On this partly cloudy day we
drove a total of 240 miles from Oban through the Valley of Glencoe, past Loch
Ness, through Inverness, the Culloden Battlefield and on to
Day 14 - Wednesday, 21
Valley of Glencoe, Loch Ness, Culloden,
With some reluctance we left Oban. I really want to go back there
At several places in Scotland we were lucky enough to see
long-haired highland cattle. We referred to them as "shags." Unfortunately we
didn't get to see a calf like the one to the left. We found him on a postcard.
He looks like a stuffed animal complete with a leather nose.
Not very far North of Oban is Glencoe, "the weeping glen," a
valley with a sad history of massacre of a whole clan of Scots by the English.
Actually, some of the family escaped into the hills. Even the snow was
protection for these tough people. The English had come and spent the day and
evening, dining and drinking and being entertained by their hosts before they
fell upon them to kill them. The Scots code of honor says that you are
hospitable even to your enemy if he comes in peace, and that was their undoing.
Here we saw some of the most dramatic scenery of the entire trip.
We stopped at Spean Bridge where we saw a memorial monument to the
Green Berets who trained in Scotland. The thought that came to me was this:
"Because there are evil men in the world it is necessary that good men train
themselves for battle to protect what is weak yet precious." We cannot
afford to relax and enjoy our comfort, there is always someone who wants to
take what we have and make us do their bidding. Freedom must be continually
Urquhart Castle on Loch Ness was our next stop. We didn't see
Nessie, but we did see four RAF jet planes practicing above the loch and
screaming over the castle as they chased each other through the glen between
mountains. Urquhart Castle is the remains of the home of the King of the Picts.
(I later learned that my ancestry traces back to these fierce and mysterious
people called Picts.) Dramatically ensconced on the rocks at the edge of Loch
Ness, it would have been a wonderful place without the warfare. But the warfare
demanded that it be built in a way that it could be defended, so it has the
moat, the drawbridge, the walls and towers that say "castle" and
St. Columba visited here and reportedly nearly lost one of his
monks to a monster who lived in the lake. This is the first recorded report of
Nessie, although the legends and fairy tales of the Scots do speak of such a
Turning east, we visited Culloden Battlefield, where Bonnie Prince
Charlie was so horribly defeated. His men were massacred here. There are
markers that indicate clans which died together. Prince Charlie escaped, though
not to live happily ever after. He became an alcoholic and suffered depression
for the remainder of his life.
It is impossible to visit these places and not see the strong
pride and courage of these people. Sometimes this pride and courage moved over
into the arena of foolishness. There is a point at which one needs to ask
whether fighting is wise, or if there might be another way.
At Pitlochry, we stayed in Craigroyston House. After taking our
bags to our room we found a little place in town where we ate dinner, served by
a young Canadian girl, then walked down to the river to look at the fish
ladder. Interesting ladder, but no fish! At least it was peaceful. Ater all
that war stuff we needed a quiet place. The next morning we would visit a
beautiful, quiet and peaceful place - the grounds of Blair Castle.