Sadly, today was our last day in the Scottish Highlands. This is right up there with the most beautiful natural scenery I have seen in my life, and that includes the Australian Outback, Daintree Rainforest, Grand Canyon and Annapurna Sanctuary. We’ve loved our time here, and it’s definitely one place on this trip I could return to again and again. I’ve put some photos up here, mostly taken from a moving bus and through reflective glass, and they just don’t do justice to the beauty of this terrain. Nor do they give you a real sense of the magnitude of the high mountains on either side of the road (those measuring over 914.4 metres or 3000 feet high are known here as munros). I now have a better sense of why the Scottish Highlands feature in so many movies and TV shows. They are grand in every sense of the word.
Our first stop was the Commando Memorial in Lochabar, dedicated to the men who trained here as British Commandos during World War II. They gaze out across the mountains, including Ben Nevis, Britain’s highest peak. You can see it towards the right hand side, in shadow, on the fourth photo here.
We drove on through Glencoe, where the landscape is truly remarkable. The rugged walking trails here are among Scotland’s most popular, and we saw a number of people out hiking this morning. This is the region where Skyfall was filmed. It was also in this vicinity in 1692 that members of the Campbell clan murdered 38 members of the McDonald clan after the McDonalds had welcomed them into their homes and provided them with food, company and beds for the night. The feud between these clans has long festering wounds, and even today some of the establishments around Glencoe post notices proclaiming ‘Campbells Not Welcome’.
The land flattened out into boggy moorland. There are small islands here in the lakes that periodically appear for a time and then are submerged once more. Soon the hills rose again on either side of a large body of water. We took the low road (pun intended) along the shores of Loch Lomond to a jetty, where we boarded a small boat for an hour long cruise. It was in the rugged terrain on the far side of this loch that the Scottish outlaw Rob Roy MacGregor sometimes operated. One time, when he was wanted for stealing cattle, he hid within a cave for several days to avoid capture. Our boat captain had little problem directing our attention to Rob Roy’s cave, as some clever wit had scrawled CAVE in large capital letters on an adjacent rock.
Just a short distance from the completion of our cruise, we crossed over the fault line that runs through Loch Lomond, and which divides the Highlands from the Lowlands.