Highlands, Lowlands & UplandsPosted: August 17, 2011
We had seen the weather forecast! The whole of Scotland was awash!!! Still, we planned to meander our way through the Scottish Highlands to the Isle of Skye, and thats what we did.
The drive there was beautiful and the weather held out. The West coast has glimpses of the Norwegian coast without the height and rockyness of the mountains. Looking at a map, the same craggy coastal shapes and islands are evident. Lochs instead of Fjords. Mulls and Scottish names for the islands; Arran, Kintyre, Rum, Canna, Muck and Eigg!
Unfortunately a 3 hour wait for the ferry at the southern end of the island, set us back from seeing more of Skye that day. The following day the rain had arrived. We huddled in a cafe in the capital, Portree, with every other tourist in Skye and waited for a break in the cloudy, drizzling sky. Whilst waiting, we had a wonderful surprise. An email arrived from Swiss friends, Susanne and Thomas! They were in Dundee with their son, Christoph, and Luciano, our friend from Maniago living in Switzerland and Susannes father, was arriving that night.
A surprise for Luciano was arranged and we decided to take the scenic road to Dundee and miss the rest of Skye!
Following The Malt Whiskey trail via Inverness, passing famous distilleries and a cooperage treating barrels, crossing the Grampian Mountains, we made our way through the highlands, towards the more arable lowlands and Eastern coast to Dundee. We enjoyed a wonderful evening in the company of friends. Susanne is a gourmet chef and the 5 course dinner was delicious ending with a superb Swiss style apple tart. After many long tales, some cards and breakfast the next day, we left them to prepare for their outing to the Edinburgh Tattoo, and we headed diagonally across Scotland, towards the Southern Uplands towards our ferry, crossing the North Channel of the Irish Sea, to Larne, Ireland.
Scotland has been a lovely country to visit. Spending time with friends has recharged our batteries as has a glimpse of the Scottish character. There seems to be an underlying passion, a fieryness, smouldering like warm coals in a grate. Ready to pounce and protect what they love. An historical character – fierce. Always a relatively small population, they have fought back the Roman armies, the invading English and the Vikings and held their country. Their clan system, present for thousands of years, ensured warriors were trained and ready.
Some of this is present, underlying today. Whilst most Scots, we are told, would vote to stay within the partnership with England, there is a growing force for independence. To us, the Scots have a peaceful, happy lifestyle, over their moors and amidst their lochs and mountains, tending their big woolly cows and sheep. This is the Scotland we have seen. This is what we have loved.