The Grand Finale to the Adventure

The Isle of Skye

On this day we had a full day of sightseeing with an excursion to the Isle of Skye, considered to be the loveliest of all the Scottish islands.   The Isle of Skye is the largest and northernmost of the major islands in the Inner Hebrides of Scotland.  The island has been occupied since the Mesolithic period, and its history includes a time of Norse rule and a long period of domination by Clan MacLeod and Clan Donald.  About a third of the residents were Gaelic speakers in 2001. 

The morning rides were exceptionally beautiful as the heather was just starting to bloom. 

The Heather was just starting to bloom.  In the more mountainous areas it was really blooming. 

Highland Countryside

We had lunch on our own in Skye and it was outstanding.  Fish and chips with a side of slaw were outstanding.  There was an enormous piece of cod and it was caught fresh that morning.  It was rainy and we had to get back to the coach to continue to our next stop and observe the beautiful country. 

Our next stop was Eilean Donan Castle. It is on a small tidal island where three sea lochs meet,  and is a picturesque castle that frequently appears in photographs, films and television. Eilean Donan, which means simply “island of Donnan,” is named after Donnan of Eigg, a Celtic saint martyred in 617. Donnan is said to have established a church on the island, though no trace of this remains.

More of the Highlands

Eilean Donan Castle

There we are

The castle was founded in the 13th century and became a stronghold of the Clan Mackenzie and their allies the Clan MacRae.  In the early 18th century the Mackenzies involvement in the Jacobite rebellions led in 1719 to the castle’s destruction.  It seems as we read through the history of these people, they were always fighting.  Maybe it was in their diet. 

Next day we followed the Malt Whiskey Trail considered the ultimate Scotch experience.  The trail is a partnership of nine whiskey destinations, all of them based in the heart of malt whiskey country in Speyside.  These partner organizations range from active distilleries like Benromach, Glen Grant, Glen Moray, Glenfiddich, Glenlivet, and Strathlisa as well as historic distilleries like Dallas Dhu and the Speyside Cooperage.  

Scottish Cattle.  Touring through the countryside on a narrow two lane road, lo & behold the coach came to a quick stop, flashers on, and we all got a picture of the traditional cattle. 

Speyside Cooperage

In the heart of the Malt whiskey Trail lies the Speyside Cooperage, the only working cooperage in the UK where we experienced the ancient art of coopering.  The Cooperage continues to work and produce the age-old product, still using traditional methods and tools.  

The casks are obtained from whiskey distillers in the U.S. and wine producers from around the world and rebuilt to be used in aging Scotch Whiskey.  

Next stop was the Glen Moray Distillery.  Located in the heart of Speyside, Scotland’s whiskey capital, the Glen Moray distillery has been producing fine single malt since 1897.  The distillery uses ex bourbon barrels sourced from North America to mature Glen Moray and these produce a whiskey with rich and spicy characteristics.  

Home to the Distillery

Making Scotch Whiskey

Aging Scotch Whiskey

Here is where we sampled the fine scotch whiskey and made our purchases.  The question by some of the people on the tour was, “How do you get this home?”  A very simple solution is we pack it in our dirty laundry and load it in the suitcase.  We have never had a broken bottle yet. 

Next day we visited Glamis Castle, the childhood home of the Queen Mum.  Afterward, we crossed over into the ancient Kingdom of Fife and explored St Andrews.  This town is home to the University of St. Andrews and the place where Prince William met Kate Middleton.  The beautiful seaside town is also known as the home of golf.  From St. Andrews we proceeded onto Edinburgh. 

Glamis Castle. 

A large stone was erected to this man and I took a picture of the plaque.  We all enjoy Angus beef and this is the man responsible for the development. 

Our next stop was Edinburgh.  We arrived late afternoon and checked into our hotel just a few steps from the Royal Mile.  That evening was to be the highlight of the trip.  

The Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo is an annual series of military tattoos performed by British Armed Forces, Commonwealth and international military bands, and artistic performance teams on the esplanade of Edinburgh Castle.  The event is held each August as part of the Edinburgh Festival. 

The term tattoo is derived from a 17th century Dutch phrase doe den tap toe (“turn off the tap”). It is a signal to tavern owners each night, played by a regiment’s Corps of Drums, to turn off the taps of their ale kegs so that the soldiers would retire to their billeted lodgings at a reasonable hour.  

It was a short walk up the Royal Mile, however it was wall to wall people taking baby steps.  I turned around to take this picture.  The stadium holds 9,000 people, and you must have reserved seats as it is always sold out.  

Looking ahead of me.  Amazing we made it with plenty of time to spare. 

We are on the top row and it was a great place as we could see everything. 

The Scottish marching music was fantastic, and the acoustics were outstanding. 

Different countries were represented. 

Watch the you-tube videos below for the 2018 performance  Copy and paste into your browser to watch the videos.  

The tour of Scotland was one of the major highlights in our lives of touring the world. 

 

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Good hunting, good fishing, and good luck. Hank

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