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Scotland is a fascinating and mysterious place with a dramatic history that goes back to pre-history (duh, we've all seen Braveheart!). This was my third time in the country, and I have to say that I like the people, places, scenery, culture and food (ok, maybe not the food) more and more every time I'm there. On our first trip, which only included stops in Edinburgh and Glasgow, I'll admit I was not so impressed. I found the people mildly abrasive, the food terrible, and of course the weather was awful. But last year we spent more time in the cultural epicenter of Edinburgh as well as in smaller towns on the Northeast coast, and I fell in love. Might have helped that we had better weather that year :)  Then this year we finally made it to the Highlands and the Northwest coast- where everyone always says the most spectacular scenery in Scotland is. I agree. Josh played in Glasgow and then 3 shows in the Highlands, as far north as Ullapool, after which we drove South along the coast back to Glasgow.

Considering this is the furthest north that I've ever been (Ullapool is on the same latitude as southern Alaska), I was expecting extreme cold and short days. However, we were pleasantly surprised that our first 2 days in the Highlands were enjoyed in the sun, wearing just light jackets. Apparently, the gulf stream keeps this small corner of Scotland relatively mild year round. . . In fact, Ullapool is known for having a few palm trees! Of course, this is still Britain, and our good luck ran out by the 3rd day when big gray rainclouds and dense fog rolled in. It was still lovely, though.
near Gairloch

One thing you notice about this part of Scotland is that there is water everywhere. Of course there's miles and miles of rocky coastline, dotted with several hundred little islands (unfortunately this time we didn't get to visit any islands) as well as small waterfalls just about everywhere you look. And then there are the lochs (lakes to us non-Scots). . . on our drive back to Glasgow we followed Loch Lomond and the famous Loch Ness (no Nessie spottings), and dozens of other smaller bodies of water. Multi-colored mountains and crags of varying sizes rise straight out of the lochs, usually with low-hanging clouds clinging to them and highland sheep grazing near the base.
Loch Ness
day 1 in the Highlands (Gairloch)
Modern day Scotland is as interesting as it's ever been. Next year they will vote on a referendum to separate from the United Kingdom, which they've been a part of for over 300 years. Despite the fact that the Scots and the English share the same small landmass and technically are ruled by the same government, they are vastly different in many ways. And it seems that after a centuries-old tumultuous relationship with England, the current economic and political situation has caused Scotland to finally break away once and for all. But who knows if the referendum will actually pass? As an outsider who knows very little about the situation, I was skeptical that Scotland could afford to detach, but after talking to a local Glaswegian promoter I am convinced otherwise. Apparently he and most of his friends adamantly support independence because they see England's economy slipping and don't want to be pulled down with it. Also, Scotland has already been pretty independent for years. According to wikipedia: Scotland's legal system has remained separate from those of England and Wales and Northern Ireland, and Scotland constitutes a distinct jurisdiction in public and private law. Interesting...
So in the last week we've driven the entire length of the UK. . . from Ullapool down to Arundel, West Sussex where we are now. And, believe it or not, we'll be heading back up to Scotland next week! With just a handful of UK shows left, we'll be on the East coast of Scotland (Dundee and Carnoustie, just north of Edinburgh) by Nov. 9th, just before flying to the Netherlands.


Check out more UK photos on Flickr!

1 comment:

  1. Wow, thanks for the report on a very interesting local. The pictures are fantastic, wish I was there with ya'll.