Day 4 – Go West Young Man
On Sunday we decided that we were going to head west. The plan was to follow this route from Aberfeldy to Glencoe, then on to Oban before coming back home in the evening. It would be a lot of driving (about 2 1/2 hours one-way) but we felt the destinations were worth it.
Amy wasn’t feeling well again, so she and Andrew decided to stay back in the room. We were sad that they couldn’t join us, but Amy got some much needed rest and Andrew had some adventures of his own. Hopefully he’ll post about it.
Shortly after we left the resort we came upon our first up-close and personal sheep. They were a common occurrence all over Scotland, but these were crossing the road right in front of our car.
Then while driving along A827 through the town of Killin, we crossed a one lane bridge and came upon this gorgeous wide berth of the Falls of Dochart. As always, feel free to click on any photo for a larger view.
Of course we had to stop and do a little bit of exploring here…even though there was a light rain falling. Overall we had better weather than expected through the whole trip. Oh, we had a little bit of rain nearly every day, but really only one day where we came home somewhat soggy. For the most part we could expect the weather to change almost hourly, going from sunny to cloudy to sprinkling to raining and back again throughout the day.
An island in the middle of the river on the downstream side of the bridge is known as Innis Bhuidhe. This is home to the Clan MacNab Burial Ground. Its use dates back to the 1700s. An oblong enclosure within the burial ground is home to fifteen graves, nine of which are the final resting places of clan chiefs, plus a medieval grave slab which suggests that at least one earlier burial did take place here. Unfortunately there was a locked gate on the bridge that kept us from getting inside, so this is all we were able to see. However, if you have a little bit of time, there's a sign on the gate that says you can get the key from a nearby building.
After our pit stop we headed back out toward the road to Glencoe. At one point we had to stop for a few minutes for road construction and I snapped this photo of the vegetation at the side of the road. I just love the dozens, or would you say hundreds of shades of green…and how many different types of plants can you pick out?
Next we were finally on to Glencoe, a lush, misty and gorgeous part of the Scottish Highlands! It is also the historic home of the tragic Glencoe Massacre of 1692 which adds an even more haunting air to the area. We were told by those who would know, that watching the hovering clouds and mist shift and change in the valley is the only way to see the glen.
At one of the roadside overlooks we also came upon this bagpiper picking up a few extra pounds (sterling, that is). He was decked out in the full kilt ensemble so tourists could pose for photos with him or just snap a few pics, like we did. What’s your feeling about tourist teases like this? On one hand it’s hard to condemn the man for trying to make some money and he’s providing a service in some way. On the other hand it feels a bit contrived and artificial. I’d love to hear your thoughts.
For those who may not be aware, the kilt is a knee-length garment with pleats at the back, originating in the traditional dress of men and boys in the Scottish Highlands of the 16th century. I think the look is quite handsome myself and love the endless varieties of tartan plaids that are used to represent the different clans.
Soon we were getting hungry and realized that there weren’t too many options for eating establishments ahead, so we decided to stop in Glencoe Village to see if we could find a place for lunch. This is the main street in the village, just a little wider than one lane so pay attention as you drive, in case you need to share the space with an oncoming vehicle.
The village sits at the entrance to Glen Coe and is surrounded by spectacular mountain scenery. It’s popular with serious hill-walkers, rock and ice climbers. The picturesque mountains have also been seen in numerous films, including Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban as the home of Hagrid. I didn’t realize it before we went, but it’s possible that we could have gone on a Harry Potter Safari. I guess that will have to wait until next time. Here’s a list of all the movies, to date that have scenes from The Glen. [This is a bit off the subject, but after living near Los Angeles (the film-making capitol of the world) for 18 years, I've always thought it would be a dream job to be a location scout. Wouldn't you just love having the responsibility of searching for all those amazing spots where they film your favorite movies? But I digress...]
IT’S ALL ABOUT THE FOOD: We parked our car in the public parking lot and walked down the street until we found the Glencoe Cafe. Since the town is very small and relatively remote, we really had no idea what the quality would be like. Sometimes remote areas (in the U.S. too) don’t have the competition to encourage high quality foods, good service and/or low prices, so we were taking our chances here. I have to say that the owners obviously take great pride in their establishment because they had an extensive menu of freshly made fare, cheerful service and some delicious offerings! We were NOT disappointed. This is a photo of my lunch. A light and tasty shrimp salad sandwich made with homemade lemon mayonnaise, accompanied by a wonderful green side salad. Mmmmm! I loved it and the rest of our group was just as pleased with their choices! Be sure to stop by and enjoy the culinary creations of Justine Macleod and James Robertson if you’re in the area someday.
As we left the Glen and headed down the coast toward Oban, we were greeted with this rainbow. One of many that we’d see in our 2 weeks of vacation, but this one was a double treat with the reflection in the water. Truly a gift from God. We knew then that it was going to be a great day!
I’M A FAN OF…WATER: Living in the desert for decades has created a deep appreciation in my soul for water of every kind and this vacation was a true refreshment for me. How do you feel about rainy days? Do you cherish them or do you just survive them?
TRAVEL TIP TODAY: A bit random, I know, but something to consider. If you have hair that’s difficult to manage in wet weather, try to find a style that’s easy to take care of before you leave home. Talk to your stylist and see if they can provide some suggestions. My hair is generally straight in the bone-dry desert, but I knew that the little bit of natural curl would quickly respond to the rain and humidity where we were going. I asked my stylist to cut my hair short enough so that I could just let it go curly and not worry about it sticking out here and there in my normal style, which I did. I also asked for a suggestion on a product that might help it stay curly and she recommend Redken Ringlet 07 Curl Perfector which worked like a charm to “encourage” my wavy hair to hold some curl. This cut down on the amount of hair products and styling tools that I needed to pack. Plus it shaved precious minutes off the time that I needed to get ready each day and lowered the stress on keeping my hair in place.