Glen Lyon, was described by Sir Walter Scott as the “longest, loneliest and loveliest glen in Scotland” is Scotland’s longest enclosed glen. It extends for some 25 miles from the village of Fortingall in the east to the head of Loch Lyon in the west.
It was hard to find a lot of info on Fionn’s Rock. Said to have been “split by Fingal’s Arrow” the rock sits atop the hillside in Glen Lyon, a gorgeous valley overlooking farm land and perched onto of a sloping hillside is the little known, Praying Hands.
After almost 3 years of taking time away from trips abroad; almost a year of being pregnant and then a year and half of keeping the kiddo alive, we finally made our way abroad and landed early October in London!
Austin now offers direct flights from Austin to London and thanks to Norwegian Airlines we got killer direct overnight tickets for less than $500 each! We would have taken advantage of the ‘kid under 2 flies for free’ but seeing as the flight was going to be at least 8-9 hours we paid for the extra seat and brought along the car seat for the kiddo.
For newer parents – if you can afford to do this, DO IT. It was really nice to not have a stranger next to us and with the car seat our kiddo was reminded to stay put just like in a car. There was some up and down and antsy legs…mostly on the way back, but between our 3 seats it was entirely manageable and actually enjoyable. Now cover your eyes if you’re a “no screens” kind of parent but we broke the rules and gave our almost 2 year old a tablet for the trip. Yes he watched it a lot and we had to restrict it as soon as we got home, but it was a lifesaver. Simply download some shows on Netflix and you’re golden.
I brought a ton of snacks in both carry on and check bags: gold fish, animal crackers, apple sauce, raisins, cookies, granola bars, sliced apples, grapes, pb&j, cheese, etc). Also tried to keep the toys minimal due to space: toy cars and little Peppa Pig characters, toy airplane and then treats for him to open like toy eggs with dinosaurs inside. During the flight over he played with maybe 3 toys, ate some food, sat in my lap, watched about 2 hours spread out of cartoon shows and then passed out in his car seat for about 4 hours. Pretty much fantastic! The way back a little more restless but still napped for a good 3 hours. Check out Pinterest for more ideas on traveling with toddlers.
Ok on to the good stuff and why you are here. After 3 days in London we took a train from King’s Cross Station to Edinburgh, Scotland. The train was about 4.5 hours and delightful. Beautiful scenery and full of people heading to work or off on an adventure. A woman literally came down the aisle and asked us if we wanted “anything off the trolly” straight out of Harry Potter. I died, classic!! There was a food car with sandwiches, coffee, tea and snacks and plenty of room for suitcases at the end of each train car.
Once in Edinburg we connected to another train that took us about 5 min down the way to the Wallyford Station where our Campervan service picked us up. We then spent the next 2 hours getting ready to go on an epic road trip around Scotland in a luxury Campervan from Roseisle Luxury Campervan Hire.
Driving on the other side of the road was not as hard as we thought it was going to be. Stay to the LEFT! Don’t clip the curbs, make sure you know the rules around pedestrians, and for round-abouts stay to the inside if you’re going to farthest. On the highway the slow cars stay to the left too. So much to see and do, we made our way to Isle of Skye, and that will be another post soon.
After about a week on the road we were faced with deciding where to go for our last hike. Either spend a day seeing castles and towns or going way off path to the unknown. Tre came across a blog for Praying Hands in Glen Lyon, Perthshire aka Fionn’s Rock. This seemed entirely out of the way and a long way to drive for such a short hike, but the more we thought about it the more we wanted to go, really Hidden Scotland!
That morning we drove out A9 in total fog cover, starting out on a nice 2-lane road turning down to a smaller one B846, then down to an even smaller one, and even smaller 1-lane that was a little tight even for the camper. All the way out to Camusvrachan, 9 miles west of Fortingall. We missed the turn at first but was able to eventually turn around (in a giant camper van on a small one lane road its not the easiest). After turning off the road we saw the laybys (pull offs) on either side just before the private bridge. This is where to park.
You’re not able to drive across the bridge as it is private property so we parked on the layby on the left side of the road and then walked the rest of the way. With kid in tow, some water and cameras we set out on the last hiking adventure in Scotland.
Across the bridge, up the curvy hill, over the cattle guard, turn right, down the street, past the pond, over another cattle guard, past the gorgeous, perfect white cottages and then the hiking path appears on the left. For a full description check out the blog from Britain Express with all the details. They were spot on.
The hiking path is on a farmers property, the land is made accessible to the public on foot but only the owner can drive the land. You’ll see 4-wheeler tracks and a defined path along the way. Once you pass the ruins of an old home and make your way up the hill, look up and to the right! You’ll see the tips of the rock peeking up over the hillside and then a small boulder pile and a skinny path leading up to the rock. We missed it at first and walked a little too far. If you do that, you’ll end up at a water dam reservoir and won’t be able to go much father, just turn around until you see the boulders.
The best part about all of this, the hike and then getting up to Fionn’s rock was… we were totally alone. Not another person in sight, not a voice, the sound or a car, nothing…but lots of sheep. Skiddish adorable sheep. The three of us had the rock all to our selves and the mossy earth around seemed untouched by humans. Unlike Old Man of Storr, where people have almost decimated the landscape around the trails, this was pristine!
Being there made me feel so lucky and thankful for visiting such an amazing country and having such a wonderful partner who is willing to push our limits and for our little family. Our son was thrown into this crazy trip of airplanes, trains, the London Underground, small hotel rooms with no where to play, restaurants, more trains and then over a week in a camper van; being schlepped around in the rain and cold on hikes and finding every place we could to try and feel normal. And here we were standing on the top of this gorgeous hillside, looking over the Scottish Glen Lyon, and the praying hands of Fionn’s Rock in pure silence and serenity.
It was the right choice to go here and I’m thankful to the farmers for opening their land for us, and to the people out there who keep it so perfect and encourage leave no trace. Should you ever venture here please be respectful of the land, the people and remember its only us who can care for this beautiful Earth.