DAY 7: Edinburgh to Strathpeffer

We left Edinburgh this morning on a sunny (but windy) day.  Our drive took us north towards the highlands.  We soon arrived in the town of  St. Andrews.  Many of my mates back home will be glad to know I did find their  St. Andrews shirts at the golf course.  Cheers!

We drove on to Dundee and stopped at the "Discovery", an old wooden sailing ship.  As we continued on, we saw more bodies of water, the largest being the Firth of Forth.  The relatively high winds worked to our advantage as we saw some impressive break water!  The terrain turned rough and hilly. 

St. Andrews (old course).

Despite this terrain, the thick green cover encompasses the whole view.  This green is highlighted not only by the rocky outcrops, but also the orange broom (flowers on a thorny bush) and ever present yellow canola fields.

Our drive took us through Dundee and past Perth.  An interesting characteristic of some of the larger cities and towns is that we frequently see pockets of mini-villages.  These are clusters of small shops and homes, usually with churches and schools.  It's a striking difference to our concept of neighborhoods in the states, and I think this is a significant factor in the relatively low crime rate and amazing openness of the locals.  Since crossing the border of Scotland, I don't recall having the feeling of being considered "a tourist".  Rather, the Scots treat us as friends "on holiday".

The Ocean is beautiful
anywhere in the UK!

We moved on to Pitlochry for a lunch break and then to Blair Castle, which was the last castle in England under siege.  It is currently the only castle in Europe with a standing private army.  The exterior of this castle isn't particular impressive, but the inside contains a huge collection of artifacts and furnishings.

As we made our way north to Straphpeffer, the fields of canola gave way to hills of heather.  At this time of year, the heather has not bloomed, but in season it creates blankets of deep purple on the rising hills.  The highlands remind me of western North Carolina, but in a grander scale.  Large barren areas give way to thick and lush patches of forest and farmland.

Blair Castle

We stopped by the oldest bridge in Scotland, and then by Culleden Moor where Bonnie Prince Charlie met his great defeat.  We arrived at our hotel at Strathpeffer in the early evening.  Our hotel is a large stone building built in the late 1800's.  The rooms are nice and fairly modern.  Walking the hallways and stairwells is a trip back in time.  The view out of the front door is spectacular.  We'll be here for a couple of days as we venture out into various places in the highlands.

Dinner tonight was a 2 to 3 hour affair -- multiple courses brought out over time.  Unfortunately, this caused us to miss the highland dancers and bagpipe band in the middle of town.  Douglas and I would rather have skipped another fancy dinner and have chips and a coke in town (to catch the show)!  Well, maybe we'll have another opportunity to see traditional dancers and a full bagpipe band.

The oldest bridge in Scotland.   
(Sorry for the glare -- this was
the only angle we could shoot from!)

We finished dinner and made our way to town just as the dancers and band had finished.  We wandered the town for a while, visited the people in the local shops and headed back to the hotel.  We don't have phones in the rooms here in Strathpeffer , so it will be a challenge to get this update off to you!  I think we're off to the Isle of Skye tomorrow...

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