With the Jamborette over, the Scouts went off by coach or train to visit with the families of the Scottish Scouts in their patrol. Morgan, Jamie, Doug and Ryan headed off to the Falkirk area in the Forth Valley, while Dan and Andrew went south to Castle Douglas. All the Scouts enjoyed their home stays immensely, and thanks are due to all the Scottish families who got stuck with all that muddy clothing… Dan wound up spending much of his time helping set up a farm show, and herding sheep. I don't know what his host family expected of a New Yorker, but I suspect they were surprised to get a Scout who grew up on a dairy farm.
As for Ed, Pete and myself, we picked up one of the ugliest rental cars in the UK - a metallic urine-sample colored Fiat - and headed north into the Highlands. I, for one, was not prepared for the rugged beauty of that part of the country. The Atholl area is not too unlike central New York, if slightly less wooded. The Highlands, however, are like the bones of the Catskills, without any vegetation other than grass and bushes. I half expected Rob Roy MacGregor and his men to rise from behind rocks and attack our Fiat.
As we drove north toward Skye, we passed through the spectacular scenery of Glen Shiel, and down to Loch Duich and Eilean Donan Castle. Eilean Donan (Eelan Dohnan) is the castle from the movie Highlander, and appears on most of the calendars of Scotland in pictures taken on one of the two sunny days each year (we missed them). It's very picturesque, but was actually built in the 1920's on the ruins of an actual ancient castle. North from there, we went Over the Sea to Skye (on a bridge). As beautiful as the Highlands were, I was much more taken with Skye. The sea was visible everywhere, and the Cuillin Hills inland provided contrast. We circled the island by one-lane (two-way) roads, and had dinner at Portree, the capitol.
The next day, it was off to Loch Ness and a visit to Urquhart Castle and the Loch Ness Monster Visitor
Centre. Ed looked as hard as he could, but didn't see Nessie. Luckily, though, I took a few pictures… That evening we stayed in
Luss, on the bonny, bonny banks of Loch Lomond (sorry, I couldn't resist). Luss is the ancestral home of the
Colquhouns, which is Pete's clan, so I insisted on staying there. It's also the quaint little village where a famous British soap opera (Take the High Road) is filmed. Never having seen the soap, we were less impressed than the other tourists, but it was pretty and the bed at the bed and breakfast was much appreciated.
Our last day in Scotland was spent in Glasgow. We dropped Ed off at the train to London, so he could fly back to Germany, and Pete and I wandered around Glasgow with Kirstie Strachan from the Jamborette staff. Glasgow was OK, if you like cities - sort of like Baltimore with an impenetrable Scottish accent and no crab cakes.
And so our Scottish trip ended. We repacked our bags, crammed the souvenirs into anywhere they'd fit, met the Scouts at the airport and boarded the plane for home.