Daily Archives: June 26, 2022

A man, a plan, a canal —

We fell in love with the Scottish Highlands. Driving more or less along the Caledonia canal has us gasping at the vistas and forcing ourselves not to stop every couple of hundred meters to take yet another photo that our son will probably look at when we’re dead and delete. We decide to resist the temptation to record everything for posterity and just revel in the joy of the moment. It’s hard.

We stopped at Fort Augustus to sit at a café and watch the action at the locks. There are six locks here, connecting the canal to Loch Ness.

Sometime during our canal-side lunch, we came to a decision. We’ll take the Northlink Ferry from Aberdeen directly to Shetland in time for Midsummer. It’ll be the farthest north either of us has ever been, and we’ll be there for the longest day of the year.

I’m happy we have a plan. My job now is to book the ferry, which of course we must do as we’re taking a campervan. The trip is just over 12 hours, and others recommend booking a cabin instead of the (free) chairs or (cheap) “sleeping pods.” Cabin it is.

We found a beautiful parkup on Loch Ness and I got to work. Unfortunately all the cabins were booked for the coming week, so getting there before Midsummer is out. The first available cabin is on June 20th, which puts us there on the 21st, and it’s an inside cabin with no porthole. We booked it.

So now we need to figure out what to do for the next week while we wait for the ferry.

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Ask any Scotsman

Really any regular Scottish bloke, if asked what is not to be missed while visiting his country, will get that far away look in his eyes and softly say “Glencoe.” It’s quintessentially Scotland, not Bronze Age Crofts or stoney castles. Turns out that it’s not far away. Really nothing is truly far away in a country as small as Scotland. It might take you awhile, what with roundabouts every half a mile and share and share alike one lane roads, but it’s not far. So this story is about pictures. Pictures of the Scottish soul.

A Scotsman would smile and say this is normal Scottish weather, but I call it a rising damp.

No one really knows how to build a Glencoe turf house. There are no carefully preserved examples and if you examine the materials mostly found on site you’d know why. Stone, turf cut in a fetching herringbone pattern, and as little wood as possible. The stone ends up in a pile of rubble, the wood rots away, and the turf, well the turf ends up as mud. So while my guess is not as good as theirs, after due diligence and research they’re still guessing. This is a recreation using over 2,000 wooden rods woven into a basket-like structure. They took the wooden rods with the when they moved because trees were scarce. The researchers reckon they’ve got it pretty close. They examined current construction techniques in the area and researched tendencies used during the times they figure it probably looked something like this. It’s still pretty cool.

It was difficult to tear ourselves away after such stunning beauty but we knew we had a rainy drive to what is now known as the £15 lady’s parkup on Loch Linnhe. Even the parkups are beautiful around here.

I think there’s something to this Scottish soul thing.

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