Editor’s Note: Yesterday, I mentioned I took my pants off on the bus. Well, a very kind Scottish lady messaged me and said that pants means panties or underwear in Scotland!! So, basically I announced to the bus that I would be removing my underwear! For the record…TROUSERS (just the first pair! I had on 2!) removed. Pants, firmly in place! 😇
Hello, darkness, my old friend… 🎶 It got dark last night! Now, don’t get the wrong idea… The sun is still clocking overtime hours. Sunset is at 10pm and sunrise is at 4:30am. But I actually slept really good without zzz pills because I didn’t wake up every 30 minutes to adjust my sleep mask all night from the light pouring in…
This little village was so quaint… It could have been plucked from a movie set and placed here! The gardens… Oh my the gardens! I’m a plant rescuer, and buy plants that are about to be thrown away from garden centers, or get plants for free from people who no longer want them. Then, I try to landscape my yard with the resulting mish mash! These gardens were inspirational! So perfect! I needed more time! But there was none. Back to the bus. We drove by Loch Lomand, but didn’t even get to stop for pictures! Trying to take them from the bus is so hard because of the glare. You have to put the camera right up to the glass, which means no glare, but not the angle you want. #firstworldproblems
Then we drove by Loch Long, and through an amazing little valley of sorts! We got to stop at a little area that was quite beautiful. Argyll Forest Park. 10 minutes? How am I supposed to enjoy the scenery, try to come up with at least one decent picture, explore the little wild plants, and search for wee (that’s twice!) bugs in 10 minutes? Sigh. Also, it looked like a perfect place to have a picnic! But something tells me I’m the only person who packed my own groceries…
We approached the little white village of Inveraray. Apparently, in the late 1700s, the castle owner wanted the peasants off his grounds so he could expand his gardens (and probably not have to look at all the poor, lowly folk!). So he built them this entire village with every building they needed. The ultimate wealthy person version of “Hey you, kids! Get off my lawn!” #brianshero The driver said we’d have a good view of the castle to the right of the bus. Hey! I on the right! I pressed the phone to the window and started snapping. Then, we drove to the castle, just for a couple of pics. My lord, this thing looked right outta Disney! There was a tour! But no time. I cursed under my breath while we were dropped off in the village for an hour and a half lunch break. Lunch?! But there’s a CASTLE over there! Sigh. I found myself a nice bench on the edge of Loch Fyne, which is a SALTWATER loch, interestingly enough! I didn’t know lochs could be saltwater- it opens right to the ocean. Made myself a peanut butter and banana sandwich, ate some cheese crackers, and had a cookie- all with a better view than anyone who was sitting in a restaurant. Perfect. Then, walked around town.
After town, I decided to walk along the road back to the bridge where we had that first view of the castle. A little sketchy with all the traffic, but I lived. There were some cool birds! Got some nice shots and headed back to the village.
Back on the bus (which after missing the chance to go in that castle, will now be referred to as the sheep wagon!), and off to the next stop- Kilmartin. This was actually kinda two stops in the same area. First, the prehistoric Stone-Henge-esque area. This place dates back about 5000 years ago! It had been covered by a thick layer of peat. When that was removed, the standing stones and burial mounds were found below. Amazing! I’ve done a bit of independent research, and can’t find any firm decision on what they may have been used for. The guide said something about lining up with the solstice, but I can’t find any information on that. What is interesting are those “bowls” carved into the left side. This is called cup and ring, and is found in many places like this, but no one has any idea what the meaning is…I find that so fascinating. It must have had some major importance to them, but now it’s lost forever… Then, we went to some of the burial mounds. Very interesting stuff! What wasn’t so interesting was how people were behaving. There was one burial tomb that you could “lay” in to get a photo. Yeah, I don’t consider desecrating the burial sites of ancient people a “photo op”. I consider it to be disrespectful of the people, the place, and the history. This isn’t an amusement park. Wasn’t a fan of that…
When we were done walking through the fields of history (where sheep now graze!), we headed to Kilmartin village. We had 30 minutes. Decisions, decisions…
Mary with a car would have done everything. Mary with 30 minutes chose the historic gravestones. Ooooooo….good choice!! So there’s a really cool “old” church. Old is in quotes, because this really is the new one. It was opened in 1835, but this site has had churches on it since the 900s!! And the really awesome cemetery outside of the church proves it. Gravestones are there from the 900s!! Let that sink in for a minute! The really old stones have been brought inside of the church to be protected from the elements. And honestly, compared to the stones from the 1800s that are in the cemetery, these are in excellent condition even though they are 900 years older! And they were only brought inside in 1977! Amazing!
There was more to see outside in the cemetery! A building had been built to protect several large stones. These were medieval slabs that would cover a grave, rather than stand upright like the ones inside the church. They range from the 1200s to the 1700s. Designs include things like swords, hunting, and creatures like lions and unicorns to symbolize royalty. Just so fascinating!
I then went out into the main cemetery. There was such an air of history in the place- looking out over the fields toward the 5000 year old stones and burial chambers, to this more familiar type of burial area that dated back “only” 1000 years. Who knows what is under all of that ground?
Next stop, the Isle of Seil. We were coming here to see a bridge. And not just any bridge- the Clachan bridge. It was built in 1792, and is the oldest bridge built over the Atlantic Ocean! Now, obviously you aren’t driving from here to New York or anything, but this is an island. And the flow of water that looks like a river between the mainland and the island is the Atlantic Ocean. It’s a beautiful bridge, and on one side a fairly rare purple flower called the Fairy Foxglove (Erinus alpinus) grows.
That’s not the only thing interesting about this little island! I’m still learning about Scottish history…but there was a Jacobite uprising in 1745, and the wearing of the kilt was banned! When the men would come back to the island, this little building is where they would remove their trousers (NOT pants!!) and put on the forbidden kilt…. History. It’s awesome.
And that was the end of our tour for the day! Last stop would be the town of Oban (pronounced Obin), where we would be staying for the night. You had options to book your own accommodations with this tour, or have them included. Seriously, I have enough to do, so I just made it easy on myself and included them. I figured some little hostel kind of situation or something. People were getting dropped off at a lot of different places around town. Imagine my surprise when we pulled up to an ocean front GORGEOUS stately bed and breakfast named the Corriemar House and my name was called!! YIPPEE!! Oh, it’s so beautiful and antiquey inside!! I had a huge, beautiful room with a bathroom (they call that “en suite”). I’m feeling mighty spoiled by Scotland….