Morning brought noise in an otherwise quiet place – Tyedrum at the southern end of Glencoe.
Did I say Glencoe valley, or glen or whatever it is, was a wild and remote place in the extreme. I didn’t think there would be anywhere on this crowded island where there was no sign of habitation or, for that matter, potential for habitation. But we drove for miles and miles through beautiful rugged country until we began to wonder if we would ever get to civilisation again, or find somewhere to stay for the night.
The colours! Shades of brown and yellow and green with heather on the hills. Grey shale in slabs and lumps, with water glistening en route down the sides of the sort of majestic mountains that make you want to sing highland songs. On and on and on with the road a tiny ribbon winding along close to the bottom of the valley.
Tyedrum loomed and an ancient hotel run by dour women in the best Scots tradition – I won’t be putting it on tripadviser, but the company in the bar was good. And faithful to the forecast, the fine weather of Saturday turned into gale-force winds and driving rain on Sunday. We woke to the roaring of the wind and the rattling of horizontal rain. We were glad to experience this side of Scotland! Especially as we left ………………………..
A couple of inches on the map doesn’t add up to many miles, but the miles are slow. The roads and driving are idiosyncratic to say the least – our traffic cops in Aus would have a field day. The roads are small and wiggly, with hedges on either side. As there are very few verges, people just pull up …. on either side of the road whichever direction they are going. The traffic just waits, then goes around them. Everyone seems incredibly patient and reasonable and the situation suits me just fine. I’m the driver.
Our destination was Greenlaw to report in to Phip and Tim before we leave Scotland…..quite a long drive. Our via was Rosslyn Chapel at Roslin, on the edge of Edinburgh. My mapreader, who has been seriously derelict in his duties to the point sometimes of near-murder, with some ‘encouragement’ from me today at last learned to plan and to watch the map, and to pre-empt our next turn instead of saying “oh, we should have taken that one” or worse still “I think we should have taken that one, but I’m not sure”. In short, after another bumbling start and more loud muttering about how much better it would have been had we invested in a GPS, we got everywhere we wanted to get and it wasn’t simple.
So hats off to Bas.
Rosslyn Chapel is tucked away in a hidden spot. I visited 38 years ago when it was not famous, with Chris McConnel whose family also cherishes the name & heritage of St Clair, and his mates Rick Evans and Rodney Bell. It’s a different kettle of fish now that its value has been recognised and steps taken to salvage and present it in the best possible way.
It’s out of this world. Surreal. And filled with mystery and unresolved riddles. The guide was excellent, and the adjacent displays lively and interesting and explanatory. Hats off to the Rosslyn Trust as well. It was a wonderful experience for us to visit.
And back at the semi-subsistence lifestyle of the Culhams in Greenlaw, we had chores – letting out the chooks & ducks, collecting the eggs – and it felt like coming home. Topping off the day and the Scotch (as my grandmother would say) experience were a brace of grouse and a breast of pheasant for supper. We may not have ‘done’ Scotland fully but we’ve made some serious inroads!