North America, Europe · 8 Days · 21 Moments · May 2017

Scotland Adventure 2017

25 May 2017

Our last destination was Dunans Castle. Maps show property at Dunans as far back as the 1500's. For over two centuries Dunans was home to the Fletcher Clan who moved to the site between 1715 and 1745 carrying with them the door of the private chapel of their former home. Fletcher means "arrow maker" and it is thought they were the first to have fire and cooking in this region. However, by 1700's they were chiefly involved in cattle rustling. Leading to the castle is Dunans Bridge, designed and constructed by the famous architect Thomas Telford in 1815 to commemorate the battle of Waterloo, in which many Scotts fought. The Castle passed out of Fletcher hands in 1997 and subsequently burned. The current owners established novelty Laird / Lady titles bequeathing the owner 1 sq ft of land at Dunans in order to raise money for restoration. MaryLynn gifted Ed with a Laird title. Imagine our surprise when we learned that Ed's 3rd Grandfather was a Fletcher.

24 May 2017

We spent the night in Glendaruel in Argyll. The mossy woods and lush vegetation had a very "Enchanted Forest" air about it. The first photo is a 150 year old Giant Sequoia at the Caravan Park we pitched at for the evening. Wifi in this area is very scarce, as is cell connection. The parks's Proprietress could not have been nicer or more accommodating. When she saw MaryLynn and me swatting at midges while attempting to connect to wifi near the park office, she pulled her car around so we could connect while sitting in her vehicle, escaping the wee buggies. The Scot's call them mi-gees and it was thankfully our first and last run in with them. We hope a return trip to Scotland will be a walking tour of this spectacular area. Argyll is famous for it's footpaths from village to village, and there are services available to tender your bags to you next destination so you can walk unencumbered by a weighty backpack. In photo #5 you see a signpost on the footpath to the next village.
Scenes of the drive from the Isle of Skye to Argyll. Along the way we passed the 13th century Eilean Donan Castle ( photo #5), or Island of Donan Castle which served to protect the lands against the Vikings who regularly raided, settled and controlled much of northern Scotland between 800 and 1266. With walls up to 14 feet thick in places, the Castle also played a part in the Jacobite risings of the 18th century. This ultimately resulted in the Castle's destruction as the British used gunpowder to bombard then blow up the structure, which remained in ruins for 200 years. Lt Colonel John Macrae-Gilstrap bought the island in 1922 and dedicated the next 22 years of his life to restoring it to its former glory.

23 May 2017

Scenes from our time on Skye. The Old School Restaurant in Dunvegan offered an assortment of haggis - to Ed's delight - and a tasty cocktail called MacBeath's Ruin.
At the foot of the Black Cuillins on the Isle of Skye near Glenbrittle are the Fairy Pools. These beautiful crystal clear blue pools on the River Brittle parallel a hiking trail up the mountain that continues into remote back country. We arrived in typical Scottish weather; wind, light drizzle turning to rain. This made for tricky hiking and river crossing conditions. The route bordered with grass, heather, peat and rocks. It is almost unreal how soft the ground is, giving way with each footfall as if you are walking on a firm mattress. Despite the cold, the Fairy Pools attract "Wild Swimmers" who don wetsuits and brave the icy water. We encountered two on our visit, you can spot them in photo #5.
The Oyster Shed serves seafood freshly plucked from the cold North Atlantic surrounding the Isle of Skye. Ed said the oysters and scallops were the freshest and most tender he ever had - by far.
Talasker is Ed's favorite whisky. Talasker uses barley from northeast Scotland, water from the hill behind the distillery and peat from the bogs below. Distillation of whisky has changed little over the last 200 years. Just three basic ingredients are needed - water, barley and yeast. There are five stages to the process - malting, mashing, fermentation, distillation and maturation.

22 May 2017

The Clava Cairns of Balnuaran are about 4,000 years old and were built to bury the dead. It consists of large ring cairns which have recently found to have intricate passages within. What remains today would have once been part of a larger complex. When the burial site was full, standing stones were erected around it. In Victorian times, trees were planted around the site as it was mistakenly considered a sacred place of the Druids.
The last battle fought on British soil, the 1746 battle of Culloden was the final confrontation of the 1745 Jacobite Rising, a bid for Scottish independence. The British had taken power from King James III, a Stuart, and exiled him. His son, Bonnie Prince Charlie, fled to France where he raised funds, arms and forces to fight back. The battle on the Culloden moor lasted less than an hour, 1500 Highlander's and others fighting with them perished. The British murdered the injured and stripped the bodies where they lay. For 3 days, the British murdered all who tried to render aid or attempt to identify a fallen loved one. In nearby Inverness, thousands were imprisoned for suspected treason. Wearing tartan plaid was outlawed as was the native language, Gaelic. Those who survived and were brought to trial were tried in a language they didn't speak without the benefit of a translator. Each Clan Stone on the Culloden moor is the resting place of 150 men.
We visited a kilt store where they custom make as well as rent kilts for formal affairs, as in the wedding photo. The lovely proprietress was so funny, friendly and accommodating. This is the closest we'll come to seeing Ed in a kilt.....for now.

21 May 2017

Leault Working Sheepdogs On a working farm of 2500 sheep on 5000 hectares, the sheep range over 20 kilometers. There are no fences, and the only way to bring in the sheep are with border collies. Neil, the shepherd works for the laird who owns the land. The shepherd's job is to keep the sheep in hills to graze and create the optimal environment for the wildlife. It was an amazing demonstration followed by sheep shearing, which Ed helped perform.
The Highland Folk Museum gives a flavour of how Highland people lived and worked from the 1700s up until the 1960'S. Over 30 historical buildings are furnished appropriately to their time period. Some were built from scratch on site and some are original structures that have been moved from other locations. The site is a mile long with an authentic 1700's village with people dressed as they were in that time engaging in activities such as milling oats,spinning wool & weaving.

20 May 2017

Ed's 24th Great Uncle, David, Earl of Huntingdon (died 1219) founded Lindores Abbey. A recently discovered reference to the Abbey is now recognized as the earliest written reference to Scotch Whisky (or Aqua Vitae, as it was then known). This year, a new distillery is opening at the Abbey site. As an aside, most scholars believe that David, Earl of Huntingdon was the person most likely to have been Robin Hood. He had taken part in the Third Crusade, and the siege of Nottingham Castle near Sherwood Forest where the Sheriff and was taken captive.

19 May 2017

King Fergus, Ed's 26th Great Grandfather, is buried at Holyrood Abbey in Edinburgh. Princess Ann was visiting Holyrood Palace next to the Abbey ruins, so we were only able to photograph from a distance. The Abbey was founded in 1128 and has been in ruins since the 18th century. The Abbey was the site of numerous coronations and royal weddings over the centuries of its use. The flowering yellow shrub pictured is gorse and smells of coconut - it's everywhere!

18 May 2017

Ed's first taste of haggis, Dubh Prais Restaurant
Old Town Edinburgh
Edinburgh Castle has been a royal residence since at least the 12th Century. It is known as the most besieged place in Great Britain, and one of the most in the world. The Castle stands on an extinct volcano and is still an active military garrison. Each August, the Castle hosts a series of performances of the bagpipes and drums of the Scottish regiments known as the Edinburgh Military Tatoo.
Flying in to Edinburgh
MaryLynn enjoying her upgrade
MaryLynn and Ed got upgraded after a 5 hr delay in Newark

17 May 2017

Shiny new Terminal C at Houston's George Bush International - iPads and power outlets at every seat.