Tigger's Travel's in the Highlands of Scotland,
The wet spots in England, and points in between.
OK, you have been asking for it, so here it is.
Let's start with a map.
Yep, I was all over the place, ('cept the land of the Leprechauns, but 18 months later...) But lets put the important part of the map on display.
Well, this tale has been a long time in the telling.
As history will show I took England by storm. OK, the storm actually took England before I got there, causing my flight to be re-routed to Prestwick, Scotland. Now one might think that since Scotland was my destination, this would be a good thing. Well, had they let me off the plane there, it would have been. Unfortunately we merely re-fueled in Prestwick, and waited for the weather to clear in London. Three hours... on the ground.. after eight hours in the air... with little children waking up. Can you say HOSTAGE situation? Finally we took off and made it to Heathrow. Sadly, the airport was not the only thing besought by the 90 mph winds. London was a disaster zone. And it took over 3 hours to get from Heathrow airport to Kings Crossing rail station. At this point, I thought things were picking up. In one of those classic "HOLD THE TRAIN" scenes, I managed to hop the rail to Edinburgh just as the doors were shutting. A four hour ride would get me there just in time for a late meal. Four hours... at least that is what it said on the rail guide.... forgot about the storm... oh yes.. and the fact the the UK had just suffered two high speed train wrecks, and tracks that had not yet been checked were considered unsafe. So the train slowed down to the walking speed of England's oldest surviving World War I veteran.
Midnite and I was in Edinburgh. Did things start looking up? Well, it took a bit to find the Hostel I was staying at, but yes, the situation did begin to improve. I checked in, and wandered around the city some. One thing I can say about that place, Monday is NOT a slow night for the bars. after a bit of walking, looking at the darkened sites, and starting off the trip with a shot of 21 year old Glen Morangie, I called it a night
The next day began warm & sunny. (Remember, I was in Scotland, England was still in the process of creating a lot of new beachfront properties.) First off to the Castle where Mary did her time. Then some wandering about the town proper of Edinburgh.
There were a number of interesting things to be seen, from the old and magnificently well maintained clothing of Mary, the the Scott Memorial and the museum where the source of many good things is given due credit.
That night was Halloween, which admittedly is not done up the same way as one finds in the states, but it was the perfect opportunity to take a Ghost Walk through Edinburgh. It was an interesting tours through the darkened streets of this old town, and tales were told of times long ago and oft times best forgotten. Our tour ended in the catacombs of Edinburgh, where our guide attempted to be come a ghost herself by setting her costume on fire. The quick response of no one saved the day as she dashed from the dark chamber and shed her fiery veil amongst the old bones.
The next day of my travels took me to the incredible country known as the Portal to the Highlands. Stirling! The Castle of Stirling has a unique history, and was a far more fascinating place to stroll about than the one found in Edinburgh.
Besides it's title and castle, Stirling is also well known as the place where the Brave Heart William Wallace won his only battle! Not surprisingly, the true story of the battle had NOTHING to do with the events shown in the movie. Instead of me placing the details in this page, click here for Tales of William Wallace and the Battle of Stirling Bridge. From the castle, I made my way to the Wallace Monument, about an hour walk from point to point.
The walk to the monument was the easy past, the 246 steps to the top of the tower was a wee bit more tiresome. For starters, the stairwell is narrow, and there is only one. So going up and coming done you must follow the same path. However, the view from the top of the monument is well worth the walk. At various levels of the tower can be found artifacts and trivia about William Wallace. One interesting thing was his massive sword. Experts (in what I know not) feel that from the size of the sword, William Wallace must have stood close to 6 foot 6. A veritable giant in 1297! Another humorous feature about the monument. A few months earlier a new statue had been added to the grounds. This one was of Braveheart. Not William Wallace, but Mel Gibson playing the part. It was not considered to be in good taste and was oft times vandalized, finally creating the need to lock it up at night. Click on the thumbnail of the caged statue, and get a laugh at what you shall read the statue has to say.
After Stirling, I hopped the train and headed north to Inverness. A very nice, peaceful place. It was by no means a small town, but still it was quite laid back.
Inverness, for those of you who do not know, has an incredibly large inland lake that it is well know for. In Scotland, a lake is called a Loch, So the call the water Loch Ness. And you probably know where this is leading to.
She really does exist!!!! Here is a close up!
Besides it's fabled resident, Inverness is also know for Castle Urquhart, a one time great castle, now little more than rubble as it got too big for it's britches and battled the big guys. Besides all the man made hoo-hah, the lake is very peaceful and beautiful.
Inverness was fun, and many new friends were met, but time was limited, so the next day I hopped a train to Glasgow, and after a great deal of being shuffled about, I ended up in that industrial center of Scotland, you can tell how much I liked it by all the pictures I have of the place.
There was one good thing about the visit. A visitor from New Zealand told me about an incredible place called he Isle of Skye, back in the North West region of Scotland. I had heard about Skye, but decided to give it a pass on this trip, her tales of this Isle changed my mind, and I shall be forever grateful to Mila for that fact.
The Next day I hopped a bus to the north, and by evening I was in the Isle of Skye. Right from the start it was an appealing place. Why, I know not, but I had an urge to stay. The main town in Skye is Portree, with the main street not even being the length of a high school football field.
I would just stop typing and let the pictures speak for themselves, but neither words nor images can truly do the Isle of Skye justice. It is truly a place where a visit is required to truly appreciate it's beauty and mystery. Even the morning frost on the car windows was unique.
The first eve in Skye was also Guy Fawkes Day in the UK. (If ya wanna know, click on the link) They make it a big celebration and burn off a great deal of their old stuff. In Inverness they had a bonfire pile prepared that was 3 stories tall!!!!! In Skye, it was a wee bit more subdued. What was even more noticeable that night was the stars. Living in the city will never allow one to realize how full the night sky can truly be. The sky in Skye is unforgettable, mayhap that is the source of the name!
The next day I rose early, and hit the road. The travel book I carried indicated a few good places that Skye boasted for viewing. Let me give you a hint. Small Island on the map, does NOT mean easy walking distance. Skye may be smaller than Oahu, but that does not say much. I lucked out and some other tourists driving by offered me a lift. Thanks guys, I saw so much more of the isle due to their generosity.
Sadly, they had a deadline to meet going south, so they had to let me off at Sligachan, just nine miles south of Portree. I might have made the walk quicker had I not been so enthralled by my surroundings.
The next day came and I had no desire to leave this fantastic Isle. There was a trip offered around the Isle, and I was smart enough to give it a go. Our Macbackpackers Guide was Shelby, and her cute little non-dog Thumbelina.
Now again I was taken by Old Man Storr, and this day the wind was not so gentle, the water was no longer a mirror, but still a stunning site.
Shebly was a fantastic guide, and knew just where to take us, which stories to tell, and what music to play. One incredible place was the Fairie Glen, and the stories that were heard in the few moments we parlayed, shall be remembered forever.
Skye could not last forever tho (Not this time) so the next day I caught a ride from the wondrous Isle and headed south. One neat stop was Eilean Donan, The most photographed Castle in all of Scotland, also known from the first 'Highlander' movie. On this day it was invaded by an Australian, a Canadian, and an American. We succeeded in gaining entrance, wandering the dim halls, and escaping the walls with out being caught.
One final night in Edinburgh, and finally I headed into the lowlands of England. One stop was a must, Glastonbury.
Glastonbury is known for two things. One is the Abbey, at one time the largest Monastery in England. After Henry VIII re-org, it was noting but dramatic ruins.
Beyond the main Abbey, there is the Torr.
So what is the big deal about the Torr? Well, there is some dramatic history, but what it is better known for is Arthur, Guinevere, AVALON. Are you lost, check out The Mists of Avalon for starters.
Next on the schedule was Stonehenge, but that was put off for a few months. The last few days of the trip were spent in London.
As you can see, some incredible scenes, but I will have to admit. The most stirring were of Hyde Park in the fall.
Why so few pictures, cuz it was all in the feeling, and without that to fill you, the pictures just don't mean the same.
So the 2000 trip to the United Kingdom was over. But all it did was make me want more.