The Highlands, Scotland

[ 1 ] June 6, 2011 |

Prior to this trip the entirety of my knowledge about the highlands stemmed out of my obsession with the swashbuckling 80′s tv/movie series Highlander – so basically I knew nothing.  To get in touch with Alison’s Scottish roots, we decided to go on a bus tour of the highlands.  They offered one, two, and three day tours – but given our time constraints we went for the all out, 380 mile, see all the highlands in a single day tour – sanity isn’t our strong suit.  None the less, we woke up at the crack of dawn (which is pretty early this time of year given Scotland’s proximity to the arctic circle) made our way to the pickup stop and were greeted by our kilt wearing tour guide.

Highlands Tour Guide

At the cost of spending most of the day on the bus zipping from site to site, we managed to hit up quite a few must see attractions starting with a quick stop for tea.  Our tea stop just so happened to be next to a cattle ranch filled with Scotland’s only indigenous breed of cattle – the “Hairy Kyloe”.  These four legged wookies don’t have an outer layer of fat to keep them warm like most other cattle breeds which is why they evolved their notable long shaggy coats which yield their only protection against the fierce wind andbitter cold found in the highlands.

Hairy Kyloe

Next stop on our tour de Highlands was “Glen Coe” – which means “Valley of the River Coe” in Celtic apparently.  Our hosts in Edinburgh told us that Glen Coe was their favorite place in all of Scotland and in terms of postcard-esqe scenery, Al and I had to agree.  Waterfalls rushing down dramatic hillsides galore.  It was breathtaking.  Our tour guide told us astory about a historic and cataclysmic massacre of the McDonald Clan that changed the course of Scottish history that happened in the valley way back when but given that I was way too preoccupied rubber necking about the scenery around us the details completely escaped me.  You can see why.

Glen Coe

The area around Glen Coe is home to most of Scotland’s “Munro’s”, that is 3,000ft+ mountains of which there are 283 of.  Their name sake was Sir Henry Munro who was the first Scotsman to climb and catalog all 283 of them.  The tallest ofwhich is Ben Nevis at 4,409 ft.

Ben Nevis

After Glen Coe we were off to visit Loch Lomand, the first of the three great Lochs.  At one point in time, the banks of Loch Lomand were the home of the MacFarlane Clan.

MacFarlane Clan Crest

Given Alison’s family roots to the ancient MacFarlanes, the beautiful Loch Lomand was of particularinterest to us.

Loch Lomand

After Loch Lomand, we snaked our way along 30 miles or so of winding loch side roads after which we finally arrived at Nessie’s resting place; Loch Ness.  At 755 ft deep, 23 mileslong, and 1 mile wide, Loch Ness is Scotland’s largest Loch.  It contains more fresh water than all the lakes in England and Wales combined and enough water to cover all of Great Britian with 6 inches of water.  We decided to go on an hour cruiseof the Loch and do a little Nessie hunting.  The cruise was relaxing, we met some newfriends, but fortunately/unfortunately Nessie wasn’t one of them.

Loch Ness

We did manage to get a great view of the most famous castle on the Loch, Urquhart Castle.

Urquhart Castle

It was now about 5pm, and with a full day under our belts the tour bus headed back toward Edinburgh to start the 3hr drive home.  We made a quick pit stop in Pitlockery, a quaint little village known for it’s old world feel and great trout and salmon fishing.  While we didn’t get to see if the fish we’re bitting or not, we did get to try out the next best thing – fish and chips!

All in all, the scenery of the Highlands completely blew our minds. The dramatic cliff faces specked with whitewater run off from all the rain was truly other worldly and deeply satisfied the mountain man in me.

 

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Category: Blog, Destinations, Pat's Blog, Scotland

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  1. Anita Wilson says:

    WOW! WOW! Hey, Leslie. Matt and I are planning a trip to Italy late August- Will you and Miss Alison be there- Or do you know? I think Leslie was going to go ahead & book the flights this weekend or Mon.
    Let us know pronto if that is not going to work- around Aug- 19 to 27. Love YA! MOM

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