Monday, September 13, 2010


Before I begin, let me say that I was married 30 years before we went on our honeymoon. Before that vacations were few and far between and mostly spent camping. My husband is a reformed workaholic. I used to wish he were home more. Now I wish he wasn’t mostly retired. Be careful what you wish for….

A big chunk of our vacation this year was spent in Scotland. I always thought that Canada was the most beautiful place in the world with its vast and varied landscapes. Now, I know that other places can be just a lovely. Scotland has a huge variety of landscapes, and each comes upon you in a rush as you travel down the highways. In a matter of only five miles you can see mountains, valleys, farmland, forests, highlands, lowlands, lakes, moors and rocky plains. It changes so quickly that it is breathtaking.

We spent eight days traveling and staying in a variety of bed and breakfasts. We put 1150 miles on that rental car. Let me tell you it sure is scary being a passenger when the driver is on the wrong side of the car on the wrong side of the road. We won’t even get into the damage on the front left tire…

Our personal trip highlights included Loch Ness, the ocean at Nairn, Clava Cairns and dozens of castles and ruins.

One of the cairns at Clava Cairn and a lovely old tree there.
I’ve always been a believer in Nessie. Sadly we didn’t get to see her, but when you look into the depths of
Loch Ness, you can’t help but believe. I wish we had had more time to loiter there, maybe for some late evening walks. I like to think that she would have showed herself. (I’m only marginally delusional.) While at Loch Ness, we visited Urquart Castle. Well maintained they were fascinating but swamped with tourists. But for us, the beauty of castles lies in the hard to reach places that the tour buses don’t get to.
We found one castle quite by accident, as they aren’t all on the maps. We traipsed up a dirt road, crossed a fence, wandered up the mud path, through the sheep fields full of sheep and up a small hill. I think it was about a mile or more. At the top of the hill was Castle Auchindoun. We passed one couple on our way up but aside from them, we were the only people there. We were able to climb all over the walls and spent time just sitting and thinking about castle life. Very inspiring, there may be a pattern out of this trip. I’ve got dozens of ideas scampering through my head I just need to get them down on paper before they dissipate.

Spent three days staying at Warthill Castle. It’s a private home that sometimes is a bed and breakfast. It was great! Everywhere you looked were stories of the life of the Lesley family who have lived there since 1050. Ancient and modern mingled to give a glimpse of life and history you rarely ever see. They own 2500 acres of land. Even in a country as big as Canada, you rarely see such huge estates. Beautifully treed, it was teaming with wildlife. Deer, rabbits, and birds were everywhere. Part of their land was for crops and cattle, but near the castle itself were rich lawns and lush forests. It was interesting to learn the family history and of all the renovations to the castle itself. A tiny castle grew and grew over the years until tough times forced the family to sell off much of the fancy-work and copper ducting outside the newest parts of the hall. Without proper drainage, those parts of the castle started to fall into disarray and were torn down. A large part of the castle still stands and is quite lovely. I wish I could have seen it when it was at its largest, most grand stage.

All-in-all, one cannot sum up a vacation in only words and a few pictures. The memories will linger on, with photographs and momentos to keep us going.

Until next time,   Cath

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