After an overnight in Carlisle we set out for Scotland on Saturday morning, crossing the border by following the A7 Historic Route to Edinburgh. Shortly thereafter we stopped at a wayside to read a plaque and let the girls skip stones across a fast-flowing stream. We wound our way toward Edinburgh, watching sheep dogs work their flocks into shape and admiring the scenery. We only gave the city itself a few glances as we crossed the Forth Road Bridge over the Firth of Forth because we were headed to St. Andrews and, ultimately, a bed in Inverness that night.
I’d been to St. Andrews before, on a cold blustery day 30 years ago and had virtually had the town to myself. I had walked the 17th and 18th holes of the Old Course and visited the ruins of the old town’s castle and original cathedral. I had stood on a cliff overlooking the North Sea has the waves pounded the rocks below and the wind chapped my face before I returned to my senses and realized I had been standing there for 40 minutes, hypnotized. This day, however, was a “soft” day, sunny, cool and, of course, windy. The occasional shower blew over us as we parked at the Old Course and walked up the 18th hole, and then turned toward the castle and the sea to retrace the steps I had made so long ago, this time able to show the sights to my children.
We left St. Andrews at 6 p.m. and made for Inverness, climbing and turning through the Highlands where the low clouds coddled the tops of the hills and the rain came more steadily. Finally we descended into the valley to Inverness, the sky still light at 9 p.m., making the greens of the hills and the grays of the town appear even richer in the gloaming.
Over the next couple of days we would visit Loch Ness (where one canny Scot, a bagpiper, had positioned himself in full regalia at one of the most scenic overlooks to play his pipes and pose for pictures – and accept tips), Urquhart Castle, and enjoy the rugged beauty of Inverness before venturing south again to Stirling Castle, built by another Stewart – James V, for his queen, Mary Guise. Nice place.
Tiger Lilly gets fitted for chain mail (can you buy it at a chain store?).