The West Highlands
On our way out of Edinburgh, we were besieged by rain and a scarcity of appealing looking campsites (away from the road far enough that lorries don't shake the van). Finally we found this attractive pile at the end of a short cul-de-sac and we knew no one would disturb us....
So we kept going till we spied an attractive looking monument and drove towards it.
Remember the movie Braveheart? Well it's based on the historical character William Wallace who fought against king Edward I of England for the freedom of Scotland from 1297 to 1305. The Hollywood version of the tale is based on Rev. Randolph Wallace 1850 reconstruction of the hero for Victorian tastes. He glosses over the fact that William killed more people in his burning and looting rampages than in all his battles with the king's army.
But the tale sells well and in 1860 they built this grand monument to their ancient hero for the princely sum of £10,000.
We decided our health and stamina was giving out, so instead of going all the way north to Inverness, we detoured to Oban. On our way we had pity on these two women from the Netherlands and drove back to pluck them from the rain. Turns out they come from Utrecht where we got our van. Small world.
The landscapes here are indeed fabulous. The mountains are steep and tall, but not so tall as to seem out of reach. The colors are green and gray from the constant attention of so much water. Some of the falls from the mountains are still frozen in June.
Like in England, agriculture nestles right up to the cities. In Oban we came a public park which doubles as a farmers field. He'd crammed his heard into this stall by the road to give them their medicine which they like about as much as a three year old likes castor oil.
However, we discovered an unexpected contrast with what we'd seen in England. While the rugged countryside is by itself so striking that we have to say it's more beautiful, there's been little care taken to keep the human habitation aesthetically pleasing. So wonderful scenes of natural beauty are routinely spoiled by barbed wire gates stuck in mud and garish tourist signs.
But with a little searching, we found a the lovely village Killin to do our laundry and take a wee nap.
The sunlight here is strong enough to read by inside the van till well after 10:30 pm. Then it gets just as bright again by 4 in the morning. And it's twilight till after midnight and starting around 3 am. Sleeping has become a challenge.
The castle ruins here are just like postcards. In fact, we saw this one in a postcard and then drove by in on our way. We hiked a half-mile through a sheep's pasture to visit it.
Every castle needs a keeper. This chap is filling in for a fellow sheepherder who's on holiday. The castle's open during daylight hours for anyone to walk around, but at night they have to lock it up or fisherman will camp out and make fires from the wooden stairs.
This particular castle is for sale, by the way. The Scotland Department of the Interior is looking for a buyer of this vintage property with an excellent views of Loch Awe. Interested parties should contact the Scottish Parliament.
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