In love with The Highlands

I invite you to listen to this playlist as you read, I have not created it, but enjoyed very much to listen while I wrote the post, enjoy!

Since I was little I liked to watch documentaries and films about epic stories. When I think about what I really like about them I can’t decide whether it is all the strategy involved in the battles, or the pride and honor at stake, or those encouraging speeches to boost the mood of armies… was it like that? I wonder as I get up from bed.

It was still dark and I was already at the dinning room waiting for breakfast, according to my watch it was getting late and I was fidgeting to leave on time for my tour to Loch Ness. Impatient I asked the first person I saw, then I learnt that in this part of the world clocks change in autumn and summer, which meant I was actually one hour earlier.

Given the distance between Edinburgh and Inverness, it was more convenient to book a tour to Loch Ness, the guide was a very nice man, whom happily told us that we shouldn’t worry about his accent, for he had well trained a neutral accent, still he taught us how to pronounce the word ‘Loch’ properly, and helped translate some other Gaelic words that we saw along the road.

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Road signs in English & Gaelic

 

Seating by the window I could watch how the scenery changed, a few minutes after leaving Edinburgh I could already see the green fields covered by lots of white furry dots, yes, sheep everywhere, the classic film scene: Green fields, grey sky and sheep! Which were replaced, as the bus entered the highlands, by mountains covered by trees on both sides of the road, a festival of colors yellow, orange, brown, red, contrasting the perpetual grey of the sky.

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Somewhere in the Highlands

I am thinking about the clans that inhabited these lands, did they walk through these mountains? did they run through narrow paths in the middle of these woods like in the films? in this cold weather, did they really wear only kilts? How would it be if everyone still spoke Gaelic?… I didn’t know that Mac in Gaelic means ‘Son of’, so MacDougal is the son of Dougal, new information has been recorded. All these thoughts invade my head as the music of bagpipes and Celtic songs play on the background, the guide makes an announcement, and I come back from my thoughts…

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People trying to capture Ben Nevis

The bus stops and we are supposed to see Ben (Gaelic word for mountain peak) Nevis, it is raining cats and dogs outside, the mix of fog, heavy rain and clouds cover the mountain, we can only see the base of it. Yet people suddenly discover a great ability to defy nature for the sake of a picture (me included), the wind is so strong that I can barely step forward and my hair flies in all directions. Here we are a group of tourists guessing where the mountain is, and so will do our friends when we show them the pictures.

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Guess how the mountain looks like

The next stop is a little shop where we can grab a coffee to bring back the warmth to our bodies.The guide suggests to try the sample of whisky, three shots might help us see Nessie, well, I follow the advice and even try five, let’s see if it increases the chances.

Finally we arrive to Loch Ness, but first a visit to the remains of Urquhart Castle. Old stones are piled on top of each other forming a few walls that still stand, it is hard to imagine how it was in its good times, but the location is appealing. I can’t resist to imagine: who lived there? if they stopped by the window staring for a long time into the loch? how does the view look like when it is sunny? If the sun ever shines here…

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Urquhart Castle and Loch Ness

The sight of the boat breaks the line of my thoughts, time to get on board for a short boat ride to the opposite shore. Finally I am closer to Nessie, I am in the middle of the lake, no one has seen it in ages, we don’t even know if it was ever real, yet my eyes can’t stop to search in the horizon, to see if anything appears out of the black water, I am six years old again, hoping to see monsters in mysterious locations, but nothing happens.

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Loch Ness

The boat reaches the shore and the adventure is finished, time to get back to the bus and start the way to Edinburgh, I didn’t see Nessie, but I loved the drive through the highlands, the view of sheep on the green fields and the remains of the castle, my expectations were not disappointed. Just as if guessing the sadness in our minds, our guide presses play and the bus is filled with The Red Hot Chilli Pipers music, an energetic mix of bagpipes and rock (called Celtic Rock) to top up the day.

In the next two days I also went to Stirling and Saint Andrews… I left Edinburgh with my heart filled of joy, I had finally been to Scotland and the Scottish Highlands, I had seen far more than I dreamed when I was a little girl. The Scottish trip was over, and I promised to myself I will come back for more, Edinburgh left a mark in me, and the highlands amazed me, next time I will not see them through a bus window, next time I will walk those narrow paths. It is time to leave, for now.

As the bus approaches London and my heart still beats to the rhythm of bagpipes, I hear a voice in my dreams… it says ‘close your eyes and I’ll kiss you…’ already setting up the mood for the Liverpool trip… and I close my eyes.

Hasta pronto! See you soon! Auf Wiedersehen! A presto! Au revoir!