In The Highlands

Craig
Scotland
October 29, 2003

   So, what did we get up to in Scotland then?

   Well after spending a lot of time at Edinburgh Castle and seeing the Stone Of Destiny (possibly my favourite student antic of all time) we headed west to Glasgow, home town to Billy Connelly. I think he's great and Lorraine thinks he's better than that. The town itself was kinda average, we saw a few bridges, the Winter Gardens and the Peoples Palace (cunningly disguised as a greenhouse and placed opposite a big brick palace building to confuse tourists).

Loch Lomond Hostel
Loch Lomond Youth Hostel
That night we stayed at the Loch Lomond youth hostel. It's exactly the sort of building that should have secret passages in it somewhere, but they were too secret for us.
   From Loch Lomond we drove north towards Loch Ness through the great glen that cuts through Scotland. The sun was pretty low when we passed the hostel but it was still early so we went on to a small settlement a while up the road. The main occupation of the locals seems to be setting up 'official' Loch Ness Monster exhibitions. We've no idea what makes them official (could the monster itself actually be called upon to authorise one?) or why they think they can charge 5.99 for entrance to see a whole lot of stuff based on one photo taken in 1934. The hostel that night was right on the loch, and had a great view, but it also had gas problems. Our room was freezing, the hallway with it's electric heater was much warmer. Seeing as there wasn't much else to do there at night we turned in early and had some reading time (I'm still reading The Dharma Bums at the moment). In the morning Lorraine and I decided to go for a dip. It was extremely cold, as you'd expect and my feet were in severe pain as I stood there fiddling with my camera to get a good picture. I did go right under (incredible murky and dark water, a giant prehistoric animal could easily hide there) and had a little paddle but it was Lorraine that really made the most of it. I think she is part penguin.

Loch Ness Sunset
Loch Ness at sunset
Loch Carron
Loch Carron

   Inverness is at the end of the loch but we took the scenic route so that we could see some more of the highlands. just outside of Kyle of Lochalsh we came to Eilean Donan, a castle I have wanted to see for ages. The castle is set out into a loch and accessed by a cool old stone bridge. On the right day it is a real beauty but the tide was out so my photos don't do it justice. We carried on along the coast and then cut inland aiming for Inverness via a town called Craig. The settlement is too small to get it's own town sign though (or someone got there first and stole it) so we drove right though without knowing it :-(

   We got to Inverness and found a purpose built hostel which is very nice and clean and warm, but has zippo on the character front. That night we saw The League Of Extraordinary Gentlemen. If I ignore the shocking way they portrayed Venice and the millions of people that may now think the city is built on stilts then I quite liked it.

   On the way to Aberdeen we took an inland route to make it to Alford, in honour of our good friend Mark Alford (there is a river there named after his dad too).

A Passage Grave
A Passage Grave
We also visited some very nice cairns and passage graves. Aberdeen lived up to it's image of being all grey, but in a good way. A lot of the buildings there are made from local granite and they look quite silvery when wet, which they were because it rained that night.
  On Tuesday we drove to Scone where the Scottish kings were crowned and previously the home of The Stone Of Destiny. The nice man at the gate let us in to look at the replacement stone without charging us anything. Throughout this trip we've been to many many castles but only into the one in Edinburgh because we could mostly see enough from the outside and didn't want to fork out 3 each time. I've forgotten the names of most of the places we stopped but I'll be able to point them out on a map I think. We stayed the night in Stirling. The hostel there is mostly new but has the original facade of the church that used to be on the site (and thus we were surrounded by graves). Right out the window was the old town jail which looked much more like a castle than the real castle did. It was frosty in the morning and I hoped for a bit of snow, but we it was still too warm for that. Stirling was the place where William Wallace had a particularly large battle with the English, so there is quite an impressive monument for him on a nearby hill.

Stirling's Old Town Jail
Stirling's Old Town Jail
The Wallace Monument
The Wallace Momument

   That day we went back past Edinburgh and left Scotland just a week after arriving but felt like we'd covered it nicely. We tried to go back via the same hills that Lorraine and I saw on the way in, but when we saw the snow had already melted we decided to take a more direct route and get to Newcastle quicker.



best wishes from
   Craig
Wish you were here?     (1 replies so far)



  23 Oct
03
 

   On Tuesday we left Rory's place in Newcastle and drove west towards Carlisle then south into the Lake District. Autumn is in full swing here and the trees were dropping their leaves along the roadside in the most amazing array of colours. Everywhere I looked it was picture-postcard scenery and pretty soon we stopped pointing things out because it was all so beautiful.

FrostedLeaves
Frozen leaves outside the car
But it is also very cold, and I finally got around to buying a hat and gloves. Lorraine says I look like a snowboarder with my jacket zipped up and wearing my beanie. We stayed the night at Gummers How (or Hummers Gow) and woke up in time to see the frost on the grass and mist slowly wafting across Lake Windermere.

   We had to be in Edinburgh by the afternoon so we got moving early, but took the scenic route anyway. Along the way we saw a place called Dalebottom and both thought of our friend in NZ who would love to pose by the sign I'm sure.

   Eventually we made it to Edinburgh and picked up Bronwyn at the station. She brought with her some prezzies from home and a wonderful word-find game made by Bex with the names of my new Euro-Friends hidden in it. I know what I'm doing tonight, thanks babe :-)

A Quicktime VR movie (4.5mb) taken of Castlerigg stone circle.


best wishes from
   Craig
Wish you were here?     (1 replies so far)




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