'98 Chronicles
Part Four
In Search of Lochdubh

At the bottom of the hill he stopped, lowered his window, and leaned out.  The air smelled of briar and bracken and damp earth, with a resinous hint of the distant pine forests.  Over the rumble of the motor came the faint sound of rushing water.  He eased the car into gear, all sense of fatigue forgotten.

The grandeur of the prospect that was suddenly revealed as he rounded the final turn, although long anticipated, never failed to startle him.  The strath was submerged now in bluish purple shadows, but the broad sweep of the river, seeming somehow to absorb and amplify the fading light, shone with a faintly luminous quality. ... Taking it all in, Powell realized just how much he had been longing for this moment and, for the first time in a very long while, was content.

         Graham Thomas, Malice in the Highlands

Into the Highlands Opening Night
Into the Highlands

Dochart: arched bridgeThe trip into the Highlands can't be described except with the photos.  I'm at a loss to tell you what it was like to see each vista more beautiful than the last.  It became mind-numbing, more than I could absorb.

Falls w/teal poolWe stopped several places.  Brian is on a mission to annotate the locations of major Scottish movies, such as Braveheart and Rob Roy, as well as the locations in Hamish Macbeth, so I got a chance to make many stops in beautiful places.

Dochart: moss/ferns/waterOne of the most beautiful spots was the Falls of Dochart.1st Sight Highland Cattle  Nearby, I saw the red Highland cattle for the very first time.

Photos of the Falls of Dochart

Buachaille Etive MorFurther on, we stopped in the Rannoch Moors below Buachaille Etive Mor (""The Great Shepherd of Etive") in the Glen Coe region.

Eilean Donan CastleAt last we neared Plockton, and could see Eilean Donan Castle, and the sea lochs.  One of my great sadnesses is that I didn't get a chance to really explore Eilean Donan -- the only opportunity that arose would have been nearly an all-day affair, and at that point I was too battered to have survived such a long jaunt.  But at least I got a glimpse of it.

Photos of Buchaille Etive Mor and Eilean Donan
Opening Night

It ended up quite a long journey, 8 hours, so I wasn't able to do much the first night.  I settled for getting grounded in my new quarters at the luxurious and beautifully situated Plockton Hotel, catching up with my medications, then having a late dinner at our hotel with our co-seekers.

Cottage from the waterEven in the waning light I could see how lovely the cottage is.  It's directly on the water, a few cottages down from the main hotel.  My own room, at the top, has a private garden with stone steps leading up to a table and chairs.  It's amazing, even weird, how many flowers there are at this time of year -- hydrangea, clematis, roses, lobelia, montbretia.view from my cottage  The climate appears to be much like Pacifica, which is to say, horticulturally bizarre.  My garden is full of ripe brambleberries, and I enjoyed quite a few.  Our cottage has a kitchen stocked with every sort of tea and coffee, fancy bottled waters, and packets of shortbread cookies, as are the individual rooms.  There are heated towel racks and the beds have built in back massagers.  Definitely a step up in the world.

Photos of Plockton Hotel and of my enchanted cottage and its garden

So, for the first time in 5-6 days, I actually unpacked, then went to meet my cohorts.

And what a great group they turned out to be.  It was a perfect mix, and being together was priceless for me.  In addition to Brian from Perth, there were Barb from Oxford, Debs & Archie from "somewhere in or about London", Philip from Leeds, and Donna & Tom from Wisconsin.  We had fun together from the very first night.

Lehua's photos of the Hamish Clan

Later that night there was a Highlands wedding with old fashioned ceilidh in the town hall.  I couldn't go, due to being flat-out exhausted, and was very jealous to hear in the morning that the Fling band, which played in some episodes of Hamish, had performed, and people had danced Highlands dances till the wee hours of the morning.

But I did take a moment to stand out at the water and listen to the tide lapping against the wall outside my cottage, hear the palmettos rustling in the wind, and look at the lights on the harbour.  The sense of relaxation and happiness was actually physical.  At last, I was here.

That night I slept deep and sweet.


Chronicles, Part Five