An Unusual Surprise

The last thing one would expect to see in Scotland (outside of a zoo) are Mandarin ducks. But Mandarin ducks we did see!

A couple months ago, we were walking through Milton Woods (near Farr), along the grassy bank above the River Nairn, when Mr. C spotted some unusual water fowl swimming below. Not sure what type of birds they were, he attempted to snap some photos. Unfortunately, they caught sight of him and were frightened and flew away. This photo was the best one he got.

It wasn’t until a bit later when I was looking through our photos that I realized what we had seen. How fantastic! Mandarin ducks! In Scotland!

According to BBC Scotland, the birds were introduced to the UK from the Far East in the mid-eighteenth century. Over time, some have managed to escape captivity and have bred and established colonies. There are over 7,000 Mandarin ducks in Britain but apparently very few have made it all the way to Scotland. Which makes what we saw even more special.

Mandarin ducks. In Scotland. Who knew?

A Silent Eloquence

One of my heart’s desires on our recent trip to Scotland was to find a bluebell wood. I worried that we might have been too late, but was absolutely delighted to find them still in bloom. These photos were taken in a wood next to Boleskine Burial Ground on Loch Ness.

It’s the little things.

A fine and subtle spirit dwells
In every little flower,
Each one its own sweet feeling breathes
With more or less of power.
There is a silent eloquence
In every wild bluebell,
That fills my softened heart with bliss
That words could never tell.

∼from “The Bluebell” by Anne Bronte

Finlarig Castle

At the western end of Loch Tay, roughly a half mile northeast of the village of Killin, Scotland, lies the precarious, overgrown, atmospheric, and seriously cool ruins of Finlarig Castle.

It is unlikely that you will find this one in your guide books, as Finlarig sits on private property. However, it’s definitely worth a stop if you happen to be in that neck of the woods. If you are a serious castle seeker, then I think Finlarig is worth going out of your way for.

Parking is available across from the cemetery, about a minute’s walk to the castle. When Mr. C and I were there a few years ago, we were approached by a local who requested we move our car to the lot rather than park directly at the site. I don’t think we were hurting anything, but alas, it is private property so it’s best to do as you are told.

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Italy Will Have to Wait

A couple of my friends are ardent travelers and as such, are a bit perplexed as to why Mr. C and I choose to keep returning to Scotland. “Don’t you want to go somewhere else? See someplace new?” I do understand their question. It’s a very big world after all, full of amazing and wonderful things. But my answer is generally always the same.

No.

Well yes. But not if it means that it takes Scotland off the table.

I really do want to visit other countries. In fact, it’s a dream of mine to see the other four Celtic nations and also Italy. But the truth is, I’m simply not done with Scotland yet. As much as Mr. C and I have seen and experienced, I feel like it’s just a drop in the proverbial bucket of all that the country has left for us.

When I fell for Scotland, I fell hard. So my philosophy is that as long as there are discoveries to be made, as long as it continues to make my heart sing, then I’ll just stick with what I know and truly love, please and thank you. Italy will just have to wait.

Scottish Highlands

Laggan Free Church

Like The White Bridge that I wrote about last week, today’s post features another amazing, serendipitous find.  Scotland certainly does seem to be full of those.

One afternoon a few weeks ago, Mr. C and I were driving through the southwest portion of the Cairngorms National Park near the village of Laggan. 

Threat of a storm rolling in.

We had just turned onto General Wade’s Military Road from the A86 when we spotted the fantastic ruins of an old church to our left.  Naturally, we pulled over to check it out.

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The White Bridge and General Wade’s Military Roads

I never thought I’d be the type to geek out over a bridge. Or old military transit roads. Good gracious. Who AM I?! Someone please send help.

While heading southwest one morning on the B862, Mr. C and I came upon this interesting bridge over the River Fechlin in the tiny community of Whitebridge, Scotland.

Intrigued, we parked our car and with cameras in hand, crossed the road to get a better look.

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Farr Farr Away

Well friends, another Scottish adventure has come to a close. I’m home.

It’s 4:45 in the morning as I begin to write this. My body, however, thinks it’s 9:45 and that Mr. C and I should be loading up the car for a day of exploration. With our tummy’s full of Scottish bacon, eggs, and coffee, we would have been all fueled up for a long day of hikes, history, and miles upon miles of some of the most breathtaking scenery on God’s earth.

Being home is bittersweet. I missed my dogs terribly and there is something to be said for getting back into the “regular” routine of things, I guess. But oh how my heart hurt when those airplane wheels began to roll.

That’s how it feels when you’re in love.

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Croft Moraig Stone Circle

Greetings to you on this fine Tuesday.  I hope your week got off to a great start.  I am currently outside on my deck, bundled up in the November chill – a fleece to warm my body and a cup of tea to warm my soul.  The autumn trees are lovely and I am happy.

Today I would like to take you up into the beautiful Scottish Highlands to a site located about four miles southwest of Aberfeldy, right off of A827.  Our destination occupies a portion of a farmer’s field, actually, so you may want to grab your wellies in case it’s muddy.  Ready?  Great, then let’s be off!

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Don’t fret that the site sits on private property.  Scotland’s laws allow individuals “freedom to roam”.  Just be respectful and be sure to close the gate so the farmer’s wee sheep don’t escape!

If I were to ask you about stone circles (those mysterious, prehistoric, man-made rock formations commonly found across Northern Europe and Great Britain), I’d wager that the image that would come to your mind would be Stonehenge.  It is one of Britain’s most iconic sites – and of course, the location of one of the Griswold Family’s hilarious misadventures.

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Who can forget the moment the affable Clark W. Griswold toppled one of the world’s most famous sites in the 1985 classic movie “National Lampoon’s European Vacation”.

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The Falls of Dochart

Hello friends.  What’s shakin’?  Not much around here this weekend.  I attempted to write this blog outside but good grief – the humidity!  I see it’s a balmy 65 degrees in Edinburgh right now.  What I wouldn’t give.

Today I’d like to show you a beautiful area in the Scottish Highlands that I visited on my last trip.  Located on the River Dochart at the pretty village of Killin in Stirlingshire, are the spectacular Falls of Dochart.

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