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Ardvreck Castle

 

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Ardvreck Castle on Loch Assynt, 2014

Ardvreck Castle in the Highlands of Scotland was the home of the MacLeods of Assynt.  The MacLeods were traditional Lairds of Assent and Sutherland.  The castle is a 15th-16th Century L-planned fortified tower house.  Battles came and went and the MacLeods of Ardvreck Castle was eventually overtaken by their bitter enemies the MacKenzies of Wester-Ross.  Lightning destroyed the bulk of the castle much later and the ruins sit majestically next to the A837.

Naturally, there are ghost stories – the favorite being this I read on British Express:  “Legends cling to the enigmatic ruins. It is said that the ghost of a MacLeod chieftain’s daughter wanders the beach, weeping. She married the Devil in an effort to save the castle from destruction, then she drowned in the loch. Another ghost, a mysterious man in grey, wanders about the castle ruins.”

Scotland is the perfect setting for ghost stories.  That, plus after touring the Highlands one gets the true sense of Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings for much of his inspiration was drawn from these mountains, lochs, brooding clouds and damp rains.  Scotland inspires.

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Ode to Scotland

 

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Scotland Saltire flying at Ullapool, Scotland, 2014

My feet are firmly planted in the USA and I love it here.  This is my home, my country.  However, I am unable to shake the profound, deep love that’s developed deep, deep within me for the beautiful country of Scotland since visiting in 2014.  Those ancient rocks and lochs, towering mountains and a thousand shades of green hugging a multitude of villages that house people I’m certain are ancestors.  They have to be.  I just feel it.  There is nothing like a malty Scottish ale from the tap, oh my the goodness.  Whiskey was never my thing until a tasting there and ever since a 14 year Oban is always in my cabinet for special times.

The photo above is Ullapool, Scotland.  Lying beside Loch Broom in the Northwest Highlands, Ullapool itself is said to be derived from the norse ‘Ulla-Bolstadr’ meaning ‘Ulla’s steading’.  The further north you go the more Norse connections you see.  Anchored by the fish and sea trade, Ullapool is one of the many fishing villages commissioned by the British Fisheries Society in the 1780’s to help create trade and grow Scotland.  Let’s just don’t talk about the clearances – makes me sad.

Whenever two contrails create a saltire in a blue sky I photograph it and send to my bestie, without whom I would never have gone.  She was chasing her roots; I was along for the ride simply to photograph a place I’d always wanted to visit.  I cannot wait to go back.  Haste ye back the airport sign said as I left, weeping.  I will, I will.

Isle of Mull

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Low Tide (C) 2014 by Debi Bradford

 

We took a ferry from Oban to Craignure, Isle of Mull.

It was another dreich day, meaning grey and rainy.

Dreich is pronounced “dreek.”

One of the first words we learned there and one we used often.

For often it was dreich.

Gloriously dreich!

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Moss and Seaweed (C) 2014 by Debi Bradford

We loaded onto the coach, which drove us all the way across the Isle of Mull to Fionnphort.

There we caught another ferry to the Isle of Iona.

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Rainy Day in Mull (C) 2014 by Debi Bradford

 

Our coach driver was on a tight timetable.  Ferry to ferry transfers – four in one day.

Additionally, portage of 26 souls through a very long route on Mull that is mostly one lane with pass-bys for oncoming traffic.

If I saw a coach coming off in the distance I would let it pass by, too.

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Farming Scotland Style (C) 2014 by Debi Bradford

We passed mountains and glens, lochs with lobster/fish/oyster farming.

I was glad my skills had been honed in Death Valley doing through-the-window shots.

I did this a lot in Scotland.

If I may be frank, they’re my favorite images because they remind me of the beautiful countryside.

I can FEEL Scotland with each viewing.

Remember the feeling, the happiness, the warmth despite the dreich.

Or maybe because of it.