Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Edinburgh and the Scottish Highlands

Shivering at Loch Ness in the Scottish Highlands
I don't know what we were expecting really.
Maybe rolling hills and a few tall peaks. The odd crag, perhaps. All we knew for certain was we wanted to get up into the Scottish Highlands.

What we ended up seeing was nothing short of spectacular.

With more than 280 mountains in Scotland and  most dusted in snow, it was our good fortune to see the richness and textures so beautifully limned this winter. Last year the public had 5 months - months! - of skiing. This year? Only 3 weekends' worth. But for us, it was perfect. These rugged mountainous beauties stood so close to the roads we could lay our hands on them despite their peaks disappearing into the clouds. 
Into the Highlands
These mountains were thrust up from the earth by the same tectonic plate shift that created the Appalachian Mountains. (Small wonder so many Scotsmen felt at home in that part of North America, specifically Virginia.)
Our 12-hour tour took us from Edinburgh north up into the Highlands and through the breathtaking Glencoe Valley.
From Glencoe we continued north to Loch Ness where no unusual sightings were logged from the huge, churning deep. There are over 31,000 lochs in all of Scotland and Loch Ness is the largest in terms of volume.
Throughout the day we saw some of the locals . . .
The highland cattle have a most welcome thick double-coat of hair to keep them comfy in the harsh weather.
. . . had lunch in a pub (surprise!) . . .
Plenty of whiskies to choose from for lunch.
and reflected on the scenery.
Loch Lubnaig, one of the 31,000 lochs (lakes) in Scotland
Back in Edinburgh the following day,  our sightseeing was somewhat dampened by the weather but we still managed a walk along the Royal Mile, a visit to the Scottish National Gallery, some haggis, whiskey and sleep.
Snowing on the Royal Mile
For more pictures of our trip to Edinburgh and the Scottish Highlands, take a wee second and click here.

Despite the cold rain and snow, the pipers were out along the Royal Mile: