Saturday, June 17, 2017

Our trip to Scotland--day 3, June 10

Last night we went out to eat with our neighbors Joan and Jerry, and then came back here for some Key Lime Pie.  They went to Scotland some years ago, but enjoyed seeing our album of prints, already prepared by Bob with annotations before I even got my blog up and running!

On Day 3 we had to have our bags outside our room before breakfast. Our take off was delayed a bit when we needed a substitute Globus bus.  It didn't take long, and soon we were leaving Glasgow for the beautiful scenery of Scotland, past many "lochs" or lakes. We were told the story behind the song, "The Bonnie Banks o' Loch Lomand" a song based on a poem which may have been based on a Jacobite lament written after the Battle of Culloden which we would visit on day 4. There are many interpretations, but the one we heard was that the "low road" refers to the one souls take who die outside of Scotland.
O ye'll tak' the high road, and I'll tak' the low road,
And I'll be in Scotland a'fore ye,
But me and my true love will never meet again,
On the bonnie, bonnie banks o' Loch Lomond.
We were headed to the Scottish Highlands, which is both a political entity, geography, a culture and a history that is different than the lowlands and big industrial cities of the 19th century. This is the land of the Gaelic speaking Clans who warred with each other and the British. We would be spending the night on the Isle of Skye, the biggest island of the Hebrides off the west coast, but also our driver took us through the most fantastic, mystical and moody scenery you can imagine. This first photo was taken by the youngest (and prettiest) tour member, Emily. Isn't it just amazing? We didn't have a lot of sunshine on this trip, but when it appeared, it was dramatic.

 One beautiful area, Glencoe we passed through that day, is the site of a now inactive super volcano (can you say climate change?) and we saw many hikers and bikers--even children. Edinburgh also is an area with many inactive volcanoes which we would see on day 6. The next photos were taken at our rest stop at Glenfinnan to view the viaduct (scene in Harry Potter movie) and the Glenfinnan monument erected, in 1815, in tribute to the Jacobite clansmen who fought and died in the cause of Prince Charles Edward Stuart. Bob climbed the look-out to take photos, I walked the monument circle.  You can only see the viaduct if you look very closely because of the distance, and the young female bagpiper was at the visitor centre.

Another monument in the Highlands we visited was the WWII Commando memorial, near the village of Spean Bridge. It depicts British Commandos who were specially trained in Spean Bridge to perform raids. The monument reaches a height of 17 feet.
From there our whole tour group took a special add-on side trip to the Eilean Donan Castle (island of Donan, St. Donnan of Eigg, a Celtic saint) where 3 lochs meet and it is part of the Hebridean islands. The castle was a fortress in the 13th century, but was built and re-built several times. It was partially destroyed in the Jacobite rebellion of the 18th century, and was in ruins for 200 years until John MacRae-Gilstrap bought the island in 1911 and restored it.  It still belongs to the family, but is heavily visited by tourists and used for special events like weddings. It has a nice visitor centre for shopping and eating--which is something our whole group did very well. No photos allowed inside.

A wee bit wet from the rain, but happy for the sun. I made the silk scarf at the Rhein Center in Lakeside.

We then headed to a Pub, The Clachan, for a wee bit of fun and fellowship.

Norma, Ann and Rose who are Canadians

Emily, Kelly and Stacey

The water was too rough to take the planned ferry from Mallaig to the Isle of Skye and the Dunollie Hotel, so it was back to Ft. William and the bridge between the villages of Kyle of Lochalsh (mainland) and Kyleakin (Skye). There are very few accommodations on Skye that a large tour can use, so the hotel was a bit from the last century, perhaps the 1970s, and our room was in the basement.  Enough said. Good food and beautiful views. I think Bob will get some good watercolors of one of his favorite topics, old boats.
View from the dining room

Dunollie Hotel with John our tour guide
On Day 4, Sunday, we left the Hebrides and headed for the Loch Ness to see if we could find Nessie (didn't see her/him), the Culloden Visitor Center, A sheepdog demonstration, and the mountain resort of Pitochry.

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