On the Sunday, I did a Highlands tour. Since I was only up in Scotland for a short time and was by myself, I figured that a tour would be the best way to go. There was nothing wrong with the tour per se – it covered a large area and the guide was very knowledgeable, however it confirmed to me that tours are not really my thing. We would drive past areas that looked amazing, that I really wanted to stop in, and come time for lunch or a meal break, we’d stop at some token tourist spot and spend far too long there. I’d much prefer to hire a car and just explore with a few friends.
In any case, the scenery was very beautiful, and the pictures are more descriptive than my words could ever be.
The first stop was Callander. Nothing of note really, I guess you would say this was a transition part of Scotland, just before the landscape changes and becomes the highlands proper.
Glen Coe was the next stop. The Massacre of Glencoe occurred in the early morning of 13 February 1692. It’s quite an interesting tale, and revolves around clan rivalries and allegiances to kinds and the like. In short, Alastair Maclain, 12th Chief of Glencoe, was a day late is signing his allegiance to King James. James, not receiving the allegiance on the deadline, decided it would be a good idea to make an example of the Maclains by destroying the entire village and everyone in it. What a nice chap.
Next, is Fort Augustus and Loch Ness. I was surprised at just how un-touristy this area was. Perhaps it’s not the usual stop off for Loch Ness? In any case, the Loch itself is very beautiful, but to be honest some of the ones the bus whizzed past looked even more impressive. What I found quite interesting was the Caledonian Canal. Because the Highlands are so mountainous, in 1803 it was decided to build a canal system to connect all the Lochs of ”The Great Glen”. It also provided much needed employment in the area at the time.
The canals contain locks. What happens is that boats enter the canal , then the locks are opened which adjusts the water level to be even. This happens for a few locks in a given section of the canal, and allows boats to travel from loch to loch despite the fact that they are at different levels. Probably not the best explanation, but it was rather interesting to see.
Finally, we stopped in a town called Pitlochry. Quaint and charming, but it was late on Sunday, everything was closed and the line to the toilet was longer than the time we were stopping.