Saturday, 24 June 2017

Scotland #9 - Loch Lomond

View from the Corries B&B
We are in a charming, newly built B&B, the Corries, overlooking Loch Lomond. It is, once again, evidence that price is not always an indication of quality. We are paying less here than anyplace else on this trip, and yet our accommodation is all anyone could want; everything sparkling, beautifully maintained. Brodie, our host, is a professional photographer of the highest order. He has magnificently captured the beauty of the lake and the hills in his photographs hanging in the rooms and in the common room.

Loch Lomond
While Loch Lomond, the largest lake in this part of Scotland, is indisputably beautiful, it is to me something of a letdown. The surrounding green hills are lovely, but they can’t hold a candle to the magnificent highlands we have now left behind us. But most of all I suppose it is the tour buses, and the roadside “tourist attractions” clearly aimed at those buses, that makes me wish we had chosen a different area for our last two days in Scotland.

Perhaps the gray and drizzly day has something to do with my reaction to this place. And yet how could we not come here, to the “bonnie, bonnie banks of Loch Lomond”, we who grew up singing about them. I remember my mother playing and singing that old Scottish song. It was written out in full on the wall of a place we stopped for lunch. I read the words of the second verse -- words I had never heard -- and discovered “Me and my true love will never meet again” because her true love was killed at Culloden. How many references in song and story there are to that one short battle that so defined Scotland.

Today I think we’ll head out to Inveraray in search of adventure or at least, lunch at the George Hotel.

The road to Inveraray was long and twisting and narrow, but well worth the trouble as it meandered through lovely hills and beside Loch Long and Loch Fyne. Rounding a corner we had our first view of Inveraray. It looked like a fairy tale village, all white and shimmering across the water. But just before we came to the village, there was a sign off to the right for Inveraray Castle. At major tourist sites we’ve learned to ask if there is closer parking for those, like me, who walk with a cane. I’m not wheelchair bound, but a long walk to a site means I haven’t the energy left to see the site.

Inverary Castle
There seems to be a policy throughout Scotland that people with difficulty walking are parked very close to the site. At Inveraray Castle, the gatekeeper refused even to charge admission. “It’s our policy” he said, “You won’t be able to see anything but the main floor.”  True, but the main floor was magnificent with its state dining room and tapestry chairs and Adam fireplace. The incredible room, however, was a center circle room that was open to the ceiling three stories above as an exhibit of Scottish arms over the centuries from the long poles with wide shaped axes on their ends (1600’s and earlier) to rifles used by Scottish regiments in the 20th century.
Inverary Castle Dining Room

The family, the Duke and Duchess of Argyll and their children, still lives in the castle which has been continuously in their family since the 1400’s. The duke is head of the Clan Campbell, worldwide. This was one of the most impressive of the castles was saw, perhaps because of its continuity.

For lunch we went to the George, built in the sixteen hundreds, and an Inn since 1860.

We arrived back at the Corries, tired and a bit down, realizing this was our last day of sightseeing. Tomorrow, I’ll try to put together my last thoughts on this country which was the home of at least some of my ancestors and all of Jeanette’s.

Watch for Blair's newest thriller, Fatal Charm 
Coming in 2017

A perilous scheme to thwart ruthless adversaries hurtles successful jewelry designer Caitlin Abernathy from her comfortable California studio to the streets of Paris and the beaches of Brittany as she attempts to return a priceless stolen heirloom to the Louvre.

Colin Stryker, the devastatingly handsome history professor from Ireland who has appointed himself her protector, fights to rescue her before her captors add murder to their crimes, while at the same time unraveling the torturous train of events that led to the original theft.

With every moment fraught with danger, can the chemistry already between the two ignite into passion?

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