Freedom! Leaving the Scottish Highlands

To use a cliche, all good things must come to an end. The last day of our Isle of Skye tour was the long slog back to Edinburgh (and to poor weather). We drove back passed Eilean Donan Castle; partly to get a morning light perspective, mostly because we had to use that road to get out of the highlands. It was one big scenic drive all over again (which was awesome) and we had many a great, sunny photo stop. Once again, the sunglasses make for a deceptive shot where you have no inkling of the cold!

Glen Coe is listed as the main stop of the itinerary for Day 3 of Macbackpacker’s 3-Day Isle of Skye tour, but we only stopped their briefly to look over the mountains from a viewing platform (no time for hikes today!). However, we did get to spend a lot of time in the Lochaber area because every view is an amazing view. We needed to stop every 15 minutes for a photo.

Perhaps my favourite stop of the day was the Commando Memorial which has a great view over Ben Nevis, the highest peak in the British Isles, and the wild area where British WW2 commandos did their training. It’s a very solemn place with the three bronze figures looking off towards that highest of mountains. The garden of remembrance is home to the ashes of local soldiers; including some from ongoing struggles.

All feeling a bit more sober, we made our way out of the highlands. Upon reaching the lowlands the skies immediately clouded over. I decided to immediately fall asleep and woke up as we were driving through the town of Callendar. The stop here was very important for it’s Monty Python reference: Doune Castle. My favourite train spotter, Michael Palin, found the site when scouting locations for the famous film Monty Python & The Holy Grail. Naturally we all started threatening to “fart [in each other’s] general direction” and insulted our parents by insisting they smelled like elderberries etc etc etc… It was great.

Doune Castle is maintained by the Historic Scotland.

douen castleOur final visit of the trip was to the Wallace Monument in Stirling. My understanding of Scottish history was garnered through the first campaign of Age of Empires II, which I think is mildly more historically correct than that film with that actor and those out of place kilts and painted faces (that one). The monument was built during the Victorian age. Rather more impressive than the monument itself if the fact it represents a revival of Scottish culture and national identity. Although not independent, Scots were now able to venerate their heroes without fear of being branded ‘rebels’ – even those heroes who fought the English!

Wallace monument

And so ended our tour. We were dropped back at the Castle Rock Hostel where we began on Friday. Brigette and I checked in to our Sid Vicious themed room, where we promptly asked to move as it was full of black mould, ending up in the Moulin Rogue themed suite (romatical). Although many of the group parted ways here, those of us truly committed ended up at the Royal Mile Pub to lament over the end of the tour.

royal mile

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