Our flight from Dublin to Edinburgh was uneventful and so was our drive to Glasgow for our first overnight stop last night. We were a little delayed in leaving Ediburgh with some shopping for phone cards and a guide book that took a little longer than we expected. We think that we left Dublin at about the right time as Queen Elizabeth was due to arrive there on the following morning and the traffic would have been chaotic with all the security and traffic diversions.
It has been raining off an on for the last 24 hours and so far, Scotland is not quite as comfortable as our time in Ireland. Our hotel in Glasgow had been recently renovated and was very nice, although a little way out of the centre of town. It was too wet to walk very far, so we ventured down to an Indian restaurant on the next corner named ‘Mr Singhs’.
Working out where to eat, and what to eat, created my first problem in Scotland. Valerie, the very helpful receptionist at the hotel had such a broad Scottish accent that I couldn’t understand a word she was saying. Rather than appear completely stupid and ask her to repeat her directions to the restaurant for the third time, I decided it would just be better to head in the general direction in which she waved her arm and hope for the best. At the restaurant, we found Mr Singh’s waiter dressed very properly in a tie and kilt. Well, if we thought that Valerie was hard to understand, we had no hope of understanding a kilt wearing Indian with a combined Indian and Sottish accent. Somehow, we managed to order and enjoy a very nice meal.
Today, we drove along the shores of Loch Lomond to Inverary for lunch and then to tonight’s stopover in Oban
Loch Lomond is the largest freshwater lake in Great Britain and is backed by Scotland’s highest mountain, Ben Lomond. it is immortalized in the famous song about taking the high road, and the the low road. Different to my understanding, the song doesn’t refer to a travel route, but was probably written by a soldier of the 1745 Rebellion on his way back to Scotland during the 1745-6 retreat from England. The “low road” is a reference to the Celtic belief that if someone died away from his homeland, then the fairies would provide a route of this name for his soul to return home.
We stopped for lunch in the cute little town of Inverary. The whitewashed buildings are very photogenic and the town includes a number of attractions – an old jail, a castle and a maritime museum that our touring notes said was not worth visiting, so we didn’t. Inverary is located on the western shore of Loch Fyne near its head, and on the A83 road. It is the traditional county town of Argyll and ancestral home to the Duke of Argyll.
For the last part of the day, we took the coastal route to Oban through Campbelltown. This took us past the very pretty Crinan Canal. It is only nine miles long and it connects the village of Ardrishaig on Loch Gilp with the Sound of Jura, providing a navigable route between the Clyde and the Inner Hebrides, without the need for a long diversion around the Kintyre peninsula, and in particular the exposed Mull of Kintyre. It is a popular route for yachts to travel from the Firth of Clyde to the west coast of Scotland. The canal was originally built for commercial sailing vessels and later Clyde puffers to travel between the industrialised region around Glasgow to the West Highland villages and islands. I was able to help one yachtsman open the very heavy gates at one of the locks as he travelled through.
We made a couple of stops at some historic sites, one them being an ancient ring fort that in the middle ages was a thriving settlement that supported trade and acted as a defensive location. There is nothing much there now other than a few rocks and remnants of walls.
By now, the rain had really set in and we had a very wet arrival out our overnight B&B as well as a wet walk down the hill to a restaurant in the main street of the town.