Monday, April 11, 2011

Isle of Skye: The thrilling conclusion

We woke early to enjoy our last day on the Isle of Skye. This is the beautiful view outside the hostel window in the village of Kyleakin.

We crossed this bridge that divides Isle of Skye from mainland Scotland.

It no longer charges a toll, but when it first opened, it was considered one of the most expensive roads in Europe. Our guide told us that at the time, she had to pay around £40 to cross the bridge in the coach bus. The villagers protested the fees through refusing to pay the tolls, and were ultimately successful.

This is Eileen Donan Castle, one of the most photographed sights in Scotland. The original castle dates back to the 13th century, though it had been demolished and rebuilt in the past century. It was first used as a defence against the Vikings, and later during the Jacobite Risings. It has also been the filming for many movies, perhaps most notably, the Highlander.

This is Ben Nevis, the highest mountain in all of the British Isles. With all the clouds, we weren't able to see the summit, which is over 1,300m above sea level. For comparison, the highest Rocky Mountain is around 4,400m above sea level.

After a few stops, we made it to Glencoe, the site of the notorious Massacre of Glencoe. After the Jacobite Risings, which aimed to reinstate James VII of Scotland as the British monarch, the highlanders were asked to swear an oath of allegiance to the new king and queen. The MacDonald of Glencoe clan were not quick in announcing their loyalty.

The Campbell clan arrived in Glencoe and spent two weeks as guests of the highland clan, dining and socialising with them, before massacring the clan. Thirty-eight were killed directly during the massacre, while the majority of the rest of them died shortly after having had all of their food and belongings burned. Our guide's moral of the story: Never trust a Campbell. (Apparently, this is a saying that many Scots have been taught. Let's hope it isn't true; I live with one!)

I had to add this photograph because I couldn't believe the price of gas here! I complain when the it costs more than about $1 per L, but here, it cost £1.369 per L. That's over $2 per L! I don't know how people afford to drive out here. It was even more in London.

This is the Glenfinnan Viaduct, which made me excited because of its appearance in the Harry Potter movies. Apparently, during the summer, it's possible to take a the Jacobite steam train (aka: Hogwarts Express) along the route.

We stopped to visit Hamish the Highland Cow in Perthshire. Our tour guide said he's a very famous highland cow and people come from far away to visit him (and it appears that many tours do, indeed, stop to say hello). My Scottish flatmates, however, have never heard of him, so I'm guessing it's just part of the tourism. He was cute anyway!

And that's the end of the MacBackpackers trip! The bus stopped at the Wallace Monument, which is just on the edge of campus, so our guide kindly dropped my flatmate and I off at the residences, where we said goodbye and headed back to the real world, full of classes, and readings and essays—oh my!

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