Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Into the Highlands

This day was everything I wanted from a trip to Scotland.  We were back with Rabbie's Tours, with the same guide, Gordon.  Our trip this time went up the west coast of Loch Lomond, to Inverary, a castle whose name started with K, into Oban, then north to Glencoe, across Rannoch Moor, and then back down around Loch Lomond and down to Glasgow.  There were other stops at some small villages and another castle.

The weather was stunning.  Sun and a few fluffy clouds.  Too hot for my preference, but most places had a breeze.

Compared to our previous stop at Loch Lomond, this one was much better.  A real beach with a real view.  We could clearly see Ben Lomond, and I'm told it doesn't always decide to put in an appearance.  The views were beautiful all the way north.  I am fully willing to agree it is the most beautiful loch in Scotland.

In Inverary, we took a brief stop to see the outside of Inverary Castle, the seat of Clan Campbell.  A very pretty castle indeed.

Just next door is the Georgian town of Inverary, all white-washed and dark-timbered. It's right on a loch and just very picturesque, while at the same time still feeling very alive and lived-in.  I mentioned to the boys when we were there that it was just my speed.

From there we went on to the castle that starts with K.  I'll have to ask Tom to remind me if it's name.  The castle is a ruin.  It used to be the Campbell clan seat before that was moved to Inverary Castle.  It used to be in the middle of a lake, but the waters have receded, so you can walk out to it.  It took us about twelve minutes.

Quinn and I enjoyed poking around in the nooks and crannies and many photographs were taken.  Tom enjoyed it as well, and took several of the photos.  I believe we also encountered our first midges.

Next it was on to Oban, a decently sized fishing village on the coast, which is also where most of the ferries leave for the islands.  We had delicious seafood in a restaurant overlooking the bay.  (Fun fact--Oban translates to Little Bay, so Oban Bay is Little Bay Bay.)

Then we were on to Glencoe.  I had not done my research, so I expected Glencoe was another village.  Incorrect.  Glencoe is the most stunning Glen in the Highlands.  Dramatic hills, beautifully green.  Little waterfalls cascading down.  The fresh, crisp wind, and the ghosts of history.  It is all there in Glencoe.

We parked on the side of the road and with most of the other tour members I clambered up the hillside for a better view.  Here I found myself with my arms spread wide, face to the sky, and the kiss of the wind all around me.  Easily the highlight of the journey, though the next stop gave it a run for its money.

Both boys stayed in the tour bus.  They don't like heights, and everything is certainly precipitous.

Up, then, and out into Rannoch Moor.  This is another place I've long wanted to see.  Miles of moor, much of it peat, scattered with boulders and surrounded by hills.

We made another roadside stop here.  Quinn joined me this time.  We hiked up a small rise that looked out over a small lake with a few trees.  The ground was spongy underfoot.  A strange sensation.  Don't stray from marked paths on Rannoch Moor.  You can sink in places.

There was much more, but I am too tired to do it justice.  All I know is this one day makes the whole journey worthwhile.