More of the magical Isle of Skye, Scotland and the weather drops in a little bit of drama. The Black Cuillins are incredibly dramatic igneous mountains, and the stretch of empty road surrounded on both sides by fields of purple heather gives a nice perspective. The truth is, there isn’t a single image that can capture how magnificent the landscape on the Isle of Skye is, and what dynamic views it offers. Magical. Am I gushing too much? Probably.
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.
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.
Sure, they used to hang folks from the gallows here in Grassmarket Square. All that remains today, however, is the brightly colored social center of Edinburgh, with luscious pubs, fabulous and diverse food, and boutique shops for cheese, antique maps & books, clothing, and 16th century structures repurposed as entertainment venues. Love it!
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.
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 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?