Driving To Scotland: Highland Heather Lodges

It’s a bit of an understatement to say that Michael and I were excited for our first trip to Scotland…

After spending the first few months of our lives in the UK trying to get our bearings and making a home for ourselves in Castleton, we both decided that it was high time we took a drive up to Scotland and experience the famous Highlands. Michael has always had a particular affinity with Scottish culture; he loves drinking Scotch whiskey, golf is his favourite sport and he’s fascinated by this unique country’s history. After he’s had a few Scotches he’s also quite partial to listening to traditional Scottish folk music, so I think he had a few more expectations than I did.

Our plan was simple: we would take our time and spend a whole day travelling the 280 miles to the Highlands, stopping off along the way whenever we fancy and making sure to take plenty of coffee pitstops. You might be able to take the Americans out of the States, but it can be very tricky to take the States out of the Americans; Michael and I love nothing more than taking a leisurely drive into the countryside, punctuated with plenty of stops for tea, cakes and coffee. We’re always told by our new English friends that our American food is so unhealthy, but I swear we’ve been putting on a lot of weight since we settled here in the UK!

The drive was simple enough and took us up through the North West of England, an area that neither of us have explore. After a day of relaxed driving, highlighted by some breathtaking scenery through the Lake District, we found ourselves crossing the border. As soon as we passed the ‘Welcome to Scotland’ sign, Michael and I did a little whoop and started ‘peeling our eyes’ for kilts and Highland cattle. Of course, we had to wait a while before we could even tell that we were in a different country! The landscape changed imperceptibly, at the same rate that sun was setting, in fact, so by the time we arrived at Highland Heater Lodges we knew that we were deep into the Highlands, but could not see them at all!

There can’t be too many private holiday lodges in Perthshire with hot tubs, this was the main reason why we chose Highland Heather Lodges. They only have four holiday properties on the site, each of which offers a slightly different style of holiday lodge. There are two bedroom lodges for families looking to relax together, or cosy one bedroom lodges, idea for couples like us who are just looking for somewhere to stretch out after a day of hiking and exploring. Our lodge was called Ruchill and made for the perfect base for us to travel out from. We didn’t hop in the hot tub that night, preferring instead to get a good night’s sleep.

When we woke up, we were truly surprised to see such beautiful scenery all around us. Although it was only 9am, we couldn’t resist hopping the hot tub – what a perfect way to start a holiday!

An Introduction: Leaving the States…

They say that you can only make so many big moves in your life.

When Angie and I first decided to move to England we were fully prepared for what would be one of the biggest culture shocks of our lives. When we first mentioned it to our kids they laughed at us. We were two sexagenarian Americans who, despite our love for British culture, had spent our entire lives in the States. The thought that we would uproot ourselves from everything that we knew to live out the rest of our lives in a foreign land was, understandably, laughable to our children. It wasn’t until we all met up in person at Thanksgiving that they realised how serious we were.

Although we were a close family, we had spent the last few years in separate states, only meeting for major holiday events. We love our children dearly, but when they had children of their own they naturally had less time to catch up with us. We tried our best to visit them in their respective towns, but these visits were uneven. We wanted to spend time with our grandchildren, but we were also drawn to our dream of leaving the country and, in the end, it was the latter desire that won.

In March of this year we sold up our home and made the move to the UK. Leaving our family home of over 40 years had been a hard task, ideally we would have had one of the kids take the place over, but by the time we wanted to leave they’d settled themselves down so far away from New Hampshire that asking one of the to return home would have simply been cruel. The money we reaped from the sale (as well as some savings) bought us our home in Castleton, a little village in the Hope Valley. Leaving Manchester, NH was always going to be difficult, especially when it involved leaving so many of our treasured pastimes back in the States.

Arriving in our new home in Castleton was like starting a completely new life. We had new neighbours, a new community to be a part of and the massive gorgeous expanse of the Peak District to explore. In short, although we were both in our mid-sixties and had less life in front of us than behind us, we were both completely invigorated by the experience. Invigorated…and tired! We spent the first few days slowly unpacking and getting out home in shape. Our little 3-bed cottage had everything that we needed for us to get by and although we felt like we were in the middle nowhere, the supermarket was only a 15 minute drive away.

From March to June we settled in, pottered around the garden and took day trips out to different corners of the Peak District, but it wasn’t long before we were discussing our next big adventure. Although we knew that the big cities of London, Manchester and Liverpool were high on our list, there was one place that had dreamt about travelling to for an even longer time: Scotland.