Posted by: mkl325 | May 15, 2013

Mike’s Visit (Part 3)… A Day in the Highlands

One thing that I had not had a chance to do since coming to Scotland is make it to the Highlands. It was also something that Mike had wanted to see. So here is the problem… Mike was here for a short time and navigating the Highlands takes both time and transportation other than simply the train. So we found a tour group, Highland Experience Tours, which would take us through Loch Ness and Glen Coe and bring us back to Edinburgh.

Bright and early we made our way to the pick-up point on the Royal Mile and waited for our tour guide, Kenny. The bus was comfortable and Kenny, who I might add was wearing a kilt, was pretty funny. As you drive through the different parts of the highlands, they played dramatic recordings of stories of the Jacobite rebellion and the murders at Glen Coe. Although I know that there are a few details that were not completely accurate (Margaret Tudor was not the daughter of Henry VIII but Henry VII)  it was fairly entertaining.

Our first stop of the day was the one I was looking forward to the most… LOCH NESS.

Not the real Nessie...

Not the real Nessie…

Apparently if you turned the Eiffel Tower upside down, you can submerge it completely in the Loch.

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The first depiction of the Loch Ness Monster was actually in the 6th Century when Saint Columba, an Irish monk, came across a group burying a man by the River Ness.  The man had apparently been swimming in the river when he was attacked and killed by a monster. Columba sent his follower out across the river and when the monster came after him, Columba stopped it by making the sign of the cross.

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The myth became popular in 1933 when George Spicer and his wife supposedly saw a creature cross in front of their car, stories that the locals repeated in their own experiences until 1938. It was at this time that the Chief Constable wrote a letter stating that there was no doubt that the monster existed. There have been several pictures and videos of a plesiosaurs-type animal throughout the years, with the most recent sighting being in 2011 by George Edwards, but they have all been proven as fakes. Although there has been no concrete evidence of the monsters existence, it is still something that people believe in. In fact, since the 1930s looking for Nessie has become a main attraction for the Scottish highlands.

On the hunt... the hat is an essential part of monster hunting.

On the hunt… the hat is an essential part of monster hunting.

"The Surgeon's Photograph" by Dr. Wilson in 1934 - probably the most famous Nessie picture

“The Surgeon’s Photograph” by Dr. Wilson in 1934 – probably the most famous Nessie picture

Look! I found her!

Look! I found her!

One thing I did have to do was get a stuffed Nessie for my newborn nephew. I probably had more fun with that task than I should have. In fact, I may have gotten one for myself as well.

Mike trying to steal my nephew's gift.

Mike trying to steal my nephew’s gift.

Sitting on the banks of Loch Ness is Urquhart Castle. The ruins date from the 13th to the 16th centuries and were used as a royal residence in the 14th century.

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Our next stop was a few moments at Ben Nevis, the highest point in the British Isles. Kenny told us that it is often referred to as “the mountain with its head in the clouds”.

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Apparently, because we were such a good tour group with time constraints, we were able to make an additional stop at Inverlochy Castle built in the 13th century.

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The most impressive landscape we saw on our trip was our drive through Glen Coe. Glen Coe is also known as “the glen of weeping” for two reasons. First of all, there are several waterfalls from the melting snow but this term is used more famously to refer to the massacre at Glen Coe from 1692.  It was then that members of the Clan Campbell murdered thirty-eight members of the Clan MacDonald after accepting their hospitality, on the orders of King William. The story has become the subject of many highland folk songs and poems.

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I have a weakness for animals, always have. For example, I remember going to see Titanic when I was in 7th grade with all of my friends, and we were all sobbing at the end. However, I was the only one not crying over Leonardo DiCaprio, but rather the fact that they never showed any of the dogs, that were filmed earlier, on the lifeboats.  So when we got the chance to see some Highland wildlife – I was thrilled.

SHEEP!

SHEEP!

Look at the lambs!

Look at the lambs!

This was my first time seeing a Highland Cow (aka “Heelind Coo”)! I was very excited about this because I find these guys absolutely hysterical. The oldest one is named Hamish and is 20 years old.  It was the perfect end to our (11 hour!) highland tour.

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I am sad to have said goodbye but Mike’s trip was an amazing break and, even though I had more Scotch than I should have, it was a wonderful time.

10 years of friendship, 5 states, 2 countries and HOURS of girl talk later and we still are the coolest people that I know.

10 years of friendship, 5 states, 2 countries and HOURS of girl talk later and we still are the coolest people that I know.

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