Welcome reader to my blog - a mixture of this and that. Now that we are living in a retirement community in downtown Columbia, MD my personal gardening activities are somewhat curtailed. I still enjoy visiting gardens, reading, watching wildlife on my walks, traveling, and occasional food commentary. Please leave a comment if you feel inspired to do so. I read every one of them.

Tuesday, October 31, 2017

Scotland - "Bagging a Munro"

At our orientation to Scotland we learned that climbing the named mountains was quite a sport.  In a pub you could brag that "you bagged a munro" - climbed a mountain.

Dan was keen to do this so did some searching for one easily accessible from our base in Dunblane and a fairly reasonable height.

We put the postal code in the satnav one morning, early, and set off to bag a munro, with the mountain being Schiehallion.

Here was the turn off to the parking lot so the satnav came through.  We arrived early enough to find a parking place.  We had the correct change for the parking sticker and helped out another pair of hikers who did not.  When we returned from our hike we donated our parking sticker to someone who had no change for the parking.

It was a cold day with a mix of sun and clouds and wind.  We were dressed in layers including gloves.  The trees gave way fast to open ground.

I had on my warmest jacket and down vest.  I took off the coat pretty soon as the path started to climb.

The heather was beautiful.

We couldn't see the summit from the trail but not because of the clouds.

We came upon ruins along the trail.

At the early hour there were few hikers on the trail.

Looking back to where we came from.

I made it about a third of the way up before stopping for good, sending Dan ahead.

I had a nice outcropping of rock to sit on and admire the scenery and changing sky.

I found the lichen fascinating.

More and more hikers passed by as I sat there to eat an early lunch.

Dan climbed about 2/3 of the way up before joining me then for lunch and then the walk back to the car.  We timed it right because a light mist started falling.

On the road out we met these sheep.

The hike did not take the whole day so we traveled on to see another spot on our list.

Saturday, October 28, 2017

Scotland - Doune Castle

Doune Castle was the very first castle we visited and our first hair raising experience driving on the left without our guide Val to follow.

Doune is known to Monty Python fans as the castle used in the 1975 movie Monty Python and the Holy Grail.

This is what Lonely Planet's guide for Scotland says:
" ...one of the best-preserved medieval fortresses in Scotland, having remained largely unchanged since it was built for the Duke of Albany in the 14th century."

It goes on to say: " The castle was a favorite hunting lodge, but was also of great strategic importance because it controlled the route between the Lowlands and the Highlands ... the loft gatehouse is very impressive, rising nearly 30m."

Here are the outer walls.

The inside has been used recently for scenes for the show Outlander.

That arched recess is a fireplace.

Winding staircases galore.

The cathedral like Great Hall.

Dark winding staircases!

The Dukes private chambers if I remember correctly.

This was our first experience using the GPS or satnav in the rental car.  We put in the postal code for Doune Castle and when we got close we followed the signs where to turn.  The satnav was upset and told us to turnaround when it was obvious that the entry to the castle was ahead.  This only happened a couple of times thankfully.

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