Although I grew up in Scotland, until age 12 when my family moved to the U.S., there was still much of the country I’d never seen. Over the years I managed a couple of trips back there but both of them were spent visiting old friends in old stomping grounds around Aberdeen and Glasgow. So on this world tour I was determined to drag Britnee to places I’d never been.

Lucky for us, my childhood friend Meggan had bought a holiday holiday home of her own on the northern coast in Melness, a Scottish village I’d never even heard of, let alone visited. Tucked away off the road, this cozy, little cottage was Meg’s dream come true. A place to escape to from the stress of work and the big city of Glasgow where she lived.

Scotland, Visit Scotland, Scottish Independence, Durness, Melness, Kinlochbervie, Ullapool, Visit Ullapool, West Coast of Scotland, travel, backpacking, Melrose, Inverness, Glasgow, Surfing in Scotland,It was obvious Meg had put in a ton of hard work to make the cottage a comfortable home away from home. But after we got settled, lit the fire and sat down with a drink, it was easy to see how happy the place made her. While Britnee and I had decided to invest our hard-earned savings into this year-long trip, I’ll admit that being there in Melness, enjoying the comforts of Meg’s getaway, made me appreciate the idea of owning a holiday place even more.

Scotland, Visit Scotland, Scottish Independence, Durness, Melness, Kinlochbervie, Ullapool, Visit Ullapool, West Coast of Scotland, travel, backpacking, Melrose, Inverness, Glasgow, Surfing in Scotland,Later that weekend Meg drove us to a few of her favorite beaches along the way to the village of Durness; long stretches of single-lane road followed the coastline, wound around lochs and passed lonely cottages built between the North Sea and heather-covered hills. This was a drive Meg made frequently to enjoy her new favorite pastime of surfing, which she then got to do as the sun showed itself, warming the sands and sea at Balnakeil Beach.

Balnakeil Beach, Scotland, Visit Scotland, Scottish Independence, Durness, Melness, Kinlochbervie, Ullapool, Visit Ullapool, West Coast of Scotland, travel, backpacking, Melrose, Inverness, Glasgow, Surfing in Scotland,Onto the village of Kinlochbervie where we met Meg’s sister Kate, who teaches at the local school. After hello hugs, a catchup chat and cup of tea, we headed out for more beach time, our third of the day, before dinner at the local pub where we watched the sun set from our table.

Scotland, Visit Scotland, Scottish Independence, Durness, Melness, Kinlochbervie, Ullapool, Visit Ullapool, West Coast of Scotland, travel, backpacking, Melrose, Inverness, Glasgow, Surfing in Scotland,As we drove back to Meg’s in the dark a storm picked up, rain lashing the windshield while dozens of deer darted in and out of the car’s headlights, slowing our progress. It all made the long stretch of road, in the far north of Scotland, feel even lonelier, but that’s exactly why Meg chose the place to begin with. It’s also why Britnee and I felt so fortunate to visit with the company of a good friend and the comfort of her cottage.

Much thanks to both Meg and Kate for being such great hosts while we visited Scotland—getting us to places we would never see without their help, feeding us well and landing us the locals-only discount on tire repair in Achriesgill!

Later that week Britnee and I would return to Kate’s in Kinlochbervie with our rental car on the back of an AA tow truck, but that’s another Scotland story deserving of its own post.

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Mark is currently traveling for a year with his wife Britnee. Besides that stuff, (traveling and his wife), Mark's other likes include: mountain bikes he can’t afford, eerie movies starring Paul Dano, morning coffee--preferably brewed by someone else, and at least one song by Iggy Azalea.

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