From Ladies of the Lake To Loch Storr Monsters

“The Trossachs are often visited by persons of taste, who are desirous of seeing nature in her rudest and most unpolished state.” – Callander parish minister Dr. Robertson (1791).

The next stop on our visit was The Loch Lomond and the Trossachs National Park, Scotland’s first National Park, established in 2002. (Loch is Scotland’s word for lake.)  The Trossachs has inspired many a poem, including several by William Wordsworth, his sister Dorothy, Samuel Coleridge, and Sir Walter Scott.  In fact, Sir Walter Scott’s best selling work, Lady of the Lake, is set in and around Loch Katrine.  Loch Katrine also appears in Jules Verne’s The Underground City.

DSC_0243

DSC_0233

DSC_0234

DSC_0248

DSC_0245.JPG_1

DSC_0237

DSC_0235

The Trossachs is home to allegedly one of the most haunted places in Scotland – the Drover’s Inn.

DSC_0263.JPG_1

If you are into ghosts, click here to read about all the ghost sightings that have been reported (be wary of the video though – it has a trick at the end).  My mom – a major ghost/supernatural believer and avid ghost/bigfoot show watcher – wanted us to do a EVP session (still not sure what that means), but instead of riling the ghosts, we simply had a beer and made sure to be on our way long before nightfall.

Also along our driving tour, we stopped to see the Glencoe Valley, home to mountains known as the “Three Sisters.”

DSC_0180

DSC_0201

Afterwards, we stopped at Glenfinnan.  Glenfinnan is known for two very different teenagers: Harry Potter and the Bonnie Prince Charlie.

Well known now as the home to the viaduct that appears in the Harry Potter movies (see picture below), Glenfinnan has a tragic past.  It was here that the Bonnie Prince Charlie first raised his father’s standard.  The monument you see in the pictures below is a memorial for the Highlanders that lost their lives because they supported the Bonnie Prince.  If you are at all interested in the Prince’s claim to the British throne, click here.

IMG_2647

DSC_0212

DSC_0219

DSC_0226

Finally, we visited the Isle of Skye.  Unfortunately, we had terrible weather – at one point, I truly thought I might be blown off the side of a mountain.  So my pictures aren’t what they could have been – as I was trying to protect my camera from the rain – but even in the rain, Scotland is hauntingly beautiful.

DSC_0419

DSC_0420

DSC_0421

DSC_0428 (1)

DSC_0432

DSC_0433

DSC_0434

DSC_0435

DSC_0447

DSC_0458

DSC_0461

At the end of our climb, my best friend – who is my forever travel partner – claimed she had a “loch” in her boot, thereby proclaiming the creation of Loch Storr, and after spending hours in the downpour and wind, we were its monsters.

 

Bonnie Prince Charlie

Charles Edward Stuart, better known as Bonnie Prince Charlie, was the eldest son of James Francis Edward Stuart, “The Old Pretender,” and grandson of James II of England and Ireland (James VII of Scotland).  James II/VII was deposed and exiled to Continental Europe by his daughter Mary and her husband William of Orange in what is now called “The Glorious Revolution.”

After Mary and William’s death, Mary’s sister Anne became Queen until her death in 1714.  During Anne’s reign, Parliament enacted the Act of Settlement, which banned Catholic monarchs from the British throne – effectively disinheriting James Francis Edward Stuart (Mary and Anne’s brother) and the Bonnie Prince Charlie (Mary and Anne’s nephew).  After Anne’s death, the throne passed to a great-grandson of James I, George I of Hanover.

Bonnie

Obviously feeling slighted, Bonnie Prince Charlie decided to win back the throne for his father.  In 1745, the Prince traveled to Scotland with a force mustered in France to rally the Highlanders to his cause.  Those that answered his call were known as “Jacobites.”

The rebellion (now known as The “Forty-Five”) was ill-fated.  Charles was able to defeat the English government in Scotland and move South to Northern England, but rather than press his advantage and march on London, he turned around and returned to Scotland, closely followed by the British Army, led by Prince William, Duke of Cumberland.

The tired and poorly fed Jacobite troops met the British army at Culloden Moor.  The battle lasted less than an hour, and the Jacobites were routed.  More significant, however, is the aftermath of the battle.  In response to the rebellion, the British government effectively banned Highland culture and massacred the clans that had fought for the Prince.

DSC_0491

DSC_0495

DSC_0490

DSC_0485

DSC_0487.JPG_1

DSC_0486

Welcome to Edinburgh

Today was my first day back in the real world, and needless to say, I am coming down from my travel high.  What a whirlwind of a trip.  If I could sum up Scotland in a single phrase, it would be: “majestically dramatic.”  The imposing nature of the landscape created both a mysterious and daunting atmosphere – making writing about it similarly daunting.  So I am going to give you my thoughts on a piecemeal basis.  Today, starting with Edinburgh.

Edinburgh Castle

DSC_0016The Sir Walter Scott Monument

DSC_0067

Sir Walter Scott is one of the many authors that was born in Scotland.  He wrote the Waverley novels, including Ivanhoe and Rob Roy.   (Other Scottish literary figures include Robert Burns, Robert Louis Stevenson, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, and J.K. Rowling.)  Scott’s work celebrates Highland culture, which – at the time – was in danger of being eradicated, and his work has been attributed to reviving it.

King Arthur’s Seat

DSC_0091.jpg

Climbing this hill was one of my favorite things that we did the whole trip.  And the view from the top of the hill – incredible:

DSC_0118 (1).jpg

DSC_0120.jpg

We did make the mistake of not bringing water on our trek.  Major failure.  Bring water.

A fun fact about Edinburgh – if you are a Harry Potter fan – is that it provided inspiration to J.K. Rowling.  For instance, Diagon Alley is said to be based on Victoria Street, Hogwarts is supposedly inspired by an Edinburgh prep school – George Heriot’s, and the names of McGonagall and Tom Riddell come from Greyfriars Kirkyard.

DSC_0031
Victoria’s Street aka Diagon Alley
DSC_0041
Tom Riddell and His Father
DSC_0038
McGonagall’s Grave 
DSC_0065.JPG_1
J.K. Rowling’s Handprints

 

I am currently rereading the Harry Potter books – I am on the Prisoner of Azkaban – for the first time as an adult, and it is fascinating what I missed when I read them as a child/teen.

But, back to Edinburgh, we did a lot of eating and drinking, and I have listed by favorite places below.

Montpeliers Bar & Brasserie

The Dragonfly

IMG_2537

The Grain Store

IMG_2539

We also went to a few others, including Black Pig & Oyster, The Kitchin, and Café Tartine.  All three are in the same stretch near the Royal Britannia , next to a beautiful fountain, with seating outside.

Next up – Trossachs National Park.

Pack with me for Scotland

As I get ready for my trip, I thought I would share what I am packing.  I have never been to Scotland before so packing has included some guesswork.  By the end of the trip, I can share with you what worked and what didn’t, but for now, here are some of  – what I am assuming – will be the essentials.

IMG_2293

During our trip, the weather is generally “mostly cloudy” with highs in the low 70s/ high 60s and lows in the 50s.  Rain is also likely.  So item one on the list is a rain jacket.  My rain jacket is the Venture 2 jacket from North Face.  My hiking boots are Oboz Bridger Mid in Walnut.  My leggings are from Lulu Lemon, and I got my sweatshirt while hiking in West Glacier, Montana (a trip that is definitely worth taking if you’ve been thinking about visiting out-West).

IMG_2350.jpg

We rented a car for our trip, and I was unaware that Hertz required non-EU citizens to have an international driving permit until yesterday… so I was in a panic.  But, as it turns out, it is SUPER easy to get one.  You just need two passport photos – which i got in about two minutes at CVS – and your license.  Then just fill out this easy form, and take it to your nearest AAA.  The whole process took about five minutes, and I walked out of AAA with a permit – same day.  So if you booked a car and didn’t realize that you needed a permit, don’t panic.  I’m just hoping that this international driving excursion turns out better than my last one…. When I went on a trip to Ireland, I ended up totaling the car.  However, in my defense, the roads there are treacherous.  In fact, when we were returning the car, the lady at the rental agency was on the phone with someone who had crashed within five hours of picking up the car.  My advice – get the insurance.  It is worth it.

On another note, I have recently become a makeup geek – the only other lady at my office is a makeup goddess and she turned me on to the beauty industry; now I can’t get enough … which, if you’ve read my other post, is a ongoing theme in my personality.

In any event, choosing what products to bring with me when I travel has become difficult.  (As one of my best friends would say – what a “champaign problem.”)  I do, however, have a few specific products that I know I can rely on and therefore they come with me on every trip. They include, in no particular order: physician’s formula butter bronzer, Tarte shape tape, Two Faced’s Better Than Sex mascara (this mascara gets sold out very quickly – but it is also available at sephora, Marc Jacob’s velvet noir major mascara, Maybelline Fit Me matte and poreless powder, Laura Mercier translucent loose setting powder, and Chloé Eau de Parfum (the scent lasts FOREVER and I am in love with it).

IMG_2327

My current obsession is this new wallet that I bought for this trip from Aspinal of London.  It has dividers for tickets, passport, documents, and boarding passes, along with a little pouch for change.  It seemed perfect when I bought it, but it has yet to stand the test of actually being used – so I will let you know how it worked out.  For now, it seemed like a great investment.

IMG_2347.jpg

Finally, choosing a book to come with me is also a challenging task.  I’m currently in the middle of a couple – I tend to read multiple books at once because I never know what kind of reading I will be in the mood for night-to-night – but I don’t usually like to bring one that I have already started when I am traveling.  Bringing a brand new book avoids the problem of finishing one before the trip is over, and having to lug two books home.  Additionally, the book needs to be paper-back so that I can lug it around with me without feeling like my arm is going to fall off.  My problem there is that I am a super for hard-back books, so most of the books that I own that are on my “to-read” list are hardbacks.

The few that I do have are mostly history and include:

  • Allison Weir’s Queen Isabella
  • Peter Ackroyd’s Shakespeare 
  • Lawrence Goldstone’s The Activist 
  • Roger Crowley’s City of Fortune: How Venice Ruled the Seas
  • Anthony Everitt’s Cicero: The Life and Times of Rome’s Greatest Politician

I still am up in the air, but I’ll let you know what I end up choosing.