At the very end of summer, when the leaves were just starting to turn and drop, we decided to take a dog friendly road trip to Scotland. We were lucky enough to borrow a beautiful Range Rover Sport for two weeks which made the journey a dream for all three of us. With the promise of autumn soon approaching we decided that Scotland was the best place to get into the spirit of the transitional season. Packing our cosiest knitwear and Pepi’s favourite toys into the enormously spacious boot, we set off in search of our first stop in Yorkshire.
Yorkshire and Scotland are stunning places to visit at this time of year as the lush greens turn to a sea of bright orange, yellows and reds. They start to become really popular at this time of year. So I thought I would share our trip in case it’s useful for you if you’re planning a road trip with or without your furry friend!
We decided to stay at The Falcon Manor Hotel, nestled at the foot of the Yorkshire Dales and built in 1841 for the Reverend Swale. It was built using money provided by his grandmothers’, so that he could ‘make a statement’ in the new community. While they were at it, they also donated £500 in their Grandson’s name to the cost of building the new Settle Church. This was on the caveat that he should be the first incumbent. We stayed in The Rafters Suite and thoroughly enjoyed our cosy room, the delicious food, big garden and stunning views.
The Yorkshire Dales are absolutely beautiful and I can’t believe we haven’t explored them before. We ditched the maps and drove down the prettiest roads. Everything looked like a scene from the opening sequence of Postman Pat. Sheep causing traffic jams, blue skies and fluffy white Simpsons clouds. The road trip took us through a valley, over a bridge and found ourselves in beautiful Kettlewell. Pepi was getting restless, so we parked up the car and went for a long stroll. The village is carved out of beautiful Yorkshire stone, with a river running right through the middle and bridges criss-crossing over it. It was definitely worth the stop.
Our second Dog Friendly stay in Yorkshire was at The Devonshire Arms Hotel and Spa, Bolton Abbey. A Country House Hotel that started life in the 17th Century as an Inn and still boasts a warm welcome and fine hospitality to this day. We stayed in The Garden Room. A beautiful room overlooking the landscaped gardens. We spent our time at the Hotel sampling their incredible culinary offering and walking Pepi in the grounds of Bolton Abbey. Pepi literally didn’t want to leave after a night in her Princess bed!
The next morning, we had a bit of a drive north of the Scottish border to Edinburgh. The first of our Scottish stops. We stayed in a little Air BNB down a gorgeous street in Abbeyhill called Carlyle Place. One of the ten sets of Colony Houses that served as homes for artisans and skilled working class families between 1850 and 1910. It was a perfect hub for us for a three day stay in the City. Especially with the garden for Pepi.
Craigievar Castle was our next stop. A worthy detour to the East Coast to see the famous pink castle of Scotland. It supposedly inspired Walt Disney’s Fairytale Castle Motif. Between April and September you can actually take a tour inside the castle. As long as dogs are kept on leads, they’re allowed inside the grounds. The Castle sits at the feet of the Grampian Mountains in Aberdeenshire and is now owned by the National Trust. The drive to get there is beautiful enough, but the castle itself is absolutely stunning.
We made it to Inverness before it started getting dark, settled Pepi into the room at Aberfeldy Lodge and headed out into the chilly September evening. Inverness is not only the most northerly city in Britain and quite possibly one of the most beautiful too. The ‘Mouth of the river Ness’ is regarded as the Capital of the Highlands. It boasts its own castle and stunning heritage builds, all hugging the river. Ben and I didn’t get to explore as much as we would have liked as we had to set off early the next morning. My parents were there at the same time though and highly recommended Rocpool Restaurant. It gets booked up well in advance though, so if you know you’re going, get your reservation in!
The drive the next day was the definition of epic. We took the Torridon Road from Inverness to Applecross and then on to Dornie via the most incredible road ever. We stopped at some public toilets in Torridon for a picnic by the river. Then headed off again on the beautiful road to Applecross. A tiny town right on the West Coast of Scotland. With a beautiful pink beach and the sea lapping its shores. We stretched our legs on the beach, before warming up with a cup of tea in the Applecross Inn.
From Applecross, there is a steep road leading directly out of the village. We swung the car up the road and past an ominous sign stating the ‘road may be completely impassable in winter weather’. What ensued was the most incredible drive that any of us have ever had. The road cut through the most beautiful parts of the mountainous rock. Before swinging its way down until it levelled out again like a road to a ski resort. We drove the road for the rest of the day, coming across Highland cattle, Eagles, Lochs and waterfalls. The Bealach na Bà road is nothing short of spectacular.
As the sun started to go down, we pulled around the coastline and found ourselves in Dornie. The tiny village that sees thousands of visitors a year. Due to the beautiful Eilean Donan Castle that juts out into the middle of the loch. With ‘no room at the inn’ or BNB or local hotel, we found a campsite that had toilets, showers and space for us. The seats fully reclined at the front, so Ben tucked into the passenger seat and Pepi curled up in her basket in the drivers seat and I sprawled across the back seats. We camped in the car for the night. After all, it wouldn’t be a road trip without one night in the car!
The sun rose over the three lochs. We decided to explore the castle before it got too busy. Pepi and I scrambled over the rocks to get the best view of the stunning Castle perched on the tidal island. Before scurrying back down to continue the road trip.
The itinerary that day was to see Glenfinnan Viaduct. The Harry Potter series featured it and its fame skyrocketed. Now, fans of the books and films appear in their droves to catch a glimpse of the Viaduct. Or the steam trains that twice daily pass through the valley at 10.55am or 3pm (give or take 15 minutes for both times). The enchanted valley had a stag casually grazing at the bottom. We hiked to the top in the rain, knowing we were between both steam trains times and wouldn’t see either cross.
A quick journey through Fort William to gather lunch and we were back on the A82 through Glencoe. Cruising along to our Rat Pack playlist. From Glencoe, we drove to our very last Scottish stop. We explored Killin on our last Scottish roadtrip and hadn’t realised that we’d added it to this one until we spotted a familiar cleared forest. The road past the newly planted forest lead us right down into the centre of Killin. And to the falls of Dochart. That night we stayed at The Killin Hotel. The room was dated. It was enough for the three of us though and the food was comforting. They had lots of dogs staying too, which Pepi loved.
The next morning started our long journey home, via a short exploration of the falls once more.
We had a one night stop at Appleby-In-Westmoreland. The beautiful village hosts a number of exciting annual events including the Appleby Horse Fair and a themed Carnival. We stayed in a self-catered apartment that’s part of the Tufton Arms Hotel and our first experience of the Eden Valley was great. The village is stunning and the people so friendly. One lady heard us talking about how beautiful it was and gave us a few recommendations. Including having a walk through the Alms Houses and a peep inside the tiny chapel. The village also boasts a Castle that you can stay in, but it unfortunately isn’t dog friendly!
We stopped for one more night near Manchester to visit a friend, before blitzing the last of the journey. This gave us a lovely insight into the West Coast and meant we could take a different road South. There is still so much to explore in the North of Scotland. I would love to do a road trip to the Outer Hebrides. Have you ever been or is it on your bucket list?