Hauntings and the Highlands

Happy Halloween/ Samhuinn!

Samhuinn is recorded in Irish history from the 10th century.  It’s truly a fascinating story about Winter overthrowing Summer, and the Beltane Fire Society website can tell you the story much better than I.  Since I refuse to pay $60.00 just for the WordPress video upgrade, you can see video I shot of the parade on Facebook here- Samhuinn 1, Samhuinn 2

My classmates FORCED me (admittedly without much fight) to dress up for Halloween, so I tore up my original sandpaper-esque duvet and went as a mermaid. Not bad for a bed sheet, huh?!  My flat mates and I  headed to High Street and met up with my classmates to watch the parade. So much fun!

Two combined.


Yay for traditional celebrations!  Now on to Highland Adventures!!

Travel tip #17… Learn how to set your freaking alarm clock.  I had grandiose plans of waking up at 5:45, having a nice cup of coffee with breakfast, and taking the early bus so I would make it to the tour bus by 8 AM.  Big fat NOPE!!! I rolled over to read 7:30 on my clock and almost CHOKED- I threw on my clothes in a panic, grabbed whatever food I happened to have in the fridge, and sprinted to the bus stop by 7:40.  Nothing like an early morning panic to get the adrenaline pumping.  But I made it by 7:50, BAM!!  I’m glad I woke up in time, since the tour guide was ADORABLE and wore a kilt to go with his Scottish accent… Just saying, it was a lovely addition 😉

Stirling

Stirling Castle and the Wallace Monument

Our first stop was Stirling to take pictures of the castle and use the loo.  From there we crossed the valley to hike up to the Wallace Monument, dedicated to William Wallace-aka Braveheart.  Our tour guide told us the true story and the movie Braveheart have quite a few differences, but it’s still his favorite haha.

IMG_0094

We stopped for a few minutes at Lake Tunnah (or something…) and then on to Glencoe, in the pictures above.  I loved it here. It could have been Hatchers Pass.  I kept thinking how much fun it would be to go hiking in REAL mountains!

Next was Glenfinnan, where the Hogwarts Express goes over the arched bridge!  It has been fondly re-named the Harry Potter Bridge, and a bunch of the filming was done in this area.  The monument at Glenfinnan is of Bonnie Prince Charlie, who lead the Scottish against the British during the Jacobite uprising.  He was the one in charge when the Scots were massacred at the Battle of Culloden. We visited the battlefield too, you’ll see more on that below.

Harry Potter Bridge

Our last stop for Day 1 was Loch Ness- because you can’t come to the Highlands without visiting Loch Ness!! It was truly beautiful, and reminded me a lot of Tangle Lakes back home.  Dad would LOVE to canoe out there. The middle photo is us doing the “Nessie Dance” to coax her to the surface… But alas, we must not have tried hard enough 🙂  On to Inverness, dinner, and bedtime.

Loch Ness


Highlands Trip Day 2

We had breakfast at the hostel, then headed to the Clava Cairns just outside Culloden.  Seriously, check out these amazing rock structures! How the heck did people in prehistoric times do this stuff?!  The structures are made out of foreign stone (aka they had to be hauled here) and they are perfectly aligned to the sun path so the chambers would fill with sunlight at the right time of year.  Can you see the way the standing stones radiate from the central structure, like sun beams?  DUDE…

Clava Cairns

Next, the battlefield of Culloden.  Now I’m usually not one for battle history, but this one is just sad.  The incredibly ill-prepared Scots were out numbered and out-gunned; and while the British casualties numbered in the low hundreds, more than 1500 Scots lost their lives.  In the end, this battle would mark the beginning of the decline of Gaelic culture.  The British outlawed the Gaelic language, the bagpipes, Highland weapons, and the clan system (which was a Highlander’s entire identity and pride- no clan, no identity).  The Highland Clearances were issued to essentially force all those living in the highlands to move to the Lowlands.  An incredibly sad example of cultural cleansing.

Culloden

Each bumped out stone along this wall represents a Scot who was killed in the battle.

Hermitage and Dunkeld

We stopped for lunch at a little town called Pitlochry.  I LOVED this little town- it was quaint, quiet, and had the best fish and chips I have EVER had.  We went out on the dam to see the water and salmon ladders, then moved on to the Hermitage.  The Hermitage is a great forest walk out towards an awesome waterfall and the biggest redwood tree in Scotland.  It was gorgeous here- I definitely want to go back.  The Hermitage was right across the street from Dunkeld, and the Dunkeld Cathedral.  We stopped to see the cathedral then headed home.  A minor traffic jam, then finally HOME!  And homework. And bed.

All in all, a fantastic weekend- definitely one for the books.  I have to say the scenery made me quite homesick, but it was so nice to see that landscape again.  I don’t know if the mountain girl in me will ever adjust to the city life.  I don’t think it’s an adjustment I want, anyway 🙂

Thanks for reading, I know it was a lot of information this week!

Love and Laughs,

-Taylor

 

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