Before I found out I was pregnant, we traveled extensively. It was actually one of our trade offs, we had struggled with fertility for almost a decade as a couple – but we embraced the financial and time freedom this gave us to pursue the things we wanted. In fact, I found out I was pregnant just a couple of days before a 14 day Mediterranean Cruise. Do those count as countries William has visited already I wonder?
Pregnancy wasn’t easy for me, with a whole host of high risk complications. Recovery has been slow, both mentally and physically and I’m not quite ready to be jet-setting off around the globe with a baby yet, even though relatives have been inviting us left right and center to the USA. For now, we’re sticking to domestic travels and why not? The UK has some amazing things to offer and whilst sitting on a white sandy beach, swimming with fish in crystal clear waters and having a waiter bring me a martini sounds very nice right now, sometimes I look at the country we have around us and realize I can have amazing experiences right here too.
2018 is our 10th wedding anniversary and 12 years since we first met in London. A Welsh chick and an American dude meeting in London and starting the adventure of a lifetime together – what are the odds? We sat down and had a good long chat about what we wanted to do to celebrate and something we kept coming back to was Scotland. Neither Ben or I have ever been to Scotland, yet I’ve been dreaming of Edinburgh for years. Some people might know that I work with reptiles and have worked in and out of private and public exotic animal collections all my life and I’ve heard amazing things about Edinburgh Zoo. Ben is from a heavy architectural background, with his parents running a successful architectural firm in the USA and he loves the architecture and history of the United Kingdom. Edinburgh has that in dollops. Finally, as we’re both in love with nature, countryside and wildlife in general – what better than scouting out the highlands afterwards?
Thus our 10th wedding anniversary plan was formed. 10 days in Scotland – starting with a weekend in Edinburgh and then exploring the Scottish Highlands.
Although this epic plan isn’t coming to fruition until our wedding anniversary in July, I’m a notorious Type A planner. I’m not the type of person who can grab a backpack and head off willy nilly. I have to plan it all out in advance and that’s especially important to me now with a baby. We discussed the possibility of leaving him at home – my mother would be happy for him to enjoy a holiday with her and I think he’d be fine, but ultimately we decided this is a family adventure even if he won’t remember it. We will. But there are definitely logistics you have to take into account when you’ve got a baby traveling with you. He’ll be 16 months, so I guess he’ll be a toddler then! Wow.
So without further waffle, here’s the rough outline of our plan!
|1||Cardiff to Edinburgh||~400 miles by car|
|Hotel with Spa!||4 star luxury country club, golf course & spa!|
|3||Exploring Edinburgh's Castle, City & Architecture|
|4||Driving to Cairngorms National Park||~130 miles by car|
|Holiday Cottage||Beautiful self catering accommodation|
|Highland Wildlife Park|
|5||Cairngorm Reindeer Herd|
|Cairngorm Mountain Railway||Lunch on top of the mountain!|
|6||Fort Augustus, Loch Ness & Urquhart Castle||Hunting Nessie!|
|7||Landmark Forest Adventure Park||Morning Playtime|
|Fort George, Inverness||Afternoon History|
|8||Balmoral Castle||Royal Residence!|
|9||Highlands to Chester with a stop at Loch Lomond for lunch||~366 miles by car|
|Spa Hotel in Chester|
|10||Chester Zoo & Home||~150 miles after the zoo and we're home!|
So that’s the plan at the moment – there will be over 1,000 miles of driving so I’m going to have to put every practical “road trip with kids” tip into use.
I’m so excited! Well… not about the 8 hour drive to get up there. We thought about flying but by the time we’d calculated all the things we’d need with a baby it just didn’t seem worth it. We’ve done long drives before (in fact, we regularly drive from Cardiff to Germany!) but never with the baby in the car.
If you’ve been to Scotland and have any recommendations for places to visit in these areas, leave me a comment and let me know what’s good. We’ll be looking for food recommendations too!