Sunday, July 31, 2016


Western Scotland struck us as wild and primitive.  You could tell you were in a different country by the signs in both English and Gaelic.  We never could pronounce the Gaelic names without help.  There is even a Gaelic TV channel.  We survived the cooler weather without having to purchase any wool and the rain was mostly mist.

Our first stop was in Oben on the coast.  We gobbled fresh scallops on the dock, watching the ferries come and go.  Our hotel, Ardanaiseig, on Loch Awe, was isolated and the exterior reminded us of a haunted house.  It had beautiful rooms and landscaping.

We rode the cable car up the Nevis Range with the mountain bikers, next to Ben Nevis, the highest peak in Great Britain.  Nearby, we climbed through rocky Nevis Gorge to Steall Falls.  The Clachaig Inn in Glen Coe was the perfect place for hungry hikers to fill up on steak and ale pie.

The Isle of Skye was even more dramatic.  A fellow traveler called the land “savage”.  We drove up the Trotternish Peninsula where the high hills drop suddenly into the sea and the landmarks have interesting names - the Old Man of Storr, Kilt Rock, and the Quirang.

We also visited Neist Point lighthouse, the westernmost part of the Island.  It rained and was foggy all the way there but the sun came out as we parked.  The rain resumed about an hour later as we hiked back to the car.  

Dunvegan Castle is the oldest continuously inhabited castle in Scotland, and is still the home of the MacLeods whose motto is “Hold Fast”. 

 We stayed at Kinloch Lodge which has a restaurant with a well-deserved Michelin star.

Driving toward Edinburgh the landscape changed to rolling hills and cultivated fields - a lot like the Cotswolds.  We loved the city: Edinburgh Castle, Arthur’s Seat, the National Museum of Sotland, and Grassmarket.  We missed the Tattoo by a week and so will have to return again to experience it and so many other sites that we didn’t have time for.

This has been one of our most memorable trips.  The temple opens again on Tuesday.

Saturday, July 30, 2016

Northern England, July 22

Our lodging, Losehill House, Peak District

We never imagined that our second week in England could be better than our first.  Monday we hiked the Edge at Stanage in the Peak District and saw our first moor.  We toured the gardens at Chatsworth House (Mr. Darcy's Pemberly) and were as impressed as Miss Bennett.   On our way to the Lake District we stopped in Old Langho and found the chapel where many of Tom's Proctor ancestors were christened. 

The Edge at Stanage

Chatsworth House, Mr. Darcy's Pemberly

Part of the original greenhouse

"Kitchen garden" with table and chair

Old Langho,St. Leonard's Church, 1557 

Tuesday we celebrated the hottest day of the year in Great Britain.  After an early morning hike along a mountain beck, and around a tarn (look them up), we visited the home of Beatrix Potter. Her forward thinking and actions about the environment are even more impressive today and the land she donated to the care of the National Trust made our walk possible. 


Typical of the ever present rock walls

Beatrix Potter's writing desk

Sue with Mr. MacGregor in his garden

It was interesting to visit Wordsworth's home and museum.  Sue liked this statement of his (from the guide): "A man in simple clothes can think deep thoughts".  We could understand his love of nature as we looked out on the lakes and hills.  We finished the day with a boat ride on Lake Windermere to Bowness and back.

Dove Cottage, Wordsworth's first 3 children born here

Our next stop was in charming, historic York, at Grays Court, within and next to the old city wall.  It is possibly the oldest continuously lived-in house in the UK, dating from 1080.  Constantine was first crowned emperor in York in 306 AD.  We walked on the wall, rambled through the "shambles", stumbled upon a great youth orchestra playing Hayden in the street, visited the museum, and ate great pudding at the York Roast Co. before finishing the late afternoon with scones and rose lemonade in the hotel garden.  The Fringe Festival was on and we caught a magic show in a tent to end the day.  

Grays Court and garden from the medieval city wall, with the Minster behind

Grays Court  lobby

The shambles

We did walk about in the Minster (church) the next morning before leaving York for a rendezvous at Rievaulx Abbey ruins with the Beevers, who we knew in Jacksonville before they moved to England, married, and produced two delightful children.

The Minster

Rievaulx Abbey ruins

On our way north we stopped in Croft and visited the site of the airfield where Tom's dad served as a flight control officer with the RCAF in WWII.  The manager of the racing circuit now in that location kindly gave us a tour of the grounds.  There are parts of the 3 runways still present and a replica of the old control tower, along with a few other original artifacts.  It reminded us of Grandpa Fred's story about being strafed in the control tower one night by the Luftwaffe.  The day ended in Blanchland at our favorite hotel, the Lord Crewe Arms.  It is another millennium-old structure built as the abbot's priory.  We played croquet and quoits in the garden while waiting for dinner by an outstanding chef. 

Replica of the control tower

The dovecote

Roasting the chickens for dinner

We visited Hadrian's wall the next day at Housesteads Fort and museum.  It was very expensive to keep the Scots out for 300 years or so, but it was probably worth the temporary stability that it provided.  By the end, the Roman Empire was collapsing and the Scots were the least of their concerns.  

Sr. Humphrey Davy, in a lecture to the Royal Society in 1825: "The more we know, the more we feel our ignorance; the more we feel how much remains unknown...There are always new worlds to conquer."