Haste Ye Back

May 30, 2015

Scotland has seduced me – with its otherworldly green fairy hills, mountainous vistas, lochs and glens, ancient castles, monasteries and standing stones, quaint villages, sheep and Highland cows, welcoming Scots, and its language. When was the last time a stranger said “Haste Ye Back” to you? It almost made me cry.

The more I trust that little voice of guidance, the richer my life experiences become.

It was the same voice that nudged me to move from my NYC apartment that whispered sweet nothings to me of Scotland.

I had seen the pictures and watched countless movies and TV shows (well, Outlander). But nothing prepared me for the unlimited, breathtaking expanse of Nature that greeted us around every curve in the road. It was unprecedented for me.

Barbara Sinclair, Haste Ye Back, Loch Ness, Scotland

Loch Ness

Barbara Sinclair, Haste Ye Back, Loch Ness, ScotlandThere are mountains everywhere. Grahams (2,000-2,500 ft.), Corbetts (2,500-3,000 ft.) and the beloved majestic snow-capped Munros (over 3,000 ft.) which people climb and “bag” like feathers in their cap. It’s on my bucket list now.

Coming around one bend, we found ourselves face-to-face with Ben Nevis (“The Ben”), the big daddy of Munros. It’s the highest mountain in the British Isles.

I took note on about the third day of how good I felt. I was soaking up the natural surroundings and my heart was being nurtured by all of the green.

We savored butterscotch (yes, it originated in Scotland), shortbread (directly from the Walker’s factory which happened to miraculously appear before our eyes, smelling like butter) and whisky (yes, that’s how the Scots spell it!)

Barbara Sinclair, Haste Ye Back, Walker's Shortbread, Scotland

Walker’s Shortbread Factory

And yes, I tried haggis (a vegetarian version, so I guess it doesn’t really count). The jury’s still out…

Who knew I would like scotch? We met up with our good friends Robin and Allyson for a fun night out in Edinburgh.

Barbara Sinclair, Haste Ye Back, Loch Ness, Scotland

Whisky Bar in Edinburgh

This was no wimpy trip. My traveling companion, Beverly, and I decided we would road trip it and experience the country organically.

We rented a car (my brave beloved friend did all of the driving), and with the exception of B&B reservations at the Adria House in Edinburgh where we began and ended our journey, we trusted the Universe and simply went with the flow, sheep and all.

Barbara Sinclair, Haste Ye Back, Scotland, Sheep

It’s true – there are more sheep than people in Scotland

We camped out for more than half of the two weeks we were there. When we needed a place to rest, a campsite seemed to miraculously appear – even on the remotest of islands.

We laughed – a lot. 🙂

We saw water that was as turquoise blue as the Caribbean.


Isle of Iona

And goldenrod yellow flowers that dot the landscape everywhere.

Barbara Sinclair, Haste Ye Back, Scotland, Gorse

Gorse, aka Whin dots the landscape everywhere

Our journey took us all through the Lowlands and the Highlands – central, northern and western. We visited the Isles of Skye, Mull, and Iona in the Inner Hebrides. We felt like we had traveled back in time. This is ancient land.

The burial sites at Clava Cairns, are believed to be 4,000 years old. There was just an unlocked gate to enter the site.

Barbara Sinclair, Clava Cairns Burial Grounds, Scotland, Haste Ye Back

Ancient burial grounds and standing stones at Clava Cairns


In fact, one of the things I loved most about Scotland was the feeling of freedom and safety. Although some castles have rules and admittance fees, there are just as many that you come upon that are deserted ruins, begging to be explored. No signs warning you not to trespass. In fact, I never saw one sign that said: “Keep Out”.


Barbara Sinclair, Doune Castle, Haste Ye Back, Scotland

Doune Castle (Otherwise known as Castle Leoch in Outlander)

Barbara Sinclair, Linlithgow Palace, Haste Ye Back, Scotland

Linlithgow Palace, Birthplace of Mary Queen of Scots (also used in Outlander!)

Barbara Sinclair, Blackness Castle, Haste Ye Back, Scotland

Blackness Castle, aka Ft. William in Outlander

Barbara Sinclair, Nunnery Ruins at Iona, Isle of Iona, Hast Ye Back, Scotland

Nunnery ruins at Iona Monastery, Isle of Iona

 You can pretty much camp wherever you want as long as you are respectful of homes/farms nearby and you leave the campsite as you found it.

And feeling safe, well that’s something else altogether. Having lived in Detroit, NYC, and New Jersey, I’m used to keeping an eye on my bag, locking doors, etc.

I mentioned this to Beverly as I kept asking her if she’d locked the car. Then one evening we came out of a restaurant where we had dinner to find that the back hatch on our car had popped and was wide open. Everything was just as we’d left it, camera equipment and all.

The only mishap during the trip was losing my prescription glasses at the Fairy Pools (hmm…).

I still had them safely tucked in my pocket when I stood atop the fairy castle at the Fairy Glen on the Isle of Skye.

Barbara Sinclair, Faery Castle, Faery Glen, Isle of Skye, Haste Ye Back, Scotland

Atop the Faery Castle at the Faery Glen, Isle of Skye

Nature fed my soul, but what touched my heart was the language. I love words and was captivated listening to the Scottish people.

In the Highlands, where Gaelic is still alive, the signage always placed it above the English.


Barbara Sinclair, Moran Tang, Scots Gaelic, Scotland, Haste Ye BackThere is still a fierce sense of pride for this culture, language, and way of life although it was all but snuffed out after the Battle of Culloden in 1746 during the last of the Jacobite rebellions.

We visited Culloden Moor, and even though its history is tragic, I felt a strange sense of peace and calm walking through it.

Culloden Battlefield

Culloden Battlefield

You’re probably waiting for me to mention the weather. Yes, it’s true what they say – “If you don’t like the weather in Scotland, wait half an hour and it’ll change.”

There were days when it felt like we experienced all four seasons. It rained, was sunny, cloudy, windy, cold, warm (not really) – you name it. But strangely, it didn’t bother either of us. We were dressed properly and there was only one day in the town of Portree on the Isle of Skye that was a wash. So we hung out in a cafe/bookstore and went to see a movie that night.

Barbara Sinclair, Portree, Isle of Skye, Scotland, Haste Ye Back

Portree, Isle of Skye

I’m wise enough to know that it’s common to come home from a trip and say “I want to live there.” I know, the grass is always greener on the other side. But I am really feeling it this time. In fact, I was feeling it before the trip. Who knows what the future will bring. I’ll be back – that I know, for sure.

I just returned on Wednesday, and yesterday I was feeling kind of blue. Instead of birds chirping and clean air surrounding me, I awoke to the sounds of construction on the high-rise across the street.

I dragged myself out for a walk in the afternoon and lo and behold I looked up to see a man in a kilt coming towards me down the street. This is the second time the Universe has winked at me with a man in a kilt since moving to Jersey City. Seriously, what are the chances? For a moment, I thought I heard him say

Haste Ye Back:web

Much love,



  1. Barbara, thank you!!! One of the most impactful and moving experiences of my life was my trip to Scotland over 15 years ago. My international travel is skimpy – Scotland, Poland and Jamaica (does Jamaica count?). Scotland blew me away and I also was so happy there. My highlights were Iona and the Isle of Mull. Without really knowing it at the time, I brought myself to the most amazing, sacred sites.

    I am currently beginning major change and the allure is the freedom to travel and experience our heaven on earth in all the pockets of beauty and awe – those 10 feet and 10,000 miles away. Right now, I am slogging it out and not so pleased that my house is completely torn apart – preparing for sale. The gorgeous blog has re-purposed me back to my original compass. Thank you thank you!

  2. Barbara, thank you soooo much! Your writing is as beautiful as your pictures. I feel your heart! You have given me wonderful places to go visit this summer. I love the man in the kilt in Jersey City!

  3. Welcome home Barbara, what an amazing trip! When Anna traveled to Scotland, I remember her saying Iona was a highlight, it sounds like that was one of many highlights for you! Gina and I were delighted to hear that you loved the Adria House, so glad you stayed there with sweet Eddie and Maria. Can’t wait to hear more about it especially your quest to find out more about your Scottish ancestors. Xoxo Mary

  4. Hi Barbara, thanks for sharing your trip. So glad you had a wonderful time. I love your photos!

  5. Thanks for this post — what stunning scenery! I’m so glad you and Bev had a great time. And I’m sure you can find butterscotch (and scotch!) in Jersey City if you want it. Have fun catching up, and welcome home! At least it’s home for now….

  6. I love this. Enjoyed reading and viewing the pics. You are a great poetic like writer.

  7. How wonderful !

  8. Hi, Barbara! What a wonderful trip, story, and travel blog. I checked out all the links briefly as I read along, but I’ll have to go back again to learn more about each of the places. Scotland is truly a beautiful country, and so spacious between developments, pristine, and pure. It must be hard being back living in the congested city life again.

    I just returned from a lovely winter trip to Norway in January, and I had the same feelings of wanting to move there right away, too. I’m thinking my trip reawakened some old past life memories, especially in one area of the Fiords between Flam and Gundvagen Fiordtell, a Norwegian Viking town not far from Oslo. I was treated like a princess there by the gentleman who owned the hotel!

    It’s been many long years since I had a brief visit in Scotland, and my memory of it wears thin now, and it just wasn’t enough time to get a real sense of what the countryside was like. I was only 21 on my first trip to Europe with my backpack and guitar in hand. My home base was in London in the Chelsea district where I had American cousins who had moved there when their mother married a British doctor. Chelsea was a posh neighborhood, and the hub of the youth culture of the 70’s on Kings Road where all the psychedelic shops, record stores, and boutiques were located. Hot pants and mini shirts, and Mary Quant fashions and make-up were in style then. I even saw John Lennon’s Bentley being chauffeured down Kings Road one afternoon but you couldn’t see in through the darkened windows!

    While living in London with my cousins for a few weeks I was introduced to one of their friends, Allan McAllister, a Scottish art student at Kings College doing his foundation year studies. We hit it off instantly! But I was not to stay in London for long. One of my cousins, Shannon, had left London riding on the back of a motorcycle with a young man from NYC headed for the Spanish Mediterranean Coast and a small British-German resort town called Calella. Shannon’s mother asked if I would go check on her to see if she was OK, and take Colette, the younger sister with me so I wouldn’t be traveling alone with my Eurail Pass. We left on the Dover ferry for Calais, France, and caught a train traveling through France to Barcelona. I don’t remember how we got to Calella, but we arrived there safely and rented a pension for a week. We found Shannon working as a barmaid in a tiny tavern on the beach. She didn’t seem very happy, but she was almost fluent in Spanish and she was better at getting around the town. Shannon was still living with her boyfriend, who she supported, and he made his way around town by selling pot for dealers in the area. We all made one lovely visit to Barcelona one day together to see the Gaudi Temple, and had a fabulous meal of Couscous prepared by the best Spanish chefs in town. Colette ended up staying with Shannon for a while longer, but my heartstrings were pulling me back to London to be with Alan. I made the solo trip back to London alone.

    Alan happily greeted me on my return, and I moved into his tiny flat with a shared bath just outside London for the next month until the school semester was over. Then we traveled by train to Glascow, Scotland where Alan’s parents, and twin sister lived. Alan’s father was a research medical doctor at the Glascow University in Women’s Health and Gynocology, and his sister was married to a Antique Dealer. Allan’s father did not approve of Allan being an art student, he always wanted him to be a doctor. I don’t know what his parents thought of me, but they were kind and gracious while I stayed with them in their home for a week.

    Being a very young California girl, I was impressed by all the old villages, cities, and architecture that was hundreds of years old, but I was missing the modern landscapes where I grew up in California. The months I was in England and Scotland were during the early spring and early summer until June, and the damp and often dreary weather and atmosphere was so foreign to me I was always a little uncomfortable, and cold. Allan’s parents took us on a one-day road trip to see the big castle in Edinburgh and it was so cold, dark, and dreary looking from the outside I had no interest in touring the inside. I much preferred driving through the lovely countryside seeing all the lush green hills and rhododendrons blooming wild along the forested terrain. The locks that I saw from a distance were beautiful, but we didn’t drive to any coastal areas. As I remember it was lightly misting that day. I can’t even remember what Glascow was like now, but I remember the McAllister family home I stayed in… in my own guest room. I visited the Antique Shop owned by Allan’s sister and husband, and I picked out a an antique silver butter dish with claw feet and a long-necked dragon head handle a carved pearl handled butter knife as a present for my mom to take back home with me.

    I had to return to the US again after that visit to Glascow because my visa had run out after 3 months, and I took the train back to London by myself, leaving Allan to work in a summer job as an orderly at the hospital where his father worked, and a promise to return to London as soon as I could. I never went back again. My parents saw to it that I would get some private counseling over my heartbreak depression following my return home again, and no encouragement from them to ever go back again to see Allan. We were both terribly heartbroken.

    I made my escape away from my parents by joining up with my girlfriend, Paula, that summer at Humboldt State University for a summer retreat with Maharishi and the TM movement. We had both been initiated in TM in Berkeley in 1967, and Paula had become a devout follower of the organization, and she eventually traveled to Majorca, Spain, working as a childcare nanny for the married couples in the program. I went back to working in my father’s retail stores selling medical uniforms to nurses, doctors, and beauticians for the next eight years until I quit and secured a student loan so I could go to Art College.

    I’ll always remember Scotland and Allan McAllister with fond memories. Allan went on to study Painting and Printmaking at the Royal Art Academy in London. I did make one trip back to London and Paris three years later, and I visited with Allan for a few days, but our union was not meant to be. I think he married a Norwegian gal he met at the Royal Academy and he moved to Norway with her and opened a printmaking shop. I still sometimes wish it could have been me! End of Story.

    Now that I’m mature enough to enjoy some historical travel Scotland will go on my bucket list again! My family background is Scotch-Irish-Welsh. My grandfather was George McGaha Stofle (Stofle is a Dutch name)

  9. Hi Barbara, thank you so much for your writings on Scotland and your photo’s are so lovely too and also for the info on what was in the Outlander series. I do love reading your newsletters. Thanks again. Helen Linton

  10. Barbara! What a fabulous blog! OK, I have now added Scotland to one of the places in this world that I must somehow visit. It sounds so magical. And of course they’re proud: They beat the Romans in battle!! They were not conquered. And three of my favorites: butterscotch, shortbread cookies, and whiskey! Uh, add the men. 😉
    Seriously, this sounds like a terrific trip and I love the sign you received back in Jersey City. You might have really found your home in this world.

  11. Wowwwww Barbara, what a beautiful post, and the photos are absolutely breathtaking!!! Thank you so much, will share now!!! Love you!!!

  12. Hi Barbara,

    Ah, Scotland is on my list. I too love Outlander. 🙂 Thank you so much for sharing your experience of visiting. It allowed me to visit vicariously until I myself can visit!


  13. aww, thanks Barbara for the trip back, we stayed at Adria House, we visited the Fairy Pools, loved the Fairy Glen and are warmed by your words that took us back to such a wonderful place!! thank, Dave in Indiana!

  14. Some people live life with a carefully laid-out plan and measure success by how closely they live the plan. Thankfully this is not you!!! Thankfully you live the mystery, embrace life’s invitations as they are whispered to you, and thankfully, you share all this with us too! Travel is a way to stay connected to the larger universe, to others, to the divine, and to ourselves. Thank you dear Barbara for taking us with you on the journey! Much love, Katie

    • Katie, Your comment brought me to tears. Thank you, my friend. You are always there to listen and help me figure out those whispers. Thank you for that. On another note, there’s no construction going on today (it’s Sunday) and I can actually hear the birds chirping right here in Jersey City. Still, Scotland calls… xoxo

  15. What a fab read! I can testify to the beautiful beaches in Iona! I’m from Scotland and live on the beautiful west coast. I have been suffering I’ll health with fibromayalgia and found Barbara’s blog whilst researching a trip to India for Panchakarma. I’d love to know if anyone has had great success with this! I’m hoping to go in September this year. I cannot wait! X

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