

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    1. trentpmcd Post author

      I’d love to visit Orkney some day! It is a little out of the way, but I am sure worth it.
      It was interesting traveling with so many, and such a diverse (at least in age) group. It actually turned out really well and we all had a great time, despite the Covid.

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  10. Janet Alcorn

    So, so jealous! Glad you had a good trip in spite of COVID and flight delays. And like you, I’d want to see the ancient sites, but that’s probably because I’ve read the entire Outlander series… multiple times :-)

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    1. trentpmcd Post author

      Outlander was never at the top of my TBR pile, but I think that will soon change – just about every place we visited had some connection either to Outlander or Harry Potter, and usually both. Seeing all of the people, one after the next, touching to tallest stone at Clava Cairns was funny.
      Yeah, even with Covid and flight issues, it was a great trip, much better than I would expect with 18 of us!

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  14. Pingback: Scotland Trip 2022 Part 3: Highlands: Hills and Villages | Trent's World (the Blog)

    1. trentpmcd Post author

      The trip was great, despite Covid! We missed a few popular places, but I think most of the places we did hit are pretty well traveled, and for good reason – they are either very beautiful or have interesting history.

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  15. KL Caley

    What an amazing family vacation. Great post. We are on the Isle of Skye at the moment. It’s been a bucket list location for many years. I really liked the museum of Island life, especially all the stories and legends. KL ♥️

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    1. trentpmcd Post author

      You are there now?! Wow, what a coincidence. I wish we could have visited the Museum of Island Life for longer – a few of us went in, but there wasn’t time to do it and visit the cemetery as well. We did stop at the Highland Folk Museum, which is a similar idea, and had a lot of time to explore, but if I go back I’ll have to make sure I visit the one on Skye.
      Enjoy the rest of your travels!

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  16. Pingback: Scotland Trip 2022 Part 2: Isle of Skye | Trent's World (the Blog)

    1. trentpmcd Post author

      Thanks. Traveling together worked out a lot better than expected. Traveling with my parents will be memories that everyone will keep forever – very special for the kids in the group, as well as us older adults. I am sure that trip with your grandparents is like that, a very special memory you and your family will always cherish.

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  17. Maria

    What a wonderful family tradition! I was thinking of giving my nephew one off those land titles for his graduation earlier this year! Everything about this trip, except the Covid, sounds absolutely wonderful. I understand that you want to go back. It’s very special to visit places where your ancestors once lived. I believe it does something to ones person to have that experience (especially for a young person.) My daughter’s grandma was born in northern Thailand, and I might take her there one day. Thank you for sharing your adventures. Looking forward to seeing the other posts in the series.

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    1. trentpmcd Post author

      The land titles is a great idea for conservation – an acre is over 43,000 square feet, so a lot of people to have to buy out to do anything to the land! I may get some myself.
      It was a wonderful trip, even with the Covid. Besides being a beautiful country full of a lot of the types of things that I like to explore, you are right, there is that connection with the ancestors.
      Although my parents did a lot of travel on their own and with charities, the tradition of traveling with grandchildren and great-grandchildren brought them all over, from China to the Galápagos Islands. And then my mom took all of the female family members (my sisters, sister-in-laws, etc) to Thailand. I’m sure it would be a wonderful experience to take your daughter there!

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  18. Shannon

    Scotland is my absolute favorite place to visit! It sounds like you had a great time, and how fantastic to have so many generations travel together! (I also fully intend to buy a few feet of land to rule over now!)

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    1. trentpmcd Post author

      I didn’t realize how beautiful Scotland is until I was there – it is great place to visit! And then, I am into ancient sites, so there are tons of those. And family history. What’s not to love? I think it is now my new favorite place to visit! The multi-generation, large group thing worked out a lot better than expected. The square foot thing is a great way to preserve the land – with an acre being over 43,000 square feet, it would be a lot of people to buy out to be able to do anything “useful” (destructive)! I might buy some as well.

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  19. Suzanne@PictureRetirement

    Trent, what a special trip with your family. Kudos for traveling with 18 family members. No way I could do that! I agree with your conclusion to return for a summer or two. It is such a beautiful country and there is so much to explore. Your photographs are beautiful – you should use your camera more often!! You definitely know what you are doing.

    It seems as if there is no hiding from Covid. Glad your family has recovered. Nasty stuff.

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    1. trentpmcd Post author

      It was a great trip and traveling with 18 was much smoother than I expected. When we stopped we are all able to go our own ways and split off into smaller groups – often different for each stop, so it made it easier. It is a very beautiful country and we didn’t even begin to scratch the surface, so a return visit is a must.
      I do love photography and enjoy takign photos, even if going through 1000 vacation photos can be very time consuming. In the past I posted many more photos. These days it is mostly of osprey. Earlier this year I did three posts on a new telephoto lens.
      I don’t think anyone thought we’d get Covid while traveling, but, yeah, it is still out there. With all of our shots and such, we weren’t hit too hard.

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  20. msjadeli

    Trent, your pics are eye-poppingly (eye popping of the best kind) wonderful. It looks like Scotland is one big rock? A rough place to live that makes any life there tough. Scary that everybody got covid. Tough on older folks especially. Glad your dad made it through ok. Will be looking forward to future installments.

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    1. trentpmcd Post author

      Thanks! Yes, a pretty rocky place. We stayed pretty much in the Highlands, and I guess I didn’t realize that “Highlands” really does mean “Mountains”! OK, there are peat marshes and such, but a lot of rocks and mountains, and all of the land looks pretty rough. Rough, but beautiful.
      We have been worried about my dad since Covid first hit, so I am happy that when he did get it, it wasn’t worse than it was. It is scary that most of us got it, but most of us also had very mild cases, and for me it was like light allergies.

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    1. trentpmcd Post author

      Despite the covid it was wonderful! I’m ready to return ;) Thanks!
      (Just a quick fyi – I am starting to create a bucket list of places I haven’t been or places were I really want to return. Funny thing is that Greece has been in the top 3 or 4 for decades and I still haven’t made it. Maybe next trip?)

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