Scotland
September 2006
The Old Town section of Edinburgh, with Edinburgh Castle occupying the highest ground in the distance, on the right.
The Sir Walter Scott Monument, Edinburgh.
The Royal Mile, which leads from Edinburgh Castle down to the Palace of Holyroodhouse.
St. Giles Street, just off the Royal Mile.
The entrance to Edinburgh Castle.
The outer gate to Edinburgh Castle, with its portcullis.
The view to the northeast from Edinburgh Castle.
The view to the north from Edinburgh Castle, including Princes Street, the heart of modern Edinburgh (and a major bus route, to which the line of double-deckers attests). The body of water is the Firth of Forth.
The view to the northwest from Edinburgh Castle.
One of the royal apartments in Edinburgh Castle, occupied at one time by Mary Queen of Scots.
Looks like a statue, but....
...this statue comes to life.
The Canongate Tollbooth on the Royal Mile, built in 1591.
Buskers in full regalia.
The locals take advantage of unusually fine weather in the park below the Sir Walter Scott Monument and the Balmoral Hotel.
A view of the Old Town (high ground, center) and New Town (lower ground, right) sections of Edinburgh, seen from Calton Hill.
The Palace of Holyroodhouse, official residence of Queen Elizabeth when she's in Edinburgh. The oldest part of the palace dates to the early 16th Century.
Ruins of the Abbey Church, built in 1128, adjacent to the Palace of Holyroodhouse.
Other groups of hikers on the summit of Ben A'an, at 454 meters.
Some of my fellow hikers, on Ben A'an: guide Peter, Judy, Carita, and Fred. Ellie and Suzy joined us a day later, after they'd finally been reunited with their suitcases in Edinburgh.
Another day, another mountain, and different weather. Our group straggles up to the summit of Ben Lomond, at 974 meters, in the clouds.
Descending from Ben Lomond, we got out of the clouds, and were treated to a good view of Loch Lomond.
Loch Lomond.
The Highlands are wet, so there are waterfalls everywhere. Here, one of the falls on the Falloch River.
We next tackled the trail up Ben Nevis, the highest peak in Scotland, at 1344 meters.
Peter, Suzy, and Ellie on a break on Ben Nevis. Ellie's pants and jacket give only a slight clue to the weather. The winds became so strong, we aborted our attempt to reach the summit, and veered off into a more protected coire (a cirque, or dead-end valley) on the side of the mountain.
From the flanks of Ben Nevis, a view of the Great Glen of Scotland, the geological fault that runs the width of the country between Fort William and Inverness.
On the waterfront in Fort William.
Loch Linnhe, from Fort William.
The Glenfinnan Monument, commemorating the landing of Bonnie Prince Charlie on the Scottish mainland in 1745, as he began his ill-fated attempt to seize the throne.
There's a Scottish song called Steam Train to Mallaig. This is it.
The view from Mallaig across the Sound of Sleat to the Isle of Skye.
Our first hike on a sunny morning on the Isle of Skye. Even at fairly high elevations, however, the vegetation acts like a sponge, and we often found ourselves slogging through peat bogs.
A tarn or lochan (small mountain lake) along the trail to Coire Lagan, in the Cuillin Hills.
The rocky trail leading to our destination, the lip of Coire Lagan, upper left.
The view from Coire Lagan of Loch Brittle, and the sea beyond.
Happily, we found a drier path for our descent from Coire Lagan.
The road along Loch Harport, near Carbost, Isle of Skye.
The Black Cuillins, the most rugged of the Skye hills.
An abandoned church near Broadford, the starting point for our hike to Boreraig and Suisnish.
The ruins of Boreraig, one of the villages emptied and abandoned during the Highland Clearances of the mid 1840s, when crofters were forced off the land by the landowners, who wanted to use the land for more profitable sheep grazing. Many of those displaced ended up in Canada, the U.S., and Australia.
Bracken ferns have reclaimed most of Boreraig.
Lunch!
The shores of Loch Eishort, west of Boreraig.
The shores of Loch Eishort, west of Boreraig.
The trail along Loch Slopin, north of Suisnish, another abandoned village.
Late afternoon on Loch Slopin.
Mealt Falls and Kilt Rock on the Isle of Skye, above the Sound of Raasay, and The Minch, beyond.
On another drizzly morning, we headed into the Quirang, a collection of strange rock pinnacles.
As we reached the highest point of the Quirang, the weather cleared somewhat, though we were still just at the base of the clouds.
The harbor at Portree, the largest town on Skye.
The bustling main street of Portree.
Bringing in the catch (crabs, in this case) at Portree.
Back on the mainland, we stopped at Eilan Donan Castle, at the meeting point of three sea lochs: Alsh, Long, and Duich.
For reasons unknown, a Japanese pop group was filming a music video in front of the castle. Between takes, an assistant rushed out and wrapped a wool blanket around the lead singer.
Eilan Donan Castle.
Loch Duich.
Looks idyllic, but don't be fooled. This scene greeted us near the end of a 14-mile hike that had taken us from Loch Maree into the Letterewe Wilderness. We had periodic gusty showers, walks through soggy bogs, high winds, and crossings of several rain-swollen streams, the largest of which was about 10 meters wide, deep enough to fill our boots with water, and swift enough to threaten to knock us over. We paid for this.
A stream rushes down towards Loch Maree. Luckily, we didn't have to cross this one.
Morning on the shores of Loch Maree, in the Torridon area, seen from the Hotel Loch Maree. The hotel's claim to fame is that Queen Victoria spent several days there in 1877. This is the view from her day room. The Letterewe Wilderness is on the opposite shore.
Boats waiting for Loch Maree sport fishermen.
The lounge.
Castle Urquhart, on the shores of Loch Ness. No sign of a monster.
Changeable weather over Loch Ness.
Leanach Cottage, on the edge of Culloden Moor, the site of the ultimate defeat, in 1746, of the forces loyal to Bonnie Prince Charlie.
One of the Clava Cairns, near Culloden, Bronze Age burial sites dating to about 2000 B.C.
The start of the climb up Cairngorm Mountain, in the eastern Highlands, parallels the funicular railway. We, of course, eschewed the lazy approach.
Maybe we should have taken the tram, after all.
A group of hikers heading for the summit of Cairngorm, at 1245 meters.
Fred and Corita make their way to the summit of Cairngorm. Naturally, this put us just about at the base of the clouds.
Ellie, Suzy, Peter, and Judy at the weather station on Cairngorm. The highest windspeed ever recorded there was 173 mph. The average wind speed is about 38 mph, which is roughly what we encountered.
Picking our way down Cairngorm.
The Edradour Distillery, the smallest in Scotland.
The stills at Edradour, which yield a very nice single malt.
The symbolic end of the trip, the Forth Railway Bridge just outside Edinburgh.