My last few days have been awesome. I got to go on a bus tour of the surrounding countryside, try new food (including more haggis and some whiskey) and meet new friends (including the fabulous Adele from Aussieland).
Driving through the countryside, I am enchanted. The landscape on the way out of Edinburgh is hazy with mist and dotted with many wee lambs in amongst the damp greenery. Small villages and farmhouses straddle the edges of farming estates, and we occasionally pass by paddocks with horses grazing. The hills gently roll away under the surprisingly bright blue sky, and patches of wild flowers flash their colors at us. If this is my redemption for the loss of my phone, I gratefully accept it.
Throughout the trip, our guide peppers in history lessons with songs by the proclaimers, Dougie McClain, and other Scottish songwriters. We pass by swaths of prickly gorse bushes (like natural border fences, yellow and ouch!), and learn about the union of the Scotts and the Picts.
We arrived at Blair Atholl and took in the castle and gorgeous grounds.
Next we moved on to a lovely hiking spot and a few other scenic overlooks before finishing the day at Killecrankie Gorge.
There’s an old tale I particularly like about Robert Bruce when he was fighting against the English (you know, the Scottish national pastime). He’s lost 6 battles and has gone into hiding in a cave in the highlands. It’s a stormy night out, the storm churning up the landscape outside. As he sits in sullen disappointment in his defeats, he looks to the entrance of the cave and sees a wee spider. This miniscule creature begins to lay down 1, 2, 3 strings of its webs before they get washed away by the rain. It tries again and the wind rips through the delicate strands. Again and again it tries, 6 times, to fix its web before it finally succeeds on the 7th try and settles in to wait for its prey. After watching this Bruce thinks to himself, “if this wee creature can persevere on behalf of its home and overcome a foe bigger than itself, so I must try for Scotland.” So he returns to fighting the English. If you know history, his story is not so poetic as this inspiring call to arms at all times, as he murdered one of his greatest rivals in a church (Greyfriars) where they were supposed to come to an agreement.
I have enjoyed my time here immensely and I will be sad to go. Like its people, Scotland’s history exhibits strength and grit and resolution of will. I can understand why Adele was traveling through here, and just ended up staying. With the mist burning off the basalt rock that thrusts Edinburgh castle into the sky, I find myself with a similar impulse not to leave.