Monday, June 18, 2007

Day 5

Today was the big, much anticipated tour to the Highlands. We chose to go with Rabbie's Trail Burners (notice the pun, Robert, or Rab Burns is one of their celebrated author's). There are so many touring companies in Edinburgh. We are glad we went with them because the tour was more intimate. Only 15 people to a bus (our tour happened to only have 8).

First of all we had to make a stop at St. Giles to see John Knox's grave. The first time we were there it was hidden under a car. Yep, carpark #23 and a simple unmarked plaque.
So then we hopped in a minibus and headed off to the highlands. It was good doing this with a tour guide. Don't have to worry about maps and figuring out what the road signs really mean. It was especially good in the highlands as the roads are very narrow and twisty.
Our first stop was to visit a beloved heilan' coo (highland cow) named Hamish. He gets so much attention.

My absolute part of everything we saw during this whole week was Glen Coe. It was so stunning and haunting. I wanted so badly to go in and explore some of those hills, but it was only a quick 10 minute stop. Glen Coe will always haunt me.

Other than it's spectacular beauty, Glen Coe is famous for the Glen Coe massacre. We heard of many battles between the clans on our tour (a bloody, bloody history Scotland has), but this one is very well known because the MacDonlands had given highland hospitality to the troops that had slaughtered them. It was an unwritten rule to always provide hospitality to those who came to your door, even if they were an opposing clan, as the Campbells were to the MacDonalds. And in return, those who accepted the hospitality were not to do any harm to their hosts. The weather in the highlands could be very severe so this hospitality could be very vital to the lives of travelers.

We reached our destination: Loch Ness. Our stop on Loch Ness was Fort Augustus. Loch Ness is not just a wee loch. It is 23 miles long. It is the largest loch in Scotland by volume and contains more freshwater than all of England and Wales combined. Though it is only 1 mile wide in some parts, it is very deep. Its deepest point is 754 feet. The depth of the loch leads to many stories about what could be lying at the bottom of the loch. Including Nessie. And look! We even got a peek at her!

Please take a look at flickr for many more stunning photos of our tour.

Remember, there is more than just one page. Click on the little numbers at the bottom of the flickr page to see more pics.


Anonymous said...

I miss Hamish.
Will he be featured on a new card of yours?
Mom f.

ErinOrtlund said...

We have a children's book called Hamish the Highland Cow!

We love love loved Glen Coe as well. So beautiful, and yet such a tragic thing happened there!