10 July 2011

Vacation: The Road to Skye

We picked up our rental car and traveled out of Edinburgh toward Birnam to see the Birnam Oak. Once we arrived, parked and paid to go to the bathroom (and to park), we walked through town and down to the River Tay.

We stopped at a little tea shop and discovered Earl Grey Blue Flower tea. Delicious! Even Mom, who does not like hot tea, loved it.

After some fits and starts, we found the trail for the Birnam Oak. The path wound by the river and eventually, after Mom sat down to rest, I found the tree.

Actually I found two trees - the Birnam Oak and the Birnam Sycamore.

The Birnam Oak is a relic of the Birnam Wood, which is referenced in William Shakespeare’s “Macbeth.” It is entirely possible that Shakespeare himself saw the Birnam Oak. It is 24 feet in circumference.

The Birnam Sycamore, at 25 feet around, is actually larger than the Birnam Oak. However, it is estimated to only be about 300 years old.

When we left Birnam, I drove to the Highland Folk Museum. A living history museum that includes a recreated 1700s village.

The houses were so dark inside! Not even a candle to help you see. I had to use the flashlight app on my cell phone, so I wouldn’t trip over any furniture or holes in the earth floors.

There was also a recreated school from the 1930s.

While teachers in England used the cane, teachers in Scotland used the strap. The interpreter popped the strap on the floor for us, and it sounded like the crack of a bullwhip. Very loud and scary.

The school day lasted from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., and students were required to bring a peat brick every day for the fire.

Then I drove on to our hotel - The Loch Ness Clansman - on the side of Loch Ness. We did not see Nessie.

The next day we visited Urquhart Castle.

The earliest parts of the castle date from the 1300s. The views of the castle, Loch Ness and the surrounding countryside were spectacular. We spent much more time at Urquhart Castle than we really planned, but it was so lovely. Mom and I loved it.

I drove on to Eilean Donan Castle, which is one of the most photographed castles in Scotland.

Eilean Donan was built between 1912 and 1932 by members of the MacRae clan. It includes a memorial to those clan members who have died in the Great War.

Once we left Eilean Donan, walking past a busload of French-speaking tourists at the entrance, we took the bridge over to the Isle of Skye.

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