Sunday, October 9, 2022

Scotland Day 15 and 16 and homeward bound

 Sunday was our last full day in Scotland. After breakfast and short but poignant goodbyes, we loaded on the ferry and drove almost straight through to Edinburgh.  We had just enough time to check out two other attractions.

 The Falkirk Wheel

Three shots of the Falkirk Wheel rotating to exchange boats from one canal to another.

The Falkirk Wheel is “an engineering marvel” built in 2003 to connect two large canals. It replaced 29 locks that had been decommissioned decades ago.  One rotation of the wheel lifts a boat up from the small lake at the end of one canal to the aerial portion at the end of the other canal. Quite cool to watch.

 The Kelpies

A few miles away, connected by paved paths alongside the lower canal are The Kelpies, metal sculptures of horseheads standing almost 90 feet high. One of the other wedding guests said he didn’t think The Kelpies were worth the short detour off the freeway. I completely disagree! They are really, really cool! 

We got lucky with the sun and clouds - made for beautiful pictures.

A close up showing the metal structure of the sculpture.


The mane.

The inside of one Kelpie

Look how huge they are!  That is me standing under the head.

I'm really glad we stopped to check out The Kelpies.

The Kelpies visit made for a beautiful evening to end our tour of Scotland.

 We checked in to our hotel by the airport for a little bit of rest before flying home the next day.

The hotel had tiny eclairs waiting for us. Coffee creamer cup for scale.

Cheers to you, Scotland!

Day 16 return

I had a 3 am wakeup call for my 6 am flight to Paris. Because of thick ground fog in Paris, we were not allowed to take off until 7:45 am, making my 70-minute connection in Paris unlikely. My personal travel agent husband was attempting to fly standby from Edinburgh to Newark, so I was on my own. Luckily, Delta held the Paris to SLC flight for me and several others and my checked luggage even made the connect.  By 3 pm I was back home and Drew followed 6 hours later. 

That wraps up a fantastic trip! My take-aways for our Scotland adventure: friendly people, easy to navigate, surprisingly good food (I had heard otherwise but never had a bad meal, even at the truck stop), beautiful rugged mountains covered by grass and moss, not very many people, interesting skies with always a pretty cloud to make for amazing photographs, rain of multiple types at all time of the day lasting from 5 minutes to 5 hours, OK mountain biking but not what we expected, game trails turned into hiking trails, quite affordable, and loads and loads of history on display. I am content to have visited by ancestors' homeland.  Goodbye, Scotland!

Saturday, October 8, 2022

Scotland Day 14: You guessed it, more hiking, but surprise! Bollywood.


Saturday was our last full day on Raasay, but there was still so much to do! Drew took the ferry and car up to Portree to run some errands for the wedding couple and get a better vacation haircut than he got in either Vietnam or Costa Rica, while I did a solo hike.

 Dun Caan hike

I intended to peak bag Dun Caan, the highest point on Isle of Raasay, but I also wanted to be back by 2 pm for an activity, so I did the abbreviated route to the base of Dun Caan. Dun Cann means hill of the bucket in Gaelic.

 Friday’s big storm and continuing showers turned the trail into either a small stream,

or a bottomless mud pit. I had finding purchase for my feet, nevermind the bike tracks on this extreme example of a mountain bike trail.


For most of the hike, I couldn’t see the tippy top, due not to forest, but to topography. Near the top, I understood why. There is a ridge before you get to the base of the mountain top. At the bottom of the ridge lies a valley and a large lake. At the top of the ridge lies a small lake. I repeat: the top of the ridge holds a small lake! What kind of crazy combination of climate and geology has occurred to make a lake on the top of the ridge?  

Dun Caan is the flat-topped high point right of center. The large lake down in the valley left of center is Loch na Meilich. The small lake left of that is the one I am perplexed by. I'm standing at the high point south of the lake and you can see the small hill on the opposite side of the lake. That's the entire drainage basin for this ridgetop lake.

My guess is that the granite is nearly impermeable and there is so much rain that a shallow depression that would probably collect soil in other regions holds a small lake here. In my rough estimate, the drainage basin for this lake is only about 4 times the surface area of the lake. It is the most bonkers hydrology I’ve ever seen.


Topo map of the lakes and peak of Dun Caan. The small lake on top of the ridge is outlined in blue. The maximum drainage basin is outlined in red. Really crazy.

Down below, the large and clear Loch na Meilich holds the water supply source for the community of Inverarish where we are staying.  I'm not sure if Dun Caan gets its name from the shape of the peak or because the nearby lake is a "bucket" of water.

 The landscape was truly stunning and I took my time trying to capture a little bit of the atmospheric feeling.


Eventually, I had to hoof it down beside another sizable lake and a raging creek that quickly turned into a full blown river. This river is the size of a Utah River with hundreds of  square miles of drainage basin and here it has maybe one square mile.


My timing was just perfect to have Drew pick me up as I got to the paved road on his way back from Portree, where he had found doughnuts.


Or at least what looked like doughnuts. They tasted a bit more like cake, but at least now we have checked off Scotland on our "Married With Doughnuts" list.

Van Tour

 One of the owners of Raasay House schlepped us around the island in a 9 passenger van. He pointed out natural features and told us interesting stories about Raasay Isle history. Most of the facts can be gleaned from the Wikipedia entry


But the addition of individuals, back stories, and the consequences of history were fascinating.


The ruins of Brochel Castle on the east side of the island and a seldom occupied holiday house tucked into the cliff. 
David told us that Brochel Castle was probably not occupied as a residence but rather as a pirate stronghold. Pirates held control of the bay and extracted tithing from boats that sought safe harbor.

 I didn't get any pictures, but we saw a red deer (they are big!) and several sea eagles. 

Callums road was built by one man to connect the community on the north side of the island with the south but by that time the population has mostly left. The land is stony and rugged and I can’t imagine trying to live off this land.


We saw several areas where peat had been harvested. It isn't done much anymore. 

Low grade iron ore was mined for the World War I war effort. The kilns and mine building ruins remain. 

The workforce housing is still in use as housing for island residents and the general store.

Down time between the van tour and dinner was spent chilling and coloring in the library. 

Bollywood night

 For our last supper with the group, the chef prepared yummy curry dishes. With the colonial influence of the British Empire, there are loads of people of Indian descent in the UK and they brought with them their cuisine.    

To go with that theme, Jerda and Jeremy hosted us in full Indian garb and provided Bollywood dancers who performed and lead us in trying our hips and fingertips at Bollywood style dancing. 

The dancing performance was great.

These two have made sure we got the whole Scottish experience and then some!