Scotland, situated in the north of the UK, is a magnificent mix of culture, countryside, cuisine, clubbing and lots of other fabulous things beginning with C! Ruth Cochrane, founder of lovescotland.com has picked her perfect lesbian road trip across Scotland, especially for SheWired readers.
I lived in Glasgow, Scotland’s biggest city (or Glasgay as it is affectionately known by some) for four years, and absolutely loved it. It’s the kind of place that you can stand in the street looking a bit lost for a couple of minutes and someone will come over and ask if you need directions. They might even offer to show you the way, and it’s not unlikely that they’ll suggest going for a pint en-route. If they do, you should head for FHQ, uber-trendy, female gay bar/club where you’re sure to find some gorgeous Glasgay lassies eager to show you round their brilliant home town and the rest of its fantastic gay nightlife.
After a big night out on the town, the best way to keep your hangover at bay is with a hearty breakfast at the Trans Europe Cafe in the Merchant City area of Glasgow. Famous for its fabulous Sunday brunches and as one of the venues used for filming the new BBC drama, Lip Service, dubbed ‘the Scottish L-Word’
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Dykes in the countryside
Our next stop is a very special luxury hotel and award winning restaurant in the heart of the Trossachs National Park, which is about an hours drive from Glasgow. There is something about Monachyle Mhor that is difficult to put into words. Its unusual blend of the sophisticated and the traditional make it faintly intoxicating. Run by unbelievably talented and slightly eccentric chef Tom and his brother and sister, tucked away from the rest of the world in its own glen (or valley) Mhor has a setting that other venues can only dream about. But more than that, it’s the kind of place that makes you want to take your shoes off, curl up with your girl beside the fire and stay for a week. The Lewis family have such a passion for what they do, and where they do it, that they run all sorts of courses and activities to involve their guests in the MHOR experience. From Tom’s seafood cookery demonstrations, to farm manager Alan’s highland safaris, but my personal favourite is learning the ancient craft of Dry Stone Dyking (or building walls without cement), what could be a more appropriate pastime for the modern lesbian?!
Now I’ve lived in Scotland all my life. I grew up on stories of Haggis running round hill tops with two legs shorter than the others and of mysterious beasties living below the murky waters of Loch Ness. I’ve recounted these stories to tourists with as much relish as the next mischievous Scot, but I’m sure I’m not the only local (although I might be the only one who will admit it) who finds it impossible to drive along the shores of Loch Ness without quietly scanning the surface of the water for something unusual. I’ve never seen anything, no-one I know has ever seen anything, the sonar surveys and round the clock webcams have never found any conclusive evidence, but to me, that only means that Nessie is much smarter than we give her credit for! Whether you see the monster or not, the scenery is gorgeous and the ruins of Urquhart Castle which overlook the western shore, are well worth a visit. Take your binoculars, have your camera at the ready and watch out for 30-ft. monsters crossing the road in front of your car!
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Over the Sea to Skye
I don’t think there is a more romantic place in the world to take that special lady in your life than for a meal at The Three Chimneys. Visitors to the Isle of Skye find it hard to believe they will find one of Scotland’s very best restaurants in such a remote place as Colbost. But when they step inside the door to the candlelit interior with its thick stone walls, original fireplaces and low, beamed ceilings, they know that they have found somewhere worth making the journey to.
For me, it’s completely unique. Driving to this beautifully remote corner of Scotland, through some of the world’s most amazing scenery with my gorgeous girl beside me, to be welcomed with warm Scottish hospitality and what was quite simply the best meal I have ever eaten is an experience I will never forget. I highly recommend it!
Something else I will never forget is getting up close and personal with the resident colony of bottlenose dolphins in the Moray Firth. The largest dolphins in the world live in the North East of Scotland, and when 10 or 12 of them approached our boat I don’t think I’ve ever seen my girlfriend more excited. Grinning from ear to ear we watched as they played in the wake of the boat, jumping out of the water and showing off, to the delight of everyone on board. Sandi, who runs the Ecoventures, tells me that they sometimes see Minke Whales as well. We weren’t that lucky, but maybe you will be. Either way, it’s definitely worth the trip to make the acquaintance of Scotland’s answer to Flipper.
So after all the messing about in boats, what we really need is a nice warming drink. Luckily, we’re in exactly the right place. Just south of where the dolphins call home is one of Scotland’s premier whisky production areas. Now, my Dad would probably disown me for saying this (luckily, I don’t think he regularly reads SheWired) but I don’t think you can do better than a Speyside malt. My Dad’s more of an Island malt kind of a guy, he likes his whisky peaty, like Talisker or Lagavulin. But I’m a Benromach girl, I like my whisky just like my women, fruity, with just a hint of smoke!
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Surf St. Andrews
Ok, so it might be the birth place of golf and the home of Prince William’s university, but I can think of nothing better to do in St Andrews than squeeze into a wetsuit and brave the North Sea for an exhilarating few hours of Kite Surfing. With fabulous, long and un-crowded sandy beaches, long summer nights, clear waters and some of the best surf conditions in Europe, Scotland is fast becoming a must-visit destination for kitesurf junkies and beginners alike. If nothing else, it’s worth it just to see the look on the golfer’s faces as you stroll back over The Old Course in your wetsuit to join them at the 19th hole for some post surf refreshment
So now we have reached my home town. My girlfriend Nic and I have travelled all over the world and we’ve yet to find a city that we like better than Scotland’s capital city of Edinburgh. It’s one of those places that you can just wander round for hours, drinking in the history and being delighted at every turn with hidden little cobbled streets and unexpected views of the castle, dominating the city skyline.
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If I were planning to treat my girl to a special night in Edinburgh, I’d take her to stay at 21212. Michelin star winning chef Paul and his partner Katie have transformed a gorgeous Georgian townhouse into a 5 star boutique hotel and restaurant. It couldn’t be a more perfect place to stay, unless of course it was within a few yards of Edinburgh’s gay quarter...which, unbelievably, it is! With a plethora of gay bars, restaurants and clubs, Edinburgh’s ‘pink triangle’ will give you plenty of opportunity to party on into the wee small hours.
A couple of months ago I seduced my girlfriend with an outlandish proposal involving hoisting a grand piano up to our third floor apartment in the centre of Edinburgh. Anyway, the upshot of all that is, we are now planning a big gay Scottish wedding.
I can’t think of a better suggestion to finish off your road trip with a flourish, than by making an honest woman of the special lady in your life. Scottish Civil Partnerships are open to couples from anywhere in the world, and many, frustrated by the legal restrictions in their own countries are coming to Scotland to have their weddings. I can’t blame them. Imagine being able to celebrate a legal marriage, in the great hall of a Scottish castle, Imagine the kilts, the pipes, the gorgeous, romantic setting and the fabulous Scottish Ceilidh (or party) afterwards. It’s absolutely how we’re going to celebrate our wedding next year and it’s going to be fabulous. I can’t wait until we are declared wife and wife!
For more information on self drive holidays and civil partnership packages to Scotland, visit www.lovescotland.com