The Scottish Highlands and Islands, August, 2014

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Glasgow

Glasgow Photo Collage

Glasgow

First stop, Glasgow. Anne and Sandy put us up for two nights while chauffeuring us to Falkirk to see the sights. In the photo above, upper left, The Falkirk Wheel, a rotating boat lift, connects the Forth and Clyde Canal with the Union Canal in spectacular fashion. Ship and the water together move from the lower to upper canals. Here's a link to a time-laps video of the wheel in action. Lower left, On a cold, bitter day with rain driven horizontally The Kelpies tower over Helix park. Water dwelling shape shifters, often on the guise of a horse, in Scottish mythology Kelpies are highly anti-social. Touch one and you can't let go as it drags you into the closest loch to drown. The Kelpies strength resides in its' bridle. Grab and remove it then this or any other Kelpie is your slave for life. For one variation on the Kelpie story click here. Upper right, We're surrounded by the structure steel supports for the stainless steel cladding. Lower right, We arrived in Glasgow on my birthday. Joyce, Anne and Sandy threw me a birthday party. Bottom center. We left Glasgow from the Queen Street railway station for Inverness travelling first class, at least part of the way. One third of the way to Inverness we transferred to buses for the duration of the trip seeing more country side than expected.


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Inverness

Inverness Photo Collage

Inverness

We visited Inverness on three separate occasions over our two and a half week vacation. Our B&B, the Inverglen, photo above bottom center, was a five minute walk from the central shopping, dining and cultural sites of the city. The owners, John and Susan, made us welcome, the tea, cakes and breakfasts were first rate. When we left for a 4:00 AM flight home they'd prepared snack packs for us.

On our first day in Inverness we headed for city center and were greeted by a piper, photo above, upper left. Scotland was in the throes of a spirited campaign for or against declaring independence from Great Britain. Above, upper right, both Yes and No Thanks signs share a lamppost. The Yes for independence sign reflects the Scottish flag, the Saltire. How civilized, Scots of differing opinions respecting each others opinions … the No Thanks signs were torn down overnight. The river Ness flows for 12 miles from Loch Ness through Inverness into Beauly Firth. There's a lovely A walk along the River Ness that took us to The Inverness Botanic Gardens , photo bottom right. Joyce particularly enjoyed the English Garden noting it thrived on benign neglect. Lower left, We took an Inverness Walking Tour with guide Cameron Ross in the lead here before the Inverness Castle.


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MV Lord of the Glens

Lord of the Glens Photo Collage

MV Lord of the Glens

We joined the fifty six passenger MV Lord of the Glens in Inverness for a National Geographic / Linblad nine day cruise through the Highlands on the Caledonian Canal on through to the islands of the Inner Hebrides. In the photo above, upper left, the Lord of the Glens built especially to take full advantage of the width Caledonian canal with little room to spare. Photo above lower left, the captain, a tanker skipper in a previous life, cons the ship through a lock. Upper right, the main deck dining room, plush! Two entrees were offered for dinner each night with half portions available. Lower right, Our cabin, above the waterline this time, offered plenty of room. Both of us could change at the same time! Bottom center, one of two upper deck lounges served as lecture hall, happy hour site, entertainment venue. Coffee & hot chocolate were available at all hours.


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Oban

Oban Photo Collage

Oban

After exiting the Caledonia canal the next stop, The city of Oban, the last port of call on the Scottish coast and starting point for sailing to the lesser islands of the Inner Hebrides. In the photo above, upper right, Oban harbour on the Firth of Lorn from The Lord of the Glens with shops lining the High Street . We joined half of our group at the The Edinburgh Woolen Mill , a finished wool goods shop. Upper left, McCaigs Tower sits high above the town. Lower left Joyce sits among the flowers of one of the many plantings in town. Just above her can be seen the site of the Oban distillery where we met the other half of the group. At a sampling on tours end I tried the local brew, known to be good stuff U+2026 it still tasted like kerosene to me. Bottom center, I emulate Joyce's flower sitting but, somehow, it looks better on her. Bottom right, a view of the waterfront from McCaigs Tower.


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Isle of Mull

Isle of Mull Photo Collage

Isle of Mull

From Oban we sailed to Mull. In the photo above, top, the city of Tobermory seen from the Tombermory bay. The multicolor homes along the waterfront made Tombermory the prettiest city we visited on the trip. Lower right, the intrepid mariner takes a break from his arduous duties for a turn on the foredeck. Lower left, Duart Castle. The castle, the ancestral home of the Clan Maclean, is a rabbit warren of rooms, corridors and secret passages. It faces the Isle of Lismore which we hiked during our 2008 visit to Scotland. As all good Scottish castles should Duarte harbors a tale of a dastardly deed. One Lachlan Maclean at low tide abandoned his clan Campbell wife on a rock to drown as she hadn't produced an heir. What goes around come around. She was rescued in the night by a fisherman who returned her to her Campbell home. Lachlan was eventually murdered by her Campbell kin.


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Isle of Eigg

Isle of Eigg Photo Collage

Isle of Eigg

South of the Isle of Skye, Eigg, one of the Small Islands of the Inner Hebrides, was a modern day example of the worst of abuse by absentee landlords begun during "The Clearances" In 1875. Landlords had absolute power of their tenants could and did throw them off the land and destroy their homes in order to bring more profitable sheep farming to the land. In the late 20th century, having endured terrible treatment by 20th century landowners such as Keith Schellenberg, and Marlin Eckhart, the islanders began a drive to purchase the island for themselves. Fund raising stagnated then the balance was donated, anonymously, by a English philanthropist. In 1997 the Isle of Eigg Heritage Trust purchased the island.

In the photo above, upper right, the An Sgrr also known as the Sgurr of Eigg, forms the spine of the island. Lower right, the home of the last absentee Laird. Unoccupied now and sinking into disrepair the gardens however are beautiful. Photo, lower left, Bushes of these beautiful blue Hydrangeas and of red and blue fuchsias filled the gardens. Above upper left, the view from the high point of the Pier and Lodge gardens circuit trail with Galmisdale Bay in the distance. Bottom center, Our cultural specialist and leader of all things hiking, Konia Tack, and several members of our group gather in front of the Eigg Community Center.


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Isle of Iona

Isle of Iona Photo Collage

Isle of Iona

Iona lies a 10 minute ferry ride to the west across the sound from the island of Mull. The island's been considered a holy place from prehistory through the landing of St. Columba who first brought Christianity to Scotland up to the present. Home for the Iona Community any and all are welcome to come to the island for thoughtful contemplation.

In the photo above, upper left, The Iona Abbey lies at the end of the Street of the Dead along which scores of Scottish kings are buried. Time and the occasional Viking raid wore on the abbey, upper right. built in 563 AD. Multiple restorations , the latest in 1965, brought it to its' current condition. Lower left, the original Saint Martin's Cross stands before the abbey. Lower right, The islands only settlement, Baile Mor, Isle Of Iona, Argyllshire, lies along the coast at the inter-island ferry slip.


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Isle of Skye

Isle of Skye Photo Collage

Isle of Skye

The Isle of Skye, the last stop on our Scottish sail. In the photo above, upper left, the Skye Bridge seen from the The Lord of the Glens. Upper right, Dunvegan Castle on Loch Dunvegan, the ancestral home of Clan MacLeod. Lower right, While I wandered off on other pursuits Joyce joined the hikers led by Konia. As time passed and the trail petered the hike became a cross country yomp. Stopping at a pub after the hike on the island Joyce was delighted to meet, again, Ian, our guide on a 2008 hiking vacation in Scotland. Bottom center, leave a town and heather fills the country side with its' red blossoms. Bottom left, hikers stretch out along the trail.


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Updated: December 8, 2016