From England to Scotland: The First Step to the Next Adventure

The day after our crazy day of the Harry Potter studio tour and sightseeing through downtown London was Carly’s wedding. The weather was fabulous, the ceremony was lovely, and the reception was a blast. It was hard to believe as we woke up on July 31 that our time in England had already come to a close, but it was hard to be too upset as we were setting out on our next adventure!


We dropped Alex off at the airport for her flight back home, swapped our five-seater rental car for a four-seater (hooray for cheaper options!), and dropped Sylvan off at Carly’s flat after a quick brunch. He would be flying back the next day, but mom, Jen, and I were north-bound for a week and a half in Scotland!

When we first began planning our trip and deciding where we wanted to base ourselves for the first few days in Scotland, we had originally intended to take an overnight bus or train and rent a car upon our arrival. The cost actually was in favor of renting a car from the Gatwick airport and returning it there, so our plans changed. We couldn’t go to our Airbnb in Stirling, Scotland until the afternoon of August 1, so we decided to begin our drive and spend a night in Carlisle, England.

We were not overly fond of the hotel in Carlisle, or the major and frustrating event that took place there, but more on that in my recap post!

In the morning, we decided on a quick detour to Carlisle Castle. We didn’t pay to go in, but we snapped some pictures and walked as far as the inner gate, at which point one of the workers came out to tell us to pay or leave.





Carlisle Castle has quite the interesting history. It was originally the location of a Roman fort until William II took power and built the first proper castle. Carlisle is located right near the border of Scotland, and for this reason, Carlisle Castle was used as a war headquarters by Edward I in 1296.






In 1567, Mary Queen of Scots, fleeing from rebellious subjects, was imprisoned in the Warden’s Tower for several weeks (later known as Mary’s Tower). I knew ahead of time that I could point to any of the castles we had intended to see and find a connection to Mary Queen of Scots, but the Carlisle connection surprised me.




Carlisle Castle was once again center-stage in history during the Jacobite rising in  1745. The rising was meant to restore the Stuarts to the throne, and they successfully captured Carlisle Castle in November of 1745. Roughly a month and a half later, the English retook it, ending Carlisle Castle’s significance in terms of battles.






After Carlisle Castle, we headed back on the highway toward Scotland, passing through part of Gretna Green on the way.






Gretna Green has a long-standing history of romance, love, and marriage. I’ll delve into its history a little more in a later post, as we stopped for a longer time on the drive back to England.

We arrived late afternoon at our Stirling Airbnb – The Orchard Blairdrummond, run by Gillian and located about five minutes’ drive north of Stirling. Gillian was a lovely host, the place was the perfect relaxation retreat, and the Airbnb was located very centrally in terms of the locations we hoped to visit over the course of our 5 night stay there. Plus, the property was stunning.






No words can properly do it all justice, but I highly recommend staying here if you ever get the chance. I would return in a heartbeat, and spent much of our five nights there wishing we could pick up the entire home and property and bring it along to each place we planned to stay for the remainder of our trip. As this was my first time ever using Airbnb, I felt we really lucked out!






Having such a relaxing home base for five nights was a relief. We could finally calm down and recover from the craziness that had been our days in England. While we did that, we had day trips planned to Edinburgh, Loch Lomond, and Stirling, followed by plans to drive around the North Coast 500 and then base ourselves in Inverness for two nights.

Looking back at these photos brings back so many lovely memories. If I could teleport myself there, I absolutely would!

After moving all our bags in and picking up groceries for the next few days, we went for a walk along the laneway the Airbnb sits off. This view alone was worth every penny, if you ask me.











Stay tuned for more posts about our adventures! Up first: our two days in Edinburgh!

Have you stayed in an Airbnb? Have you been to Stirling?

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