Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Epic adventure in Scotland Day 2: Glasgow to Inverness

We left Glasgow and headed for the Valley of Glencoe, with a stop on the shores of Loch Lomond, just outside the city.  

[The shore of the loch.]

[We were stuck in traffic for a while, so I was able to take a pretty picture of a thistle.]

Glencoe is a stunningly beautiful valley in the Highlands, famous for a massacre in the 17th century.  In February 1692 a group of Red Coats were sheltered in the valley by members of the MacDonald clan, who had made a treaty with the English.  For nearly two weeks the clan fed and looked after the English throughout the valley.  Then, on the morning on February 13, the English betrayed the trust of their hosts.  Each soldier was ordered to rise early, before his or her hosts, and kill them.  It is one of the bloodiest, and most cowardly acts the Red Coats ever committed.

[Driving though The Valley of Glencoe.]

[One of the three sisters in the valley.]

 [Another of the three sisters.]

[I forget what we were tying to do here, but it looks funny/strange.]

[This is from the visitor's center.  As cute as a Hairy Coo is, I think a baby Hairy Coo is even cuter.]

[These flowers grew everywhere in the highlands; it felt like only these, and rhododendrons, grew up there.]

[We took a walk around the visitor's center.  It was only about 20 minutes, and was beautiful.  Everything about the area reminded me a lot of Western Washington.]

[Aren't we adorable?]

We took a tour of the visitor’s center and then headed for Loch Ness.  The Loch Ness Visitor and Exhibition Center was quite good, especially for a monster museum.  It was nice that it took a skeptical view of Nessie, rather than trying to make something enormous out of nothing/very little. The little village in which Nessie exhibits are located is very cute; it is called Drumnadrochit and caters to the Nessie-driven tourists is a surprisingly tasteful way.  It was not a Nessire-Pallooza, as I was expecting.
Just five minutes down the road from Drumnadrochit is Urquhart Castle.  

[This is one of the only shots I have from Loch Ness.  This is from the visitor center's AV show.]

A settlement has been on this site since at least 500AD, and possibly further back.  It is gorgeously situated, over-looking Loch Ness, and giving the best views of the Loch (loch, by the way, is Gaelic for lake, compare it to the Irish, 'lough').  The castle is just a shell now, having been blown up in the mid 18th century to prevent the Jacobites from taking control of it (I will write a brief summary of the Jacobite rebellion later).

[Urquhart Castle with Loch Ness in the background.]

[You can see the castle's citadel on the right, the long wall with the flag pole poking out.  The citadel is usually the strongest place in the castle, and used as the last line of defense, should the castle be sieged and the walls breeched.]

[A trebuchet on display in front of the castle.]

[The interior of the castle.]

[Do you see any monster's in the loch behind me?]

[This was part of the old kitchen, it now serves as a great place to use as a backdrop for pictures.]

[You cannot see it too well, but there was a massive storm coming in from the right, over the loch.]

[How appropriate.]

[This is probably my favorite picture from the castle. It feels so lonely and beautiful.]

[I have wanted my picture with this sign since first seeing it on TV a few years ago; I do not know why, perhaps it is my love of the tacky.]

[This is the visitor's center we actually went to (we did not go to the one above).]

[We ate in a nice little restaurant in the village, next to a large group of Germans, who apparently parked next to us.]

[In case you were wondering if people actually eat haggis, they do; here it is on the menu.  It might seem strange to most people (after, all it is the ground up internal organs of a sheep, mixed with spices and oatmeal and then boiled in a sheep's stomach), but is it really so different than many types of sausage?  And it must be good if it has been eaten for so long and is still very prevalent to this day; it is on almost every menu.  Four years ago my friend Emily tried it in Edinburgh, and she loved it.  She ate it twice, if I remember correctly.  If I were not a vegetarian I would have ordered it.]

Then on to Inverness, the northern most city in Britain.  Inverness is a small city, with a good feel to it.  We took a walk, recommended by the hostel, called the Queen’s Way Walk, that took us along the river, over the Ness islands and into the city.  We were very tired and so did not do much before going to bed.

[Inverness Castle.  The statue out front is of Flora MacDonald, who helped Bonnie Prince Charlie escape the country after the Battle of Culloden.  She supposedly dressed him as a woman to hide him from the English.]

[Remember I mentioned the rhododendrons? Well here is a picture.  All of them that I saw were the this same purple color, and many where easily over fifteen feet tall, if not twenty.  This was taken on the Ness Islands in Inverness]

[This is really a picture for my friend emma, who loves rabbits.  This little guy was eating grass in front of a church in Inverness, just a few meters from his hole.  He was only about the size of a kitten.]

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