Prehistory Onwards

We were too tired to write yesterday, so you get a double post today.

Yesterday we started the day by trekking to Rob Roy’s grave in Balquhidder.  You get there by driving up into the highlands, turning right, going past seven million non-highland cows and seventy million sheep, then turning left at the big mountain and driving the one lane road for approximately six years.  Then you find yourself in a wee village that hasn’t changed in 700 years, literally, and you go under the bridge, up the windy road and boom, there’s a tiny church next to the ruins of a tinier church.  And there’s Rob Roy’s grave.

Even now, people take flowers to it.  It’s strewn with coins and trinkets.  Hopefully the little church benefits from that, because I’m sure they’re tired of people trampling all over their grass.  It’s lovely, it’s quiet, peaceful and serene.

Like everywhere else in Scotland.  Seriously, this country is so beautiful it’s almost abusive.  I mean really, can’t we just look at something boring for a moment?  I kid, Scotland, keep it real, totes.

After that, we headed far west to Kilmartin Glen, a valley with 800 prehistoric sites.  There are cairns, which look like big piles of stones but you can climb in some of them.  There are petroglyphs, mostly of concentric circles and dips in the rock that they call cups.  And there are standing stones.  We saw all of the above, but not all 800.  We saw standing stones in a line, standing stones in circles, cairns you could climb into, cairns you could stand on top of, and hedges, which are concentric circles of stones with grass on top.  Note the circles theme?

The cool thing is, you can walk right up to these and touch them.  They’re in the public trust.  They know that these things have been standing for 5,000 years and you’re not going to hurt them.  And somehow, mostly they’re untouched by scumbags.  I will say there was some modern scratched graffiti inside the Nether Large Cairn, by Temple Wood.  That made me sad.  But other than that, no spray paint, no markings, no mess.  These are places too remote for hooligans I guess.

On the way back, we saw a pine marten run across the road.  Apparently they’re elusive. We think they’re cute.  I’m pretty sure it wants to come home and cuddle with us, but Chris says that “Sherlock’s belly is soft, and Pine Marten’s belly bites”. Also, while looking for food, we turned down a tiny dirt one lane road to a brewery and finally saw HIGHLAND COWS!  We had seen so many regular cows, that we’d started wondering if the Scots had shorn their cows for the summer or something.  There was shrieking and car-stopping and picture taking and I’m sure the cows thought we were completely nuts.

Today, we said goodbye to the kind folks at Ben Bheula and trekked to Glencoe, via Dunans Castle.  Dunans is a 19th century castle home (as opposed to a military castle.  Craigmillar, which we saw on Th or F was a military castle and much older) and it’s being saved.  You can buy a lairdship there and own one square foot of land on the property, and of course I gave that to Chris for Christmas two or three years ago.  So, we went to tour the land and see the castle and hear about the progress.  It’s beautiful, and like everything else there are pictures.

After Dunans, we wandered through tiny village after tiny village until we finally reached Glencoe.  It took us a really long time to reach Glencoe because the highlands are really, really beautiful.

Let me put it to you this way.  Imagine fairyland in your head.  Now, make everything an impossible color of green.  No, greener.  Five or six shades of greener.  Add yellow, purple and orange wildflowers, and this tall, purple grass that bursts into feathery grains at the top.  That’s Scotland.  Now, imagine something that makes that seem plain and boring.  Mountains that rise out of nothing, scooped on one side by glaciers and striped by rivers that have eroded their way down to the valley.  Wide, wide boglands with dots of lochs and ponds reflecting black.  Layers of misty mountains as far as the eye can see, in every single direction. It’s mind-numbing. Nothing can do it justice but standing here.  I think it’s possible that this valley is the most beautiful place on earth.

Mind.  Numbing.

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