First of all, shout out to our wonderful bosses who stress to us how important it is to balance work and home life! They are the reason for our weekend getaway to the mountains!
After hanging around our cabin rental, we were ready for a mild adventure. Nothing super crazy like climbing Table Rock or bagging a Munro in Scotland mind you, this weekend was supposed to be relaxing after all. The nearby DuPont State Forest offered plentiful options to choose from.
On our final full day in Scotland, we left Waverly on a morning train. We figured out how the kiosk worked to pick up our online reservation, stashed our luggage and away we went. The train between Edinburgh and Inverness is a lovely way to be introduced to Scotland, as we were 10 days ago going south, and a thoughtful trip on the return to reminisce all the way north. The views from the train and within the train left us with new thoughts about Scotland. Particularly intriguing were the retired school teachers on holiday. They were much warmer and talkative than the gentlemen that we sat beside on our way south.
Documentaries, pictures and film simply cannot capture the magnificence that is Edinburgh, and I know I can’t either. Many have captured Edinburgh by pen, far more famous and more eloquent I could hope to be. I’ve actually started and stopped this post many times, stretched out from October to January. My inability to give you a small glimmer of insight in to our time spent in this wonderful city made me quit writing all together for the past few months. I have decided to try again and post whatever result I am left with.
Memory is a funny thing. Sometimes you can’t remember a thought that popped into your head 5 minutes, but you can remember the first time Braveheart came on TV and you actually were allowed to watch (most of) it. I remember thinking how beautiful the scene was where Wallace courts Murron. They ride through a glen and up a mountain and end looking out over a loch. I wanted to go there.
With 15 glorious hours of daylight comes great responsibility. We decided to squeeze every drop we could out of most of our days in Scotland. Day 8 1/2 into the beginning of 9 was no exception! We left Blair Castle as the Highland Games were drawing to a close. To the sound of bagpipes on the wind, we left behind more than just our footprints in that damp grassy field in front of the castle, we left pieces of our hearts too.
In a small town near by our current hometown, there is a Tartan Festival that I won tickets to one year. It launched Ben into a genealogical search of his Scottish side of the family. He traced his paternal lineage all the way back to the 900’s. His family had ties to Clan Murray from then on to at least the 1740’s. The Murray’s have held the dukedom of Atholl for centuries and with it, Blair Castle.
Every Maybank Holiday weekend, they put on a history presentation, a parade and highland games celebrating the Atholl Highlanders, the Duke of Atholl’s private army (these days ceremonial). It kicks off the season of Highland Games and piping competitions in Scotland. Our conversation upon discovering this fact went something like this…
Our bodies protested going down to breakfast, despite how delicious we knew the “full Scottish breakfast” awaiting us would be. We were quite sore and our thigh muscles didn’t seem to be very willing to allow our knees to bend. We pressed on and just used bagging a Munro as our excuse for appearing as though we aged fifty years in one day. Today was one of the few things Ben actually added to the plans of our trip.
Today we searched for a mountain. To be more exact, we searched for a specific part of the path near the Am Bodach peak on the Aonach Eagach ridge. This was one of our first views of Scotland growing up. It was home to the scene in Braveheart where Mel Gibson runs across the mountain and looks all around him. Ambitious, we knew, but others had done it, so we wanted to try.