Wednesday 9th May 2001
Caught the ferry back to Uig and then back to Kyleakin and waited at the hostel for about an hour and chatted a bit more with Karolina. She and her friends were also travelling back to Edinburgh on the MacBackpackers bus. From Kyleakin we caught the small ferry to Kyle "the way it was supposed to be done" and connected with MacB's bus. Louise and Freeman from Canada also rejoined the group. Already on the bus were 3 American (US) guys (one of whom was called Kutter), two very loud Sydney girls (Emma & Jess), and two Israeli girls.
Our guides for this part of the Tour were a weejee (Glaswegian) called Mark (how do you make a ouija board? Take away his ciggies and dole money) and Mack a trainee tour guide who was wearing MacKenzie trews rather than a kilt.
First stop was Eilean Donan Castle. It's trading a little off the fact it was used in the opening scenes of Highlander as Connor MacLeod's home. The interior had been redone since most of it was blown up during the Civil Wars. Very nicely done though. The restoration has tried to blend as closely as possible with the original structure. There's even a reproduction of the old kitchen complete with mannequins of staff and plastic food.
We stopped near Loch Garry which, when viewed from this point looked like a map of Scotland: "Proof that God was a Scot" according to Mark. Also told us a joke about when God was making Scotland and putting all the final details in, the archangel Gabriel said to God that he thought he was being rather too generous in what he was putting into Scotland. God replied, "True but you haven't seen their neighbours yet!" We also passed near Ben Nevis which apparently has a rather active snowboarding group.
On toward Glencoe. We reached the pass about mid afternoon and headed up the hills away from the sight of the road. Here Mark proceeded to relate the story of the massacre of the MacDonald clan by members of the Campbell clan. The trigger was that the MacDonalds were still loyal to King James VII (II) and had not sworn loyalty to King William of Orange (as the Campbells had). The result was after spending 12 days as guests of the MacDonalds, Captain Robert Campbell of Glenlyon carried out his orders: "You are hereby ordered to fall upon the rebels, the McDonalds of Glencoe, and put all to the sword under seventy." Some of the MacDonalds managed to escape (or where let go by soldiers whose conscience won) and brought news of the event to the rest of the country. Public outcry was such that it was suggested that if James returned with an army to England he may well win back his crown. To this day the name of Campbell still bares a stigma.
Arrived at the Oban Hostel and wanted to go out for a drink. I said I needed a shower before I went anywhere, as did the two Sydney girls. Obviously they had been lucky before as Emma was rather surprised when she found out the showers were same-sex facilities. I told them that they had to behave themselves! Had a great night out and an even better night's sleep as none of the guys in the room snored!
Thursday 10th May 2001
Off again for the final leg back to Edinburgh. Stopped off at St Conan's Kirk, a church that had been made by taking pieces from other ruined churches and assembling them into a complete building. There are some pretty differing styles of architecture here.
Down to Invarary for a visit to Loch Fyne Whiskies. The biggest selection of Whisky I have ever seen! They even had one limited addition bottle for £10,000!!! (that's pounds not dollars). From there we called at Balquhidder for a brief visit to Rob Roy's Grave. Passing Kilchurn Castle we stopped for lunch at the Drover's Inn. Bizarre building with lots of stuffed animals everywhere, many of them falling apart. On to Stirling and Bannockburn passing by Duone Castle (another that was used in Monty Python and the Holy Grail. While the stories of Bannockburn have a more powerful impact on me than many others, the development of the area surrounding the site detracts from the visualisation of the scene. Certainly I think that was one of the reasons I found Culloden to have more of an impact on me.
Robert Bruce's statue
I found it interesting that at the foot of the Wallace Monument at Stirling their now stands a statue that looks remarkably Gibsonish. Due to vandalism it now has a cage that encloses the statue when the Visitor Centre closes for the evening. Rather ironic I thought.
Anyway we finally arrived back in Edinburgh that evening and I rechecked into the High Street Hostel. On the way in we passed the School of the Deaf. Apparantly this building had been earmarked by Hilter to be his Scottish HQ once the invasion of Britain had been completed
Went off to Frankenstein's Pub (I'm sure you can guess the theme) with some of the guys from the tour and from there headed off to a club called Gaia.