Archive for the ‘Enchanted Forest’ Category

No Place like Home…..   1 comment

Well I’m finally home, or course, and because of the hectic last day in Scotland,  the trip home and not being able to post that last day, I felt I really needed to added one last posting regarding our trip.

Friday, we checked out early from our lodgings and headed up to Dunfermline.  Dunfermline was Scotland’s capitol until 1603 and there is located the Abbey Church and ruins of the Palace.  Within the Abbey are the tombs of 22 Scottish Kings and Queens, including that of Robert the Bruce.  It was a MUST SEE Historical site for me, so that was our first stop……annnnddd….it was closed……….major bummer!!!  We wandered around the grounds of the Abbey and looked over the fence at the ruins of the Castle but that was as close as we were able to get…..

After that disappointment we headed up to Dunkeld as we made our way toward our ultimate destination–the Enchanted Forest.  Dunkeld is a beautiful little village on the River Tay.  My favorite musician, Dougie Maclean lives nearby–didn’t see him–but it was great to be in his home town and see the places he talks about.   Unfortunately I didn’t get any photos…it was POURING rain when we got there and I didn’t want to take the chance on getting my camera soaked.  So we just heading off walking through town, visiting spots and finally ended up at the Dunkeld Cathedral, went inside and viewed all the items of interest–including the memorial to Neil Gow– one of the most famous Fiddlers ever and one of my favorite musicians.  He is buried on the grounds of the cathedral.  While we were in the Cathedral, the rain stopped and the sun came out–we walked outside and were greeted with some of the most breathtaking scenes of our entire time in Scotland……aaannddd….my camera was in the car clear at the other end of town…  We decided to walk back in hopes of retrieving it and coming back but on the way the clouds closed back in and the rain resumed….bummer again……  Well, it is a memory that I will treasure regardless.

We finally ended up in Pitlochry, where we were to be able to see the Enchanted Forest in the evening.  It was a great little town also and we were able to relax a bit, have a final meal at a local pub and then board the bus that would take us to the Enchanted Forest.

The Enchanted Forest is something that I had heard about a couple of years ago and thought it would be so great to see something like that.  It is located just outside Pitlochry in Faskally Wood, in Perthshire’s Big Tree Country.  It draws over 20,000 visitors each year for it’s approximately 3 week run.  With all the rain that we were getting that day, we were really afraid that it might be canceled but that evening before we were scheduled to attend, the rain ceased and the skies opened up to the most brilliant display of stars above the canopy of the forest.  It made for a cold (37 degrees) but beautiful evening and the lights and music of the displays at the Enchanted Forest were wonderful.  I was able to get some photos and will post these in the slide show at the end of this blog.

We had hoped that the trip home would have been peaceful and uneventful…not the case….it was near as bad as the flight out–I’ll spare you the details, I haven’t got the energy to write about it now.

Being in Scotland was one of the greatest experiences of my life…it’s hard to believe I’m back in the US now–it went by so fast.  We saw so very many things, places and breathtaking scenes, and at the same time missed so many other things that we would have liked to see because of time constraints or lack of daylight….or closed for the season time changes….  MAYBE someday I’ll be able to go back again.  I never thought I’ve ever have the opportunity to go in the first place, yet I did.  That certainly is an encouragement that it could be possible to visit again….hmmm…better get my list of places I want to see started…..

But another thing that really made it special and worthwhile was the fact that I was able to spend this time with my boys and enjoy all of it together.  I will be eternally grateful to my son, Ryan, who made the dream-come-true.  “We’re gonna do it, Dad!!” and we did….Thanks, buddy, I love you!!

Thanks for following along on the blog.  I’m glad I spent the time recording some of our travels and photos–maybe it will encourage you to fulfill some dream that you’ve had of something you’ve always wanted to do or go see.  If so I’m happy for you–it could lead you to one of the greatest experiences of your life as well….

Aye!

Howie

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Almost time to come home…   2 comments

This might be my last post before coming home.  Tomorrow we will be checking out of our lodging and heading up to the Pitlockry area to see the sights and finish up with the Enchanted Forest.  I may try to post something more while I wait around in the airport if WiFi is available–I’m certainly going to have plenty of time on my hands as our flight doesn’t leave until 6 am.  So we’ll see what happens.

Today it was raining steadily and we were rather beat.  So, we just decided to go back to the Royal Mile and do a little more browsing around in the shops to see if there was anything we wanted to get.  We found a used bookstore and I found a treasure that I never expected to find.  Ben and I were both looking for Gaelic Bibles but were unsuccessful.  The bookstore owner went in a back room to double check and came out saying, “No, I could’na find a Gaelic but I do have this..”  It was a New Testament in Scots!!  I couldn’t believe it—I’ve looked for those, even on the internet and could only find one book–the book of Mark–that had been translated.  But here was an entire New Testament, translated from the Greek into Scots!!  HUGE Thrill for me!!!  Scots is the language of the people, the local vernacular, the language that Robert Burns wrote his poems in.  Major find–treasure–for me!!!

Ben found a can of Vegetarian Haggis…debated long and hard whether to get it or not.  In the end decided not to–who wants Fake Haggis, and he sure-as-heck wasn’t about to try the real thing…….(if you don’t know how it’s made, look it up–I don’t want to spoil the surprise….you’ll understand then why it’s served with Whisky… 🙂 )

One of the things I bought today was a box of “Glengoyne, Handmade Single Highland Malt Whisky Fudge”!!  Made with 1% Whisky.  Does that mean if I’ve eaten 20 of these things I’ve had 20% Whisky??  They sure are (were) good!!

We will be in the Perthshire area tomorrow–probably my most favorite area in all of Scotland so I am really looking forward to it.  It is a beautiful forested area and with the Autumn colours I’m sure it will be stunning.  So far the weather looks good for tomorrow.  I’m hoping it will be so for just one more day.  The Highland Perthshire Autumn Festival is going on in the area so there will be plenty to do and see as we wait for our scheduled 7:15 pm ticket time to go see the Enchanted Forest.

Not much else to add for right now, so I think I’ll finish packing and head for bed.  Have missed everyone at home.  Have enjoyed having a chance to keep in touch via this blog and hope you’ve enjoyed it as well.  Never done anything like this but thought it would be fun–it was 🙂

I DO miss family and friends, but at the same time it’s with a feeling of sadness that I will now be leaving Scotland.  I can’t express to you what this has meant to me, or how grateful I am that Ryan wanted to do this for me (brings tears to my eyes thinking about it even now).  With Ben working as a Paramedic in Nebraska and not having seen him since last Christmas, it has been wonderful to have spent all this time with him as well.

It’s been a great time and Scotland has been all I thought it would be and more–much much more!!  It’s been wonderful to have had the chance to come “home”—-it’ll be great to be home.  Looking forward to seeing everyone soon.  God bless you all.

Howie

The Highlands, Part 2   Leave a comment

So much to try and pack in on this day, and so little time with the sun going down early.  After a quick breakfast of Scottish Porage we headed out to the Isle of Skye.  The further north we have gotten the harsher and more barren the landscape has become.  However, you can see the dormant Heather all around and I can really imagine that with Spring the hills must literally be alive with colour!!  Unfortunately, alive with “midges” also…..nasty biting blood-sucking little pests, smaller than gants and mosquitoes that swarm everything in sight!!!  FORTUNATELY midge season is over……..we talked to the locals about them….yeah, they’re as bad as we’ve heard……

Skye used to be accessed only by ferry but now there is a nice bridge that you can cross over.  Here’s a panorama of the area just before you get to the bridge–that you’ll see down at the right of the photo.  Skye is directly across the water:

Like I said, sooo much to see and yet we can’t see it all so we have to just sometimes watch the signs go by with sadness….One of the things I would have liked to see here was a lighthouse built by the Stevenson family.  Most people know that Robert Louis Stevenson is a famous author, but not many realize that he came from an extremely famous family of Lighthouse builders here in Scotland, and that he, in fact, started out to be so but then turned toward writing instead.  Many of the most incredible lighthouses built here in Scotland were by his father and brothers.

Other places we had to pass up because of lack of time, or daylight, were Culloden, Bannockburn, the Falkirk Wheel…and the way things look with our time and schedule, I don’t believe we’re going to make it to Glasgow…..well…next time… 🙂

As I’m writing this, it is 3:30 am, California time, but 10:30 am our time.  It raining outside, very dreary and we’re not moving around much.  I think we’re all pretty exhausted from the pace we’ve been maintaining over the entire time of our stay.  Also, it’s Thursday and we’re finding that a lot of the places that we would like to see are closed on Thursday–off season times now, don’t cha-know.  We’re probably going to take it easy today a do a little catching up.  Will make it a good time to catch up on this blog also.  Tomorrow we check out at 10 am, then head up to Perthshire area and at night we have tickets to see the Enchanted Forest ( http://www.enchantedforest.org.uk/ ).  After that we head down to the Airport, check in and wait around until 6 am when we fly out.  Hopefully our flight back will be uneventful and boring—unlike our flight here.

Anyway, where was I…oh yeah, Skye!!  The scenery on Skye is really amazing.  Sort of like when you go over to the California coast and the hills are barren.  But these have a ruggedness unlike anything I’ve seen before, and all down the hills you see these veins cut into the hills by the rivulets of water that are constantly flowing–creating incredible mini-waterfalls and streams.  And, as you look at these hills there’s this overwhelming magical feeling that just beckons you to want to climb it and experience the views that must await you at the top.  If we had the time we would have loved to.  Another interesting thing we’ve discovered is the wind that barrels down these hills—especially when you are in these little valleys between two of the hills.  You step aside from that funnel of a valley and it’s relatively “calm” again.  Another thing is the Sheep.  Scattered all over, not just together in a flock, and you will see them all up on the hills, on cliffs, rocks, nearly inaccessible ledges for a scrap of green when all around them down on the pastures there is lush green grass for easy grazing….go figure…..

Oh, and the Light!!!  With the weather as it is—and I LOVE this gray dreary weather (further proof that I’m Scottish 🙂 )–the light is constantly changing in dramatic fashion.  You look out across the way and off in the distance you will see the light bathing the cliffs, the moors or the Loch and you grab your camera, double check your settings, look up and it’s gone!–different now, ever changing, dramatic, breathtaking, alive.

And Rainbows!!!!  I’ve seen more rainbows in the sky on this trip than I think I’ve seen in my entire life!!  They tell us that if we think it’s amazing now we need to see them in the Spring!

Well, we wish that we could have seen more of Skye but we had to turn around and head back out.  We’re told that had we had the time we needed to go up to see the Orkney Isles–they said it is like another world entirely!….next time….

Back over the bridge, past Eilean Donan again for one last look and a few photos then off toward Fort William and on to Glencoe.   As we drove we were amazed to see up on the mountains that it had snowed during the night.  Not a lot but the amount that blanketed the hilltop was dramatic and beautiful.  Fort William has the highest amount of rainfall of any place in Scotland–that assessment appears to be quite true, yesterday anyway.  Ben Nevis, the highest mountain in Scotland, is also at Fort William—shrouded in fog and clouds…

Glencoe was a place that I wanted to see, not only because of the rugged beauty but because of the history that took place there–the Glencoe Massacre.  In 1692, the chief of the Glencoe MacDonalds was late in registering an oath of submission to William III, giving the government an excuse to root out a nest of Jacobite supporters.  For ten days 130 soldiers, captained by Robert Campbell, were hospitably entertained by the unsuspecting MacDonalds.  At dawn on Feb 13th, in a terrible breach of trust, the soldiers fell on their hosts, killing some 38 MacDonalds.  Many more died in their wintry mountain hideouts in their attempt to escape the massacre.

If you’ve ever been to Yosemite, picture those massive walls rising up on either side of you with the valley in between–totally devoid of trees!!!  That’s what Glencoe reminded us of.  Incredibly beautiful, rugged and breathtaking–and to picture what happened there in the dead of winter was very sobering.

We continued on through some starkly impressive moor regions–fortunately they weren’t enshrouded in fog but we could certainly see how dangerous they could be had they been.

After the moors we came to more forests and gradually back into the rolling hills that we’ve been accustomed to—and EVERYWHERE incredible Autumn colours!!  Just before dark we found ourselves, once again in Doune—where the “Monty Python” Castle is located.  This time there was a break in the rain so we stopped by and got photos of the outside.

That was enough for that day, night was upon us so back to “home” we went.  It had been a long two days filled with incredible moments, AND regrets on having to pass up other places we would have liked to have seen.  Scotland is growing on us like no other place we (I in particular) have ever been before.  We all mentioned over and over again, how we could really get used to living here very easily.   For my part, having grown up reading everything I could about Scotland–the land, the history, studying photos, being obsessed with the beauty and mystery of the land….being here has had, with me, the strange feeling that I am home…..

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