Wednesday, July 04, 2007

Scotland 5

Saturday, 16 June

We had a bit of a later start today; we were all packed up and downstairs for breakfast by 8:00 (that's 2:00 am for those playing along at home). This was a full, hot Scottish breakfast: much fun. Once I explained it, Paul was a little alarmed by his black pudding, but I enjoyed my porridge with cream and sugar.

Since the Oban hotel George usually uses was booked and we spend a second night in Dunoon, we started the day with a lengthy - yet still beautiful - retracing of yesterday morning's drive. The scenery here is exactly what I expected, and yet indescribable. That's not entirely true; I didn't imagine that the lowlands and the Trossachs to be so big, hilly, beautiful, sparsely settled, nor did I imagine the large evergreen forests.

Did I mention that it was a little warm and sunny on Iona? Just as it should be. The rest of the time, it's been cloudy, cool, windy, and even a little rainy, especially up in the highlands.

As we drove north, the "hills" got even higher, and the stunning landscape even wilder, with less sign of civilization and perhaps fewer lochs. The past seems close enough to touch, here, the English easy to hate, and the bones of the earth quite close to the surface.

The schedule is a really challenge for the little girls, who continue to do amazingly well.

We stopped at Glencoe, which was amazingly beautiful. Really stunning, and horribly tragic setting - on orders from an English commander, the Campbells slaughtered their hosts, the MacDonalds. Vile treachery here.

I wasn't interested in stopping at Glen Coe, but ended up loving it. I find myself wishing for a slower pace, less time speeding through the countryside, but I can't imagine what I'd want to give up from our itinerary.

We drove through Fort William at the base of Ben Nevis (the highest peak in Great Britain) before stopping for a quick lunch and heading inland to Fort Augustus, on the western end of Loch Ness. So cold! I stayed in the car with the girls; only LilSis and Paul put their feet in.

We drove back west to the accompaniment of Ada's screams (her nap having been interrupted at Loch Ness) until we got to Eilean Donan Castle, the most photographed castle in the world. It had closed early for a special event, but the current structure turns out to date from 1930. New!

We then headed a few miles over to Kyle of Lochalsh and our second hotel - this one for 3 nights. Apparently, the hotel on the Isle of Skye that George Wallace usually uses was booked, and this one, well, The Enmore had our expectations pretty high.

Our room is tiny: a narrow aisle for walking with our double bed, Ellie's cot, and Ada's portacrib all in a row. This would not pass fire codes in the States!

All three girls were a little tired and fussy at dinner, poor dears, and we had an unusual menu (distinct from the other diners in the hotel restaurant). Orange juice as a starter? Ellie and I had mac & cheese, a couple of people had chicken, and everyone else had seafood chowder.

Afterward, we all went for a walk along the water. All the signs are in Gaelic first, here in the Highlands, and English second. But there are very few kilts. I do want time to do some shopping.

Also, one small whine, if I may - let me say this about our new, low-to-the-ground-floor hotel: cheap toilet paper. But the toilet flushes and the bathroom's clean.

All the bathrooms are impressively clean here, many with gravity tanks.

Anyway, following my dad, we got stuck on a rocky promontory. Much hilarity ensued, and MiddleBIL videotaped it all. We walked through some midges, then back to the hotel for bed. 11:30, early for me tonight!


Amanda said...

I hate midges. Just so there's no bad blood. My family, Campbells, were from the highland Campbells not the traitorous lowland Campbell scum. We greatly dislike the lowland Campbells. Did the toilets have the two button system? One for a little flush and one for a big flush and both if you're desparate?

ccw said...

I love reading about your trip. It sounds and looks like everyone had a fun time.

I love the terrible mother from the post below. That is fabulous!

petunia said...

Found you on STL blogs. I am so jealous ...your trip looked fantastic - great pics of Scotland. We went to Ireland in 2004 and England in 2006...isn't it just magical over there? Loved the photo album and even copied the pic of the forest with the sun shining through.

Sarahlynn said...

Amanda, thanks for clearing that up about the Campbells! No push button toilets here, though it's a great idea!

Thanks, CCW; it was awesome!

Petunia, thank you! Nice to "meet" you!