“I’m so glad I live in a world where there are Octobers.” -L.M. Montgomery, Anne of Green Gables
Me too, L.M. Montgomery, me too. There is nothing I love more than a crisp, autumn day. Sadly, days like these do not exist in Los Angeles so sometimes you must escape to countries like Scotland to get your autumn fix! Side note: my friends from the U.K. will be very proud of me for using the word autumn instead of fall.
Lucky for me, my good friend Ian Walker is the owner of Borders Journeys, a tour company that provides private and small group sightseeing and ancestral tours of Scotland. I met Ian while volunteering with Vaughantown, a wonderful program I’ve written about on my blog and encourage people to learn more about if they have a passion for travel, meeting new people, and experiencing different cultures. Becoming fast friends with Ian was quite easy as his incredible passion for exploring and sharing his beautiful country with others is infectious. I’m not sure he realized at the time but after about ten minutes into meeting him, I knew I had to plan a trip to Scotland.
Seven months later, I flew to Edinburgh to meet with Ian and explore in and around the city center. Ian can provide visitors with tailor-made sightseeing tours all throughout the country, specializing in Dumfries & Galloway, and the Scottish Borders, his home regions. My visit was too short to cover that much ground, but I was happy to experience a few day trips outside of Edinburgh. While Edinburgh is an incredibly beautiful city which should be thoroughly explored, breaking out of the city to experience the immense history and culture of Scotland is equally as important.
As we boarded the Borders Journeys mini-bus each morning, the weather always started out a bit grey and the clouds unsure as to whether it wanted to pour buckets of rain or let the sunshine out. Lucky for us, the sunshine always won in the end and I found myself breaking out my sunglasses more often than my umbrella. Autumn is always unpredictable here, and throughout most of the United Kingdom, but September and October are usually very mild. After driving for only about fifteen minutes outside the city center, I began to feel so far away from Edinburgh. The city girl in me was so taken by the beauty and peacefulness of the countryside whipping past my window. I didn’t know whether to pick up my camera and document all of it or to simply observe and enjoy without a lens.
The autumn leaves, green hills, sweeping valleys, and historic landmarks scattered throughout, made it all too easy to fall under Scotland’s spell. I tried not to lose my cool every time Ian pointed out popular filming locations (Outlander, anyone?), quaint villages, and grand estates or castles. We hadn’t left the car yet and my excitement was already boiling over, just imagine when we actually get to our destination! Over the course of my four-day visit, Ian planned a few day trips to enjoy, each of them being only 30-90 minutes outside of Edinburgh.
I had the pleasure of visiting the Royal Yacht Britannia, Rosslyn Chapel, Traquair House, and Floors Castle. All incredibly different, fascinating, and filled with so much history that made me fall in love with Scotland even more. The amount of photographs I took is almost embarrassing and the memories I have to share will have to wait for another post. Each of these places are ideal day trips and I cannot wait to tell you why later this week
I feel so fortunate to know Ian and to visit Scotland with Borders Journeys. Experiencing Scotland through the eyes of someone so enthusiastic, proud, and passionate about his country, is something I will never forget. I might be his friend but, I promise you, he isn’t forcing me to say this. 😉 I simply cannot imagine my trip being anywhere near as organized, insightful, and fun without the guided help of Ian.
I hope you enjoyed this overview and are looking forward to learning more about Scotland later this week! Have you visited Scotland before? Would you ever visit in the autumn season? I’d love to know in the comments below!
More information about Ian Walker & Borders Journeys:
Website – http://www.bordersjourneys.co.uk
Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/BordersJourneys
Twitter – https://twitter.com/Bordersjourneys
Tripadvisor Reviews – http://bit.ly/1N4RXHp