Standing on the dock overlooking Loch Lomond (located near Greenock, Scotland) as a Canadian you can feel right at home amid outstanding scenery of mountains, forests, and the serenity of the lake. Breathing in the clean fresh air, admiring the views of nature all around, and simply being there at that moment captured in a snapshot (on your camera or mobile device) or in your mind as a mental picture along with a feeling of release and relaxation in appreciation of this really beautiful spot.
Stornoway, on the Isle of Lewis, in the Outer Hebrides of Scotland, is an intriguing place with a heritage of Gaels, Celts, and Vikings. Past the Herring Girl statue by the pier a short distance along the main street is Lews Castle recently under refurbishment and restoration coupled with the development and construction of a new museum and archive – an exciting and innovative project in partnership with Historic Scotland and Highlands and Islands. Did you know there are more sheep than people in this area? An area well known for it’s famous ‘Harris Tweed’ - 100% wool cloth hand-woven by the islanders at their homes (look for the official Harris Tweed Authority label).
After centuries of trying to rid the country of the various clans and extinguish their language and culture, slowly it is all coming back with the reclaiming of land, language, music and dance of these hearty people who live in a rugged land (often windy, wet, cold ….even in the middle of August.) For those who enjoy the outdoors you will truly enjoy the dramatic scenery regardless of the weather. The mist, fog or low clouds only add a mystic element during a countryside drive with ever changing views around the bend or over rolling hills dotted with heather and through lush green valleys like the “Rest and Be Thankful” lookout and even by long stretches of beach.
Back on the main land and towards the top of the country you will find Scrabster and “The Castle of Mey” (the former home of the late Queen Mother), an old farm house by the sea where the tourists explore the elaborate walled floral, fruit, and vegetable gardens and a glimpse into the lives of the Royals by touring the house admiring the large dining room to the kitchen with an ocean view.
Arriving by cruise ship* to the Port of Rosyth is an exciting venture approaching the engineering marvel of the iconic steel rail Firth of Forth Bridge (in operation since 1890) and then under the newer modern suspension bridges into a busy industrial dock yard. From here this is the gateway to beautiful, brilliant and breathtaking Edinburgh - Scotland’s vibrant capital dominated by the famous Edinburgh Castle. Attending the spectacular Royal Military Tattoo is an event you will not want to miss in your lifetime. The stands with comfortable seats are set up on the Castle Esplanade is crowded with spectators representing many countries from all around the world. The evening open air performance is a celebration of music, dance, military pageantry with fireworks and other displays including the riveting lone bagpiper under spotlight.
(*read my blog in CT’s September Sail Away Newsletter about the Swan Hellenic’s ms Minerva)
Do plan a visit to Scotland where many things Scottish will put a smile on your face.
As the tourist people say, you’ll sure want to return (“Aye, haste ye back”).
Other nature inspired travels include Alaska, Yukon, Canadian Rockies, Norway, Iceland, Shetland Islands…..