Until now, I had not been further into Scotland than Edinburgh, which is just barely across the border with England. I decided it was time to see more of this rugged country, so I signed on for a 7 day guided tour. There were 27 of us on the tour, mostly Americans, but some Canadians and Australians, and even two ladies from New Zealand. We met for the first time at our hotel in Glasgow, Scotland's largest city. I arrived on an overnight flight from Newark on the morning of September 1, 2005.
Here is a map showing the areas we visited.
Nothing was scheduled the day of arrival in Scotland. We were free to explore Glasgow, rest up from the flight, or whatever we chose to do. The following morning, we took off by bus for the Highlands, via the "Bonny Banks" of Loch Lomond." ("bonny" means "pretty," and "loch" is Gaelic for "lake.") Here are some pictures of this rugged country. The ground cover in the second photo is Heather, and the plant in the third photo is "Rose Bay Willow Herb."
After several hours on the road, we made a "convenience" stop at a restaurant/gift shop. I took a few pictures of the flower boxes on and around the building. These are typical of Scotland, and also England. Many structures in both countries feature beautiful flower arrangements in window boxes and hanging baskets, in the cities as well as in rural areas.
We proceeded to an area where occurred a sad event in Scottish history. In the 16th century, the Scottish clan chiefs were required to swear allegiance to the English king. The chief of the McDonald clan put this task off until the last minute, and, apparently, the paper he signed was never properly recorded. The facts of the situation are a bit obscure, but someone issued an order to put the McDonalds to death. The redcoat soldiers sent to carry out the order were led by Captain Robert Campbell, a member of the Campbell Clan, who was related by marriage to the McDonalds. Thirty-eight men, women and children were slaughtered on a cold winter day. Others died later from exposure. Of course, everyone later denied responsibility. Here are pictures of the remote, mountainous area called Glen Coe, where the massacre took place. Other photos show the rugged Highlands further north
And now, for "Harry Potter" fans, here is a bridge used in at least one of the movies.
We soon reached the pretty seaside town of Mallaig, where we had lunch. Here are my pictures. One of our tour group always carried bread crumbs to feed the wild life. In one photo you will see a Sea Gull swooping in to take a treat right out of this fellow's hand.
Mallaig was also where we boarded the ferry that would take us across a short stretch of the North Atlantic Ocean to the Isle of Skye, where we would spend the night. This is the largest of the inner Hebridian islands. Here are some pictures I took from the boat.
Now, some pictures on the island. The cloud covering the mountaintop looked awesome.
The Isle of Skye is famous as the hiding place where Flora McDonald took Bonnie Prince Charlie for safety, following the disastrous Scottish defeat at Culloden. But that's another story. We spent the night there.