Haste Ye Back
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.
There 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!)
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.
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.
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.
And goldenrod yellow flowers that dot 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.
- 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”.
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.
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.
There 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.
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.
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