The United Kingdom became my home couple of years ago. Before emigrating here, I didn’t know much about the country as a whole and how varied it is. London seemed to be so attractive as a destination, that the rest of it was just a shadow. When my life felt a bit more settled, I got interested what else is out there to see.

Missing the nature, driving a car and having a road ahead of me seemed like a great idea to unwind and do what I love the most: get back on the road. My inner explorer made me book train tickets to see the north of the UK on my late November annual leave.

It is over 5 hours train journey from London and to make the most of it, the initial plan was to travel to Edinburgh and then rent a car from there to see Loch Lomond and surrounding areas. 

Destination: Edinburgh 🚂

There is a special ambience travelling via train and I actually really like it, very often I prefer to travel by train rather than the airport. By choosing this form of transportation, you get to see a lot of nature on the way, changing landscapes, which turn from the hectic city centre packed with skyscrapers to wide open plains.

I find it very relaxing and it reminds me of times I was a passive traveller on long distance journeys with my parents. 

You can book train tickets with Avanti West Coast (Virgin Trains before), Lner or National Rail. Train fares start at £26.50

To check prices and dates, go to trainline.com for the latest information. As it is, on average, 4 to 5 hour long journey, I recommend to gear yourself up with a book, playing cards or any other low-key activities to get in the holiday mood. You can snooze, too! 

Visiting Edinburgh around November/December time is a great opportunity to see the Christmas market. Filled with beautiful, hand crafted items of a huge variety and friendly, passionate sellers, this is a place to feel festive. 

If you’re looking for a great place to eat and you also like wine, I spend an uncountable amount of hours in Pickles, which will serve you the best meat and cheese boards and top it up with a great wine.

Airbnb have some great affordable options to stay in Edinburgh for 2 or 3 days. That amount of time should be enough to see the Castle and have a nice walk around the city. If you are a fan of nature, like I am, that is plenty of time to get the feel of it. Leave the city to see the real Scotland with its crystal clean air, stunning lakes and exciting animals.

Balloch Castle

This beautiful, 19th-century establishment is a great place to explore in a day. It is surrounded by astonishing parks and gardens. You can see many people walking their dogs there. There are many lookout points to see the lake. If you want a little bit more quiet areas, rose gardens will look incredible in spring. Inside of the castle is not accessible, as it is private property, but there is plenty to see around for a good couple of hours. 

Loch Lomond

Located in Southern Scotland, this lake is part of Trossachs National Park and is surrounded by impressive and well preserved woodlands. It is a great intro to road tripping in Scotland, before you decide to take on a bigger challenge, like North Coast 500 or any other, few-hundred miles long trip. Along the shore you can discover many pubs, restaurants and smokehouses which prepare their specialities from local seafood. 

Gartmore House

Built in the 18th century, this wonderful mansion house had a challenging history, being passed on to different owners but it retained its original charm and magnificence. In winter, you can warm up by the fireplace with tea and read a book. Exploring the inside of this building made me feel like I’m in a different century. They organise activities based holiday packages – from walking, through painting, patchwork, quilting and sewing workshops if that’s your call. 

 Luss

If you end up on a West shore of Loch Lomond I promise you will forget about all technology and city bustle – that’s how you feel in Luss. This picturesque conservation village is one of the most beautiful places I’ve seen on this trip. With ever-changing Scottish weather it’s very likely that you will see a rainbow as a cherry on top of this magical experience. It is located only 72 miles from Edinburgh and is a great pick if you love photography.

Summary

If you are looking for a tasting experience of Scotland, a diversity of choices offered by small businesses in areas around Loch Lomond will provide you with a lot of entertainment, wonderful views and anything you might dream of – just make your plan and go explore! Scotland is great for the exploration of hiking trails, rewarding road trips, activities on the water in the summer, camping and horse riding. 

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