Speed, bonnie boat, like a bird on the wing,
Onward! the sailors cry;
Carry the lad that’s born to be King
Over the sea to Skye! ——– Skye Boat Song
Scotland has been an enigmatic country all along and it has always somehow carved out a space in my mind ever since I set foot on the land. It has been the land of the wild mountains and the indomitable human spirit of freedom. On the very next day, when we left the stone walled city of Edinburgh (you can read my earlier post: Edinburgh – A Scottish Delight), we came across vistas of Scottish midlands, with rolling and undulating blanket of greens. The coach rushing across the formidable horizons, our minds started racing with the bagpipes and the tune of the brave soldiers who had laid down their lives for the love of the land. The Scottish tunes will never fail to move you and maybe at some point of time, will make you reminisce. If you love blues, you are bound to love the freedom song and the Skye boat song, who’s every word, speaks about the undying spirit and freedom.
Surprisingly, despite being only 8% of the United Kingdom’s population, the Scott’s and have been able to maintain and hold on their strong sense of identity and nationalism. This I believe has developed through the years of rebellions, of so many lives laid down, Scotland’s bitter history shared with the British for over 300 years and still running.
As we drove across Scotland’s interlocking mountainous terrain, we came to hear about the heroics of the land’s greatest ever Scott – Bonnie Prince Charlie, the man who is said to have inspired thousands of his fellow countrymen to fight and stand up against the atrocities of the Englishmen. The momentous story where Prince Charlie had almost taken over the throne of England is awe-inspiring. If he was not misguided on the final frontier by English spies, who had already sneaked into his army, today’s history would have been completely different. Then we talked about the war faring highlanders, their meticulous hospitality and the Scottish monarchy, which almost threatened to rule over the entire British Isles, once upon a time. When James the Fourth of Scotland became James the first of England, and as he ruled over both the countries and the legend of the red lion, which he made a mandatory symbols for all English common houses is fascinating. The innumerable stories of the MacDonald, MacLeod’s and the MacDougall’s clans took up the majority of the time. All they speak of – are the stories of massacres that have ravaged the land through ages, the carnage of Glen Coe and Ben Nevis, the 1745 Jacobite rebellions. These narratives continued to elude us as we drove across winding roads, watching the misty mountain layers and the one off waterfalls streaming down faraway.
As we moved away from the stories of wars and rebellions, to faeries and monsters, we gradually saw the landscape change – becoming steeper and intriguingly beautiful. Passing by the famous Loch Ness (I would always the remember the short swim-cum-dip in the almost freezing waters of the Loch Ness and then running for the sip of the whiskey.) the awesome terrain of the Ben Nevis and the quaint little town of Inverness. We were finally at the tip of the British Isles overlooking a majestic castle and the Isle of Skye.
Hootananny’s Inverness, Scotland. Yes, that’s the destination folks. A pub, of pure joy and Scottish ales. The night that we stayed into the quaint town of Inverness, we decided to pop into this most recommended hideout. Before we even stepped in side we were greeted with a happy tune of Scottish blues, violins playigns, guitars strumming, flutes piping and mouth organs humming. The guys sat in one circle, with a beer to keep them chugging along, playing as if there’s no tomorrow. The crowd clapping and cheering along with occasional
The Hogwarts Express.. Oh! Being an avid Harry Potter fan – the sheer joy of it! I had never imagined I would actually get to see this train chugging along like the way J.K Rowling wrote it. The wonderful sight of the train slowly emerging out of the thick white smoke amidst the dense forestry regions. I had literally splashed both my shoes in the muddy waters, just to go to the top of the ‘hill’ and get a great view of this.
By that time, it has started raining, we had watched and fed the ‘Hairy Coos’ . (Yes, that’s what the Scottish call their mountain cows, fascinating name for a domesticated animal), walked across, beautiful river sides, traversed many a mile along the beautiful Ben Nevis – Scotland’s highest peaks and town of around 10,000 people, the Glenfinian, the location of the Hogwarts School – the school of magic in which Harry Potter studied. Then came the land of the faeries – yep, you read that right. Faerie Glen. A truly magical land where you have small rounded hill tops with so much of greenery – and red berries popping out from between – that at times it would feel unnaturally made. It is said that when humans go into the faerie land, they are not supposed to disturb or annoy the faeries, like, talking, putting their hands in their pockets and wearing green. There were stories, where the faeries have cast spells on humans making their lives miserable.
This country is beautiful in its own terms. we might not have seen the highest peaks of the world, neither the deepest gorge of Europe, and nor longest river of the planet, but everything that we had seen has created a distinct aura around it, with it stories, beliefs, folklore and age old traditions, that it seems like they are all alive and living within every Scott breathing that air.
The passion and spirit of this country’s people made me awestruck. And I definitely blessed to have been able feel some part of it, merely because our country, has gone through a very similar path in terms of history and folklore. It was a wonderful to be part of the Scottish Experience.
“O Flower of Scotland,
When will we see
Your like again,
That fought and died for,
Your wee bit Hill and Glen,
And stood against him,
Proud Edward’s Army,
And sent him homeward,
Tae think again.”
– Scotland’s National Anthem
This post was written in association with Indiblogger and Tata Safari for the “I am Explorer!” Contest.