Trip to the Beach

Thursday, August 17, 2006

The Land of Bagpipes, Kilts, and Ol' Nessie . . . .

Our first night in Scotland was spent in Stirling. The national memorial to William Wallace is here and we had heard rumor of a statue of Wallace that looked strangely like Mel Gibson (Braveheart). So before we left for the Highlands the next morning we set to prove the rumor. And the rumor was correct! Just outside the visitor's center at the Memorial was a statue of William Wallace that looked exactly like Mel Gibson! And as we would come to discover throughout our travels in Scotland, it is like William Wallace does not have his own identity! Everywhere we saw a depiction of Wallace, it looked like Mel Gibson! It became a crusade of sorts to see if we could find something that didn't look like Mel Gibson. I don't think we were successful.

The Scottish Highlands are amazing! Big mountains, dotted with sheep and little cottages! Oh, and Highland Cows! Cows that have long hair! It was the most bizarre sight!

We drove first to Inverness, which is situated at the northern end of Loch Ness!

Nick found it amusing that so many people were in line at KFC!

After some site seeing, we decided to drive along the coast further north.

This drive brought us to Dornoch where we camped for the night. This was probably my favorite campsite! Our tent was set up right across a road from a sheep pasture with two or three mommas and three or four babies! It was the coolest thing! Oh, and there were Border Collies, my favorite! We are pretty sure they are the official dog of Scotland! Nick shared this observation with a lady and her Border Collie and the dog proceeded to bark and growl at him!! That evening in Dornoch, there was a demonstration of a bagpipe and drum corp and Highland Dancers! I couldn't have asked for better entertainment!

The Post Office on Dean's Lane

The gate to Dean's Court

My new buddy! I wanted to keep this dog. It actually climbed through the gate behind us.

Our campsite outside Dornoch! This was the best one!!!

What's a trip to Scotland without bagpipes?

The next day we were off to hunt for Ol' Nessie! We drove along the shores of Loch Ness searching diligently, but alas, no sight of Ol' Nessie!

Loch Ness. The huge lake where the alleged Loch Ness Monster has been sighted! We were not successful!

Nick preparing to do battle with The Monster!

But the drive was beautiful and relaxing. Later in the day we arrived in Fort William and found ourselves to be in the outdoor capital of Scotland! Ben Nevis and other lofty mountains surrounded the town and Nick decided that this was the place to put the rock climbing skills he had learned in the preceding months to work. So, with equipment strapped to his back, we set off in search of the perfect spot! After much searching, he was ready to give up, but I wasn't. I didn't want to hear him complain that he didn't get to go climbing, so I kept looking. We finally found a spot and anchored in, but after some climbing it turned out to not be the best spot after all and besides, the sun was about to disappear behind the mountain! We didn't want to get stuck on the mountain in the dark, so we headed down!

Nick returning from doing some recon for rock climbing!

Are you sure this spot is good?

Nick, it's just a figure 8 knot! "Climb on"

We camped in Fort William that night and the next morning, we continued south and east toward Edinborough!

Pics from in and around Fort William

It was another beautiful drive snaking through the mountains with a misty fog clinging to their tops. The city of Edinborough was pretty cool as well. The castle set high above the city on the castle rock was an imposing presence! But so majestic! Our only regret is that we didn't have more time to spend there.

Edinborough Castle

A bustling street in Edinborough

More glorious bagpipe music!

After some lunch and a quick stroll, we were back in the car and headed south. Our next stop, Hadrian's Wall. This is the wall the marked the northern boundary of the Roman Empire. So, that should tell you how old the wall is! It was a difficult thing to find because it just meanders across sheep and cow pastures in the English countryside. There is no huge Visitor’s Center to show you where it is, but after some aimless wandering down back country roads, we found it. It was a pretty impressive sight. The wall runs 73 miles from east to west across England.

Hadrian's Wall

Our journey then continued south toward London. We arrived in London early in the afternoon the day before we were to fly on to India. My dream was to stay in a hotel for the night, relax, and get a good night's sleep. But that was not to be. We searched for several hours, trying to find a hotel that was affordable and available. That combination could not be found. When we found available rooms, they were like $300+ and the affordable hotels were all booked. So, after spending entirely too much time on this futile search, we ended up staying at the airport for like 15 hours. We were even going to try to take a train into London and do some site seeing to waste time, but by the time we returned the car and got to the airport, we wouldn't have had enough time in London. So we stayed at the airport, read, and watched people. It wasn't long until things quieted down and we got our sleeping bags out and curled up on the floor. Surprisingly enough, we slept pretty well, considering night time is when all the construction projects are worked on at Heathrow Airport!


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi Guys,

Ireland was lovely, but Scotland is my absolute favorite. Thank you thank you thank you for my postcard. It hangs in a position of honor on my refrig. I envy you. Hurry up and update your blog site. I really enjoy this.


Diane Reese

p.s. I thought that was a dead body on the side of the road.....nope, that was Nick.

1:56 PM

Anonymous Kay said...

hey guys

It's kay here! It looks like you guys are haveing fun over there. I hope your working too! But knowing you guys you are working hard! Well, hope to see you guys soon but I hope your haveing fun and I hope your loveing it over there!
love ya, kay your cuz

11:27 PM


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