|Scotland, Part 2
||[Nov. 5th, 2005|06:19 am]
Our first port of call on Wednesday morning was Glenfinnan at Loch Shiel where Charles Edward Stuart (Bonnie Prince Charlie), the grandson of King James II, attracted 1200 Highlanders to his cause: to take back the British throne. They were known as the Jacobites, and at a later date we learned of their eventual fate during a visit to a sacred battlefield.|
Next we took a breathtaking hike up to Steall Falls, Glen Nevis; through forests, up rocks, and across streams, all the while amazed at the waterfalls and the power of the river. Here we learned about the Broonie, a sort of elf or sprite, which isn't very nice to look at (and doesn't like to be seen anyway). The Broonies, legend has it, may do good things for people if they are not mistreated.
On the road again, we stopped for a short time to take in the view at Loch Garry, then it was on to the Isle of Skye. We reached Skye by driving across the controversial bridge that replaced the ferries in the mid-'90s.
In the pouring rain, and surrounded by very rugged mountains, some of us followed our guide's example and dunked our heads in the river at Sligachan, a seemingly crazy act which, if repeated daily, is said to lead to robust health and long life. And here, standing with rivulets of water running down our necks, we learned the tale of two legendary warriors who shook the mountains with their epic battle.
We climbed a very wet and muddy hill to examine the remains of a Broch, a circular fortification from the Iron Age. By this time the inadequacy of some of the women's footwear was becoming painfully obvious. During the descent, they redeemed themselves in my eyes by (involuntarily) sliding back down the hill on their behinds, which amused me no end.
After checking into the hotel at quiet little Edinbane, scrubbed clean and wearing dry clothes, we found we had the pub to ourselves. Our guide and I tried the dark ale, and later on I discovered an appreciation for the local scotch. Not long into the evening two young men came in, one medium-sized with short blond hair and the other large-sized with long black hair. They picked up musical instruments and very quickly became the centre of attention. Blond was the virtuoso, demonstrating his skill throughout the night with several different instruments, starting with the bagpipes and moving onto guitar and piano. Black, who could strum a guitar and sing quite nicely, especially in accompaniment to his friend, had the personality and wit. As far as I know, they were not professionals, merely two local lads who had dropped in, probably more for the company than anything else. An old man came in later on to play with them, and they were much appreciated by our group.
We were also joined for a time by a couple of strangers and their dog. Blond & Black and these two strangers had never met before, but they were soon making music together. The woman was in her thirties with dreadlock-style hair and exceptionally beautiful skin. She came in carrying a saw -- a saw like the one your dad keeps in the shed for cutting up planks of wood. She also had a large rosined bow, of the type you might expect to see a violin player using. She expertly used this saw and bow, bending the saw this way and that, to accompany Blond and Black on all manner of songs and instrumentals. She seemed to be able to attain any note at will. Her boyfriend was a tall and very thin man in his twenties with a bumfluff beard and a camcorder.
We slept in the rooms over the pub.