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.
Glasgow, cloudy with a chance of meatballs, and the sun shining from one side. We amble from great gothic Glasgow Cathedral up the epic hill where every prominent citizen’s family & friends apparently competed for giant tombstones, garish monuments, stone remembrances. Except for John Knox, who predates the Necropolis, and who’s monument is tallest of all. Fascinating place, and not even a bit creepy. Just felt like history, and great views of the city.
Panoramic photos don’t make for great photoblog posts, but we were rambling along Princes Street in Edinburgh, looked up in the steady rain, and saw this and thought perhaps I might share it anyway, because those dramatic Scottish clouds painted up the sky over Edinburgh Castle.
Another beautiful burg with loads of point and shoot opportunities everywhere you turn. Amazing, lovely Scotland.
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.
Gothic pretention, ominous clouds finally forming overhead and drizzling lightly, making Scotland’s green pop brightly in the drizzly downpour. I’m cautious about posting YACIS (yet another cathedral in Scotland) because they are many and they are medieval, and frequently started by hermit monks with practices that make no sense, like total silence. What happens if you get an ouchie? Not even a peep? (thanks, Dave)
The cathedral at Dunkeld is not only the first wholly preserved cathedral we’ve seen–they still observe ceremony there–but it’s got the sarcophagus of the nutjob grandchild of Robert the Bruce; a fella they called the Wolf of Badenoch or the Celtic Atilla for his prodigious craziness in burning cathedrals to the ground and 40 illegitimate offspring by numerous different mothers. What a peach! For that he got a forever tomb in 1405 behind the altar at one of the more beautiful Gothic churches we’ve seen to date. Real true stories!
The Wallace Monument is a glorious 1869 architecture piece perched atop Abbey Craig near Stirling, Scotland, commemorating the life of one William Wallace, he of the blue faced Mel Gibson Braveheart war cries that represent such a fictionalization of what actually happened that our historian bus driver Dave represents the conflicted national pride the locals have of that movie: great for tourism and we love our Will; bummer Mel painted an elaborate deception that confuses the world about what really happened. But hey, it’s the movies!
In the net, it’s a gorgeous monument that works my wide shoulders and legs as I skinny up the turret to the open spire up top, with gorgeous pastoral views to the surrounding area. Who built this crazy stuff anyhow? Why is everyone sweating and breathing like snuffly hogs within the echoey sandstone?
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.