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Scotland: From Skye with Love

The Scottish Isles are Braw

The journey was coming to an end. The weather was way more than I bargained for, as was the terrain. Rain, rain, more rain. Even when it didn't rain, the wind in the Highlands was powerful and at that altitude, it was brutal. I was completely over the weather, but I could never be over the scenery. If you stand in one place, you can binge watch nature for hours since it changes constantly. The broody clouds cast shadows on the mountains; the fog and mist drift in and out; the water in each loch has its own color and movement and it is all quite braw*. The Cullin mountains of Skye cast a spell and, although I am the first to admit I am a wimpy rough traveller, my small taste of the inner Hebrides islands of Scotland left me wanting to see more. There is something compelling about being in the middle of nowhere, in nature, in silence, surrounded by water. I am a water person. I can't be too far away from a sea, or at least a lake or a river. Scotland is surrounded by water on three sides and within its boundaries lie 38,000 lochs. Along the edges lie clusters of islands: the inner and outer Hebrides, the Shetlands, and Orkney. I need to explore them. Next time, I'll bring warmer, water-proof clothes.
Here are some final views from Loch Lubnaib. Tomorrow it's back to Edinburgh for one final fling.

*braw-fine, splendid, beautiful

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Posted by teethetrav 05:09 Archived in Scotland Tagged scotland isle_of_skye outer_hebrides inner_hebrides braw loch_lubnaib Comments (1)

Scotland: Greetings from Achmelvich Beach

From Asbury Park to Achmelvich Beach

I live three miles from the Asbury Park beach. A run-down shell of itself for decades, Asbury was recently named second best beach in the US by Money magazine. Wow. Trust me. It's not. But it has been re-invented by hipsters and a New York crowd. There are new restaurants at every price point, three hotels, multiple new businesses, and expensive condos. Some old favorites remain: the boardwalk, Convention Hall, Madame Marie's, and even the Stone Pony where Bruce still makes an occasional unannounced appearance. But commercialism and overdevelopment have ruined this unique, small beach town. But that's a different post.

On the other side of the Atlantic lies the remote and lovely Achmelvich Beach. Bordered by white sand, tall grasses, craggy rocks, and steep cliffs, the water is a blue-green that looks more like the Caribbean than a bay off the Atlantic. Near the town of Lochinvar on the northwest coast, the pristine beach is a well-known and popular spot with camping and caravan sites. Even the car park is a bit of a hike from the beach area, so the beach itself is protected. I for one hope it stays that way.
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Posted by teethetrav 07:29 Archived in Scotland Tagged scotland caravan achmelvich_beach asbury_park best_beach money_magazine Comments (0)

Scotland: Corrieshalloch Gorge

Rain, Fog & Fear of Heights

Many of us have heard that there are multiple words in Eskimo for snow. I am amazed there aren't an equal number of words for rain in Scotland. Maybe they're in Gaelic. Anyone know? In the US, we have a saying that April showers bring May flowers. In Scotland they say, if it wasn't for rain there would be no whiskey. Personally, I think there is a need for so much whiskey because there is so much rain.

On yet another windy and rainy day in Scotland, I found myself standing in the middle of a very shaky suspension bridge, high over the River Droma looking at a breath-taking waterfall and trying not to think about how high up I was. I hiked through the woods to get to this point and I was not going to leave without pictures to prove that I had overcome my fear of heights and bridges to have this experience. Except when I looked through my viewfinder, all I could see was blur! Something was wrong with my camera lens. Stubbornly determined to get my shot, I stood on the swaying bridge, with nothing to hold onto and changed my camera lens. And still saw blur. I fished around in my pocket until I found my phone and finally got the shots.

Long after I was back on solid ground and my knees had stopped wobbling, I pulled apart my camera to try to figure out what was wrong. DUH! It was so rainy and wet that my camera lenses had simply fogged up. I was so rattled by being so high up in the air on a swaying footbridge, a steamed up lens had never occurred to me. Here are my pictures. The first two are my foggy camera pics. You can see why I panicked!
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Posted by teethetrav 11:11 Archived in Scotland Tagged rain scotland whiskey corrieshalloch_gorge suspension_bridge Comments (0)

Scotland: Claver Cairns

A Hidden Gem as Amazing as Stonehenge

Not far from Inverness, just a few miles from the Culloden Battlefield are the 4000 year-old Claver Cairns, one of my favorite sites in Scotland. The Cairns (rocks) are formations that are reminiscent of Stonehenge. Arranged in circles, they are thought by some to be a burial ground. Others think they were a calendar of sorts for farming. Whatever they were used for, they are mystical. Being there made me happy that there are still mysteries in the world that no one quite understands. Who put these circles of stacked rocks and huge stones in place? Why are they there? Surrounded by trees, with green pastures as far as the eye can see, hills loom in the distance and when you stand in the middle of one of the circles, you feel as though it must have felt centuries ago. There is nothing of modernity here (except a sign directing you to see the Highland Cows a short distance away) and I was struck by the hours, days, weeks, it took to stack these Cairns into mysterious circles that were carefully arranged to let sunlight stream through on the solstice.

For fans of Diana Gabaldon’s popular novel Outlander and the TV series of the same name, Clava Cairns has become a bucket list destination. It's been suggested that Outlander’s fictitious stone circle, Craigh na Dun was inspired by the site. This is where the main character falls through time and meets her Scottish love, Jamie. The show has become so popular, there are now Outlander bus tours that take you to all the places where the show has filmed.

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Posted by teethetrav 04:44 Archived in Scotland Tagged scotland stonehenge claver_cairns pre-historic_stones culloden_battlefield diana_galbadon outlander Comments (0)

Scotland: Road Trip

Heading to the Highlands

The trip from Edinburgh up to Inverness and the Highlands is dotted with small opportunities to see samples of Scottish history. It is also a ride through ever-changing scenery that is green and hilly, then shifts to a brown and gray moonscape as you move out of the Lowlands across the fault line up into the Highlands. Layered over everything are clouds, mist, fog, and broody skies that can shift from dark to light as quickly as you cross a road. A road that gets slimmer the higher you climb and eventually becomes one narrow lane with small, paved sections that enable you to pull over so vehicles coming in the other direction can pass you on the curved mountain roads. Did I mention there was fog?

One stop is the historic town of Dunkeld on the River Tay where you can wander into the Dunkeld Cathedral, walk along the River, admire the town garden, shop a bit and get a wee snack in one of cafes.

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Another stop is the Folk Museum in Newtonmore. This reproduction village shows how Scottish Highlanders lived from the 1700s on. You can wander in and out of buildings that show how they built their homes, farmed, how they dressed, how they wove wool, and made their clothes. Set in a one mile long, 80 acre site, the scenic working farm has restored buildings that brings Highland history to life. There is a lovely trail to hike.

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No Scottish road trip would be complete with a stop at a whiskey distillery. There are around 120 distilleries in Scotland, so pace yourself. The Dalwhinnie Distillery is known for pairing single malt whiskey with chocolate, so it has double appeal if you are a fan of either, or both. You can take a tour and learn how whiskey is made, or simply sample from 1 to 6 drams of different whiskeys, each served with a chocolate. For 5 pounds you can get a cup of hot chocolate that is so thick it is more like pudding.

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Posted by teethetrav 04:02 Archived in Scotland Tagged scotland whiskey dunkeld highland_folk_museum dalwhinnie_distillery single_malt_whiskey river_tay Comments (1)

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