Visit Scotland by Mouse
We had visited Scotland (tourist site)
briefly on a car trip in the 1980's. We made only two stops: Edinburgh
in the east and the
seaside town of Oban
in the west. We enjoyed the short stay in Edinburgh but Oban was fogged in. We could see nothing of the nearby
islands, and could just barely see the town's seaside. The drive from Edinburgh took us across the Scottish highlands and included
a very winding passage up the west side of Loch Loman. We saw just enough on that short visit to know that we wanted to return someday.
And we did in 2003, this time in our motorhome and armed with an invitation to visit a Scottish camper we had met in the Amsterdamse
Bos campground just south of Amsterdam in 2002. How we got this invitation will be explained when we describe our visit to our friend
on another page of this website.
The 2003 trip was longer, with stops in Edinburgh
(near Aberdeen), Braemar
in the Scottish highlands, Oban
the Island of Mull ( which is one of the Islands off Oban which we could not see on our first trip) and Glasgow
We found many things to like about Scotland in the short time we were able to spend there. The geography of the small part of it we
saw is quite varied, different from other places we have visited, and very pretty. The terrain ranged from the farmed lowlands on
the east coast to the rolling hills of the Scottish moors, merging to the more rugged and higher hills of the highlands to the rocky
seashore in the western part. The moors are barren of trees but are quite pretty. They are covered by a crazy quilt array of colors--
the lavender and grey of the heather, the green grass, browns, blues and blacks where the heather has been carefully tended by burning,
and the white of the rocks.. Throughout one sees small white dots on the rolling hills that are free ranging sheep, and every so often
when you come across farms there are those shaggy reddish brown Highland cattle
. These lower but rugged rolling moors gradually change
to higher hills when you enter the highlands.
Buildings are few and far between on the moors and highlands. Every so often one comes across the remains of a stone building abandoned
by some farmer who could not extract a livelihood from this rugged land. The buildings in the towns are mostly of stone and granite
in this land where there are no forests. Around the town of Dunecht there are circular stone cairns dating from the Bronze Age, evidence
that the Scottish people have lived here for centuries. Indeed, one of the earliest settlements, Skara Brae
, on the West Coast of
the Orkney mainland
in the north, dates from 3200 BC.
There is much more to Scotland than pretty and majestic scenery. The two
main cities we visited, Edinburgh and Glasgow, are centers of culture, learning and innovation. We hope this statement will be illustrated
when we describe the museums we visited the National Museum (formerly the Royal Museum) in Edinburgh, the Burrell Collection and the
Kelvingrove in Glasgow.
We are not sure why the name of the museum was changed from "Royal" to "National" but we suspect that
it has something to do with the relations between England and Scotland. The history of this relationship was never one of togetherness.
Both countries attacked each other numerous times until England finally came out the winner. Differences in religious practice were
part of the problem. The more densely populated parts of Scotland were Presbyterian, which was communally organized, while the state
religion in England was hierarchical Anglicanism. But complicating matters further, a minority of Scottish, mainly in the sparsely
populated highlands, was Catholic. And at various times in history this minority kept the possibility of a Catholic resurgence in
England alive, much to the dismay and fear of the English. So when Ron referred to Scotland in a way that included it as part of England,
his Scottish friend immediately set him straight. Scotland is part of Great Britain, as is England. England is a separate country,
emphasis on the separate. The feeling that grew on ignorant Ron was that his mistake in confusing the Scots with the English was considered
to be more than just a mistake: It was also insulting!
But don't go thinking that Scottish people are difficult to deal with.
We encountered no one remotely resembling the old stereotype of the dour, skinflint Scot. Everywhere, the people we met
were generous, outgoing, friendly, quick to help and anything but dour. We certainly list those qualities in the Scottish people
as strong reasons to spend as much time among them as you can afford.
Finally, we mention the climate. In truth, we are
no judge of that. Both our trips took place during spells of unusual weather. On our first trip, a tour bus driver in
Edinburg apologized for the unusual warm weather in July--it was about the mid seventies as we recall. And on our second
trip it was unusually dry--so dry that the salmon could not get over the exposed gravel banks in the River Dee in their effort to
get upstream. So for us, the weather was ideal both times. Apparently this was not so for the people who live there.
Our impression is that Scotland is usually cool in the summers with some rain expected.