Scottish Highlands

The Scottish Highlands were all I thought they'd be...and much more.  I had always imagined there would be mist rolling in off the mountains, grazing sheep, and Highland Cattle.  There were peat bogs, waterfalls, deer, old castle ruins, and above all, a deep dark history of the Scots who have survived centuries of struggle.  We only had a day to see it all, so we booked a tour with Highland Experience.  It was a van that took you from Edinburgh to Inverness and back in one day.  A full 12 hours of driving and touring.  It was a long day in the van, but at least I wasn't driving.  During the tour, our driver played Scottish music appropriate to the location (think ballads about war heroes) and told us stories of Kings, battles, and brave men who made Scotland what it is today.  They even call the tour, "Monsters, Mountains & Massacres", as we did take a boat tour on Loch Ness.  Sadly, we never even saw a sign of Nessie, as she is affectionately known.  We did see the ruins of a Urquhart Castle, one of the largest in the area.
We stopped here for a boat ride on Loch Ness and had a bite of lunch.  You could buy EVERYTHING 'Nessie'

Urquhart Castle sits on Loch Ness
The drive from Loch Ness, we headed down along the other side of the lochs to Glen Coe, a very  mountainous region with waterfalls sprouting all along the terrain.  It was raining almost all day, so the views weren't as good as they might have been.  You can see snow on the mountain tops. We were told that in summer the hills are covered in purple heather.  It must be quite beautiful.  People today still talk about the battle that took place here in 1692, when a group of Campbells led by Captain Robert Campbell arrived during a snow storm.  Scottish hospitality dictated that when weather was bad, a person had to open their doors to anyone needing shelter.  The MacDonald clan gladly took them in and fed them for days. They were repaid by the Campbells who murdered the men, burned the homes, and left the women and children to die of exposure in the cold.  At least 78 people died.  It was after this that the Scots were chased out of Scotland and could be the main reason we have so many people of Scottish descent in the USA today.  If your name is Campbell, you are still unwelcome in parts of Scotland.

Glen Coe, the place of a massacre in 1692
We also stopped briefly at Stirling Castle and learned about the man featured in the movie "Braveheart", William Wallace.  Although the movie doesn't accurately depict history, I enjoyed it.  Hearing the real stories, I thought they could have made a good story even without Hollywood romance.  We also learned about the great King Robert the Bruce.  They both had been guardians of Scotland, but at different times.  The castle is set high atop a hill, so you can understand it would be an excellent place to hide out.  You can see for miles in all directions.  Even Mary Queen of Scots had been brought here as an infant for protection.  These hills are rich with history.  If you are a history buff, you should add this interesting place to your bucket list.
Stirling Castle atop the hill
King Robert the Bruce statue at Stirling Castle


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