The Scottish Highlands

I started reading Outlander by Diana Gabaldon about 2002 on the recommendation of one of my friends. I was completely immersed and now along with Harry Potter and Lord of the Rings, the Outlander books are my go-to books to re-read at the end of the day when I don’t have the brain space to absorb something new.

My familiarity with Gabaldon’s impeccable research into the world she describes prepared me for much of what I was to see in the highlands, but only in an intellectual way. Kind of in the same way that pictures will never do justice when standing in the mountains towering over picturesque lochs, reflecting the sky and the rocky shoreline. I didn’t expect to be so moved by “mere” landscape.

We spent most of the time in the highlands on the Isle of Skye, a short drive from Plockton. First stop was the tourist town of Portree, where I tasted haggis for the first time. Much to my surprise, I liked it very much. Later that same day came another first for me. We hiked down a steep valley to arrive at an amazing waterfall. I brought my bathing suit, but was undecided about going in until we arrived. But how often does one get the chance to swim at the base of a waterfall? It was cold, but refreshing and certainly warm enough to swim once the initial shock wore off.

We took our time climbing back out of the valley and I stopped often to take more photos of my classmates who were romping like billy goats along with the sheep on the other side. The valley opened to another wide, sparkling body of water. If felt as if the coasts along Skye were convincing me that I need to return. And return with a sailboat. Maybe someday.

The sites at Avebury and Stonehenge weren’t the only prehistoric places we were to visit this month. The two brochs at Glen Elg, Dun Telve and Dun Troddan were a real treat for me. A broch is a prehistoric dwelling. Two outer walls rise in a circle that meets near the top. Wooden roofs and inner framework completed the inside with stone stairs that rose between the outer walls to ascend the upper levels. I had read about brochs in Outlander, but I didn’t visualize them very well until I was actually standing in one.

The tour of the Talisker distillery was something I had been anticipating. It’s the only distillery on the Isle of Skye and on that day it was a pleasant way to get out of the rain. Unfortunately, right after the distillery we headed to climb the Old Man of Stor in the drizzle. This was about a three mile hike up to an amazing rock formation on the top of a mountain. It was as if a giant had set up a standing stone for all to see for miles around. The views looking down on the loch from the heights were breathtaking. As we reached the top, the clouds were actually below us. It was a strenuous climb and the rain seemed to worsen the closer we were to the top. My pictures have mostly a misty atmosphere that doesn’t convey by half the eerie isolated feel.

Our last day in the highlands was spent on critiques of our project and a wonderful seal tour from Plockton Harbor. I was very glad to to finally get out on the water. It felt so natural to cruise the moored boats in the harbor on our way back from sighting the seals, along with some new babies, out on the rocks further out. I talked to the crew members about the water depth and the local sailing. There was no opportunity to sail in the highlands on this trip, but I will make sure that happens in future.

Comments are closed.

See also: