First day of our Scotland tour, you may recall from an earlier photoblog post we climbed up to the Wallace Monument, then climbed up its ever skinnier turret steps to reach the top spire. Last day of Scotland, here we are at Stirling Castle, looking across at the very same monument, and really see how well it was positioned when it first opened in the mid 1800’s. The houses in the village below looks like little toys, the green mountains behind the perfect backdrop. So then, I say again, Scotland is lovely and polite and has wrangled its tragic history into a stunning and diverse geographic landscape. 4 weeks wouldn’t be enough to take it all in, so I got the Cliff Notes version. Better than nothing.
This 1890 red engineering marvel is the Forth Bridge at Queen’s Ferry in Scotland, the 2nd longest cantilever span in the world, still carrying a steady stream of rail traffic while two other bridges nearby handle the auto traffic. It doesn’t hurt much that it’s beautiful to look at–I feel reasonably qualified to say that coming from San Francisco, where we have both the beautiful Golden Gate and the LED art piece that is the Bay Bridge. In any case, the water is reflective glass, so it’s yet another point-and-shoot-and-get-great-pic opportunity in Scotland, which continues to be not boring in the least. Feast your eyes, friends. I know I did.
Morning, Isle of Skye, the bus rolls on and stops at Kilt Rock/Mealt Falls, but busdriver Dave leads us up to the edge and points the other way, down to the rocks below, where we see this epic view. “An episode of Game of Thrones was filmed here,” he says, pointing the opposite way of the falls. Several folks on the bus start freaking out and peppering him with questions, but not me. “I’ve read the books,” I say to one lady. “But never seen the series.” As soon as her voice rises “OMG, OMG, you have to see it!!”, I immediately phase out into my happy place and put my eye up to the viewfinder and see if I can capture the epic view.
But I can’t, or not with something as simple as an image. The views on Isle of Skye feel expansive, stunning land and seascapes built for movies that go beyond the farthest edge of your peripheral vision, and degrees of contrast no HDR can truly represent. With the sun out in force, purple carpets of heather are everywhere. Another day in Scotland, blowing through time like it doesn’t exist. 2.5 hours pass and it feels like we just got here, then we’re back on the bus and off down the road again.
The title of today’s blogpost refers to the innate modesty of the lovely Scottish people, and indeed the UK in general; though Glasgow is a beautiful fall colored city with its muted cinnamon, red, and yellow bricks soot stained by centuries and often rehabilitated for the 21st century by modern neon signs and decor, the vestiges of Gothic religion dominate its architecture, its ruins, its iconic locations, and ultimately the feeling that any good thing that inspires passion ought to be tempered back down to reality, lest it be crushed under its unassuming ambitions.
We are day 2 wandering in Glasgow after a lovely rainy afternoon with relatives yesterday. I shuddered at taking the hop on, hop off boss, given my general eye rolling experiences back home in San Francisco with such things, but it proved to be an efficient way to see the city and decide where to go, given that we are only here a weekend. Glasgow city & west end feel largely San Francisco sized, all things are walking distances, there are lovely cobblestone and brick promenades all over the place, and Glaswegians are on the alert to step outside in a jiffy if there’s a break in the clouds and the sun comes out.
The picture today was on my way walking to Glasgow Cathedral, a reminder there are still bits of 1800’s buildings that will be NOT be preserved for the ages. They’ll eventually be knocked down, modernized, replaced with new things. That’s Glasgow’s reinvention of itself, and the city holds a fond place in my heart for this trip and a return; there’s far too much to do here than a weekend allows.
To the far north tip of the Isle of Skye lie the ruins of Duntulm Castle, late of Clan Macdonald, who, not unlike their Macdonald relatives did at Armadale Castle on Skye, punted on their castle in 1732 and built a glorified farmhouse out of its stones a few miles south. Seriously?
Dave the Busdriver tells us a local legend: the clan abandoned the castle after the infant son of a chieftain who lived there fell out of window while in the charge of a nursemaid, dashed on those rocks you see below. Sufficiently bad juju that they set the nursemaid adrift in the Atlantic sea in a tiny boat.
The Isle of Skye continues its artwork clouds, dramatic landscape, and green fields beneath a bright sun. No doubt it’d be just as dramatic beneath the gray clouds and rain. Onward we go.
The bus drives on northward and we land near the Kelpies, a pair of 50 meter high giant stainless steel horses with rivets as big as canned hams and full of relentless silent judgment looking down upon us all. They went up in 2013, so they’re a new anomaly in a stunning land that cherishes its soot stained historic brick masonry. To my dismay so far, Scotland is enjoying an epic bout of summer sun; more blue sky than clouds this first week. I’m melting in it, while Dave the Bus Driver wears shorts instead of his kilt, and he and the other pale skin types turn lobster red, as we’d all prepared for gloom. It can change, so I’m hoping! Weather is all about timing; one lady said her daughter toured 2 weeks ago and they couldn’t see anything through the constant deluge. Dave says it’s been since June that they’ve actually seen anything close to this, and it’s supposed to be like this all week. Bah. My first world heat complaints fall on deaf deity ears.