It’s been 14 months since I flew on a plane, my last flight was from Scotland, Aberdeen to Heathrow in BA Club Europe. That was in March 2020. 14 months and a pandemic later and I’m back flying again, this time from Cardiff Airport to Edinburgh with Loganair on their Embraer 145 jet. It was nice to be flying from my local airport again. Not much had changed at Cardiff except covid 19 measures like blocking off seats, sanitiser and the staff being masked up and in face shields. The airport was quiet as it’s still regaining flights as travel starts to recover so bag drop and going through security was pretty quick. Departures was pretty quiet but it did fill up as I waited for my flight with passengers not just going to Edinburgh but Palma de Mallorca with Vueling. With the exception of Café Ritazza all the outlets were open and I got my lunch at the Beer House and it was pretty good. My flight was due to depart at 1605 but the aircraft was 25 minutes late so it didn’t depart until 1630 which wasn’t a bother for me personally. After an hours flight we landed in Edinburgh. The flight itself was uneventful, Loganair were great as usual though the service was reduced with only water and a biscuit being served but it was great to be back above the clouds again! The transit through Edinburgh airport was easy and I collected my checked bag and jumped on the tram to drop me near my hotel for the night an Ibis budget.
Next morning, Tuesday 10th August, I was off to Inverness but not by air but by rail. I took the direct Edinburgh to Inverness train an old Class 42 HST intercity train i think it was but the interior of the carriages definitely didn’t look old. This took us over the Forth Bridge along the coast to Kirkcaldy, then to Perth and then up through the Cairngorms via Aviemore following the A9 at times. The scenery was fantastic, Scotland is a beautiful country and seeing it from the train was a good way of seeing that beauty and I’m glad I decided to use Scotrail to get to Inverness and might look at some of their other routes in the future to see more of the country. The train arrived into Inverness station on time at 1210 and after dropping off my luggage at the Royal Highland hotel which is next door to the train station and a very beautiful hotel, I caught a cab to the Battle of Culloden site. This is about 7 miles from the city centre. The visitor centre charges to go inside but you can walk the battlefield for free but if you don’t know the background of the battle it’s worth taking the tour of the visitor centre as it’s really informative of not just the battle itself but the campaign leading to it and the aftermath. The battlefield itself isn’t that large and has info plaques as well as in one section memorial plaque’s and a memorial to the Highlanders of the Jacobite army that died that day, 16th April 1746. After a couple of hours at Culloden it was back to my hotel in Inverness, this time by bus.
Next morning, Wednesday 11th August, after collecting my car for the day from the airport I was off to John O’Groats. From the airport to John O’Groats the distance was 128 miles along the A96 into Inverness, the A9 and then the A99. The drive took just under 3 hours and is pretty spectacular scenery wise and the drive can be quite windy in places but as it follows the coast for the most of it there can be some stunning coastal views of beaches and cliffs.
John O’Groats itself was a bit bleak as the weather had closed in and the view of the Orkney islands in the distance was mostly obscured by clouds but despite the weather the place was really busy with visitors. The drive back to Inverness was once again spectacular and very wet as it was raining pretty hard in places but with the clouds clinging to the hillsides that just made the scenery look more beautiful and after nearly 3 hours of driving I was back at my hotel at the airport, the Courtyard by Marriot, which is a very nice hotel to stay in.
Next day, Thursday 12th August, it was time to head home. I didn’t really do much in the morning apart from having breakfast in the hotel which was quite chaotic. I then headed over to the terminal for my flight. My flight was with Easyjet to Bristol as that was the closest airport to Cardiff that has a flight to Inverness. Unfortunately Easyjet doesn’t allow bag drop for the flight until 2 hours before departure so I relaxed for a couple of hours outside the terminal where they have some picnic table’s and in the land side café inside the terminal which has an excellent view of the apron especially where the Loganair aircraft are parked. Inverness is a small but nice airport with a café and WH Smith land side and when through security has another smaller café, WH Smith (which was closed at the time) and a Highlands theme shop, it also has an Aspire lounge. There are only 3 gates and the departure lounge was really busy as people were waiting for flights to Gatwick, Heathrow, Sumburgh and Bristol. My flight to Bristol was due to arrive at 1530 but was 30 minutes late and arrived at 1600 and didn’t depart until 16.40. In all the flight lasted about 1 hour 15 minutes and was about 40 minutes late landing in Bristol around 1805. The flight itself was pretty busy about 80% full the aircraft being an A320. With the exception of some turbulence just after Edinburgh the flight was uneventful, the crew were really friendly and as always with Easyjet there isn’t really anything I can complain about concerning the inflight experience and the arrivals experience at Bristol except with the long walk compared with arrivals at Cardiff.
The whole trip was really good, both flights and airlines were good and the airport experience at all 4 airports was good as well as was the train journey from Edinburgh to Inverness.
Scotland itself is a beautiful country and this was the first time I’ve holidayed north of the central belt and I’m definitely going to do it again and focus more on the Atlantic coast and the Outer Hebrides next time and look to visit Orkney and Shetland in the future. I would definitely recommend anyone to take a holiday there and explore such a beautiful country.