Highlands of Scotland

Scottish CastleDoune3I blame Diana Gabaldon and Lynn Kurland for my fascination with the highlands of Scotland. I’ve wanted to go there ever since I read their novels (in particular, Outlander and A Garden in the Rain). Imagine a modern-day heroine, alone in Scotland, lost, and suddenly swept back into the past. She endures hardships ranging from ancient plumbing to almost dying. When things look especially grim, she meets the man of her dreams and lives in a castle. How can that invoke anything other than fascination?

My time was limited, so I took a one day Timberbush tour out of Edinburgh to the West Highland Lochs and many castles. If you’re short on time, I highly recommend Timberbush.

Doune2We started at Doune Castle, which should be familiar to any Monty Python fan. Soon, though, it will be known as the Mackenzie clan castle in Outlander.

Pardon me as I take a quick time out to do a happy dance!! I really can’t wait for that series to premiere. (Neither can Pocket Jamie.)

The castle is either a bit run-down or suitably rustic, depending on your viewpoint. I thought it was beautiful, and it’s perfect for the Outlander series.

Kilchurn CastleNext, we saw Kilchurn Castle (yes, I thought of Jackson Kilchurn) from across Loch Awe.

It was hard to get a good, pristine picture of it from where we stopped. Actually, the scenery is so gorgeous that I didn’t even notice all my photos included power lines until I looked at them later that day.

Highland RoadThe roads of the highlands reminded me of Alaska’s highway system. Two-lane roads with not much of a shoulder. Except, of course, they drive on the other side of the road there.

The highlands are a place I hope to explore at a slower pace sometime soon. I want to get up to Aberdeen, stop at Culloden, check out Inverness, see the Isle of Skye. I should plan on a week. At least.

Highlands1HighlandCowFollowing the grand tradition of tour buses everywhere, we stopped to visit Hamish the Highland Cow. Hamish didn’t say much. He was very muddy and more interested in carrots than interaction. I thought about cattle thieves in the books I’d read and decided it must have been a very dirty business with all that mud and hair.

As we drove through the highlands, our driver played stirring bagpipe music and told us about Clan Campbell and their dastardly part in the tragedy at Glen Coe.

Inverary CastleThen we went right into the heart of Clan Campbell, to Inveraray Castle. It didn’t appear to be the heart of evil. It was very beautiful with a formal garden and a large gift shop.

Highland HillA woman on the tour got really excited about this castle because it had just been featured heavily in the series Downton Abbey. I haven’t had time to watch that series yet, but I’m sure I’ll get appropriately giddy when I do watch it.

Rest and be Thankful PassAfter a brief respite in the gorgeous highland pass called Rest and Be Thankful, we made our way to Loch Lomond.

Loch LomondAfter that, there was only one castle left: Stirling Castle. It sits high on a volcanic rock like Edinburgh Castle. We only saw it from the road below, but it looked impressive.

Stirling CastleThis was just a taste of the highlands. It left me hungry for more, and I’m making a list for next time.


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