I’ve always wanted to visit the Highlands of Scotland. Already being so close and having family in the region, we figured the time was right, even if the weather most likely wouldn’t be.

My aunt is from Wales and while she moved to the US years ago, her sister has migrated north to Helmsdale, a tiny town on the east coast in the far north of Scotland. It is way up there.

helmsdale, scotland - Google Maps - Google Chrome 1292013 74144 PM

On November 9th, we headed north from Edinburgh on a beautiful train ride. Turns out we were just in time to still catch the changing leaves.

View from Train to Inverness

In Inverness, we were met by Ian and after a quick detour to Loch Ness, we made the 2 hour drive north to Helmsdale. No sighting of Nessie, but the loch was beautiful. 

Loch Ness

On our first day in town, Chris and Ian were showing us around the Helmsdale harbor when the local rowing team started hauling their boat into the water for a Sunday afternoon practice session. After a chat, they offered us the opportunity for a quick spin and Chris & I jumped in.

Rowing in Helmsdale

Rowing is big in the UK and I had been hoping for a chance to give it a go. No time like the present. We spent a lot of our time in the Highlands taking walks in beautiful countryside and beaches with Chris, Ian and Sky.

All of us on a walk

Daryle and Sky

Beach at Crakaig

And sometimes these walks even ended in views of fairytale castles.

Dunrobbin Castle

Being November, quite a lot of tourist destinations were closed, but we were still able to visit a whisky distillery

Glenmorangie Distillery

and to make a trip even further north to the northernmost point in the mainland UK – Dunnet Head, to John O’Groats and to catch a glimpse of the Duncansby Stacks even though it was too windy to hike closer.

Dunnet Head

View from Dunnet HeadJohn O'Groats

John O'Groats

Duncansby Stacks