What’s the best way to see Scotland?

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Scotland Pano

If Scotland is on your list of places to see, you have a vast array of options in doing so. To get there your options are by sea or air, but once in the United Kingdom or Ireland your options become almost endless. Craving a slow paced, back to nature adventure? By foot and backpacking might be your best bet. Wishing for the wind rushing through your hair while being eco-friendly? Biking across the country and staying in bed and breakfasts would be the way to go. For those that want to see the country, but not at such a calorie burning rate, your options include rail, boat and car. Or, you could create a journey of all the above — with some in small doses. 

That’s what we did when we found ourselves in the Orkney Islands docked at Kirkwall. All the planning had pointed to this being the island that was best for biking in order to reach the Neolithic henge and stone circle known as the Ring of Brodgar.

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The owner of the bicycle shop had offered two choices for the day: an electric assist bicycle and just your run-of-the-mill bicycle. We chose the latter. Mistake #1. 

The owner also had a map of the best routes to take, depending on activity level desired. When we asked for the flattest path out to the Ring of Brodgar, we trusted his knowledge of his homeland and his equipment.

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Mistake #2.

Within the first mile of our journey, we came to an intersection that would allow us to choose the path that appeared to be less inclined or follow the path he had insisted was “easier”.

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We chose to follow his advice, even though we questioned it. We should have trusted our gut. Mistake #3.

It was sheer will and the repetition out loud of “I will not die on this hill today” that finally allowed us to feel the wind through our hair (that was tucked underneath our helmets) and enjoy the single downhill glide of the journey. A journey that brought us not to the Ring of Brodgar, but it allowed us to enjoy the best burgers in our entire lives from a roadside stand in the little wayside rest point where our downhill glide ended.

Kirkwall panographic image of meadow and loch

We followed the path back to port (and the bike shop) that we should have followed (trusting our gut) on our way out — gentle inclines but far fewer changes of scenery than we had come across in our ride out. Would the burgers have tasted as good had we not thought we wouldn’t live to see the end of the day? Maybe better. And we would have had them on our way back from making it to the stones. But we wouldn’t have had this story to tell or a reason to return. . . like we needed another reason.

Are the bagpipes calling you to Scotland? Call us to get started on creating your adventure — however you define it.