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West Highlands Scenic Drive

Posted by on 5 September, 2013

Our next destination was Kyle of Lochalsh. I have friends there and couldn’t wait to see them and their new darling little boy. The drive from Stirling west is absolutely stunning. Seriously, there are no words for the beauty of the landscape and smaller villages such as Balquidder and Glencoe. And don’t forget Glenshiel. Incredible.


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IMG_8295We left Stirling early so we’d have lots of time to stop along the way. The first must see was Balquidder and Rob Roy’s grave site. When my friend and I visited two years ago, a wedding was about to take place so we didn’t get a chance to stroll around. This time, the place was very quiet and so we explored to our heart’s content.

Oh my what a stunning little village. If I could buy a little cottage somewhere and write, this place would top the list. The couple of locals we met here were warm and friendly, much as I experienced everywhere else.

IMG_8314After a lovely stroll, we hopped back into the Mini and headed toward Glencoe. There’s a little cafe called the Glencoe Cafe that I highly recommend. The staff are friendly and the grub is awesome! Latte was deadly. We took a little walk through the village and found the Massacre Monument which honours the slain during the terrible massacre in Glencoe during the Jacobite Rebellion in 1692.

Eilean Donan Castle, Dornie

Eilean Donan Castle, Dornie

Our bellies bloated and our hearts full of beautiful scenery and heart-breaking history, we set off again. Though I had told my brother how amazing Glenshiel is, I knew there’s really no way to describe such a place. You must experience it for yourself. For me, driving down through that glen is one of my favourite vroom vroom moments along the route. The winding roads are a standard driver’s dream and our little Mini didn’t disappoint.

And what’s waiting for you at the end of Glenshiel? Eilean Donan castle. One of the most filmed castles in Scotland. Iconic is an understatement. The next morning Glenn and I did a tour and met ‘the real Highlander’, an extra in the movie of the same name which was filmed at Eilean Donan in the 80s. Lemme tell ya, Richard Campbell was so enthusiastic about the castle’s history I could have stayed there all day chatting with him. Since there are two rooms at Eilean Donan that are the inspiration for Bound to the Highlander, the banquet hall and one of the chambers, I appreciated his zest and his insight. If you visit Eilean Donan, tell Richard I said ‘Hi’. Hi Richard!!!

Yeah, inspiration is all around in the Highlands. Oh my. Not enough hours in the day for all the stories I could write from this incredible place.

2 Responses to West Highlands Scenic Drive

  1. Nina Mason

    Okay, big indulgence. But I’m just loving how you’re visiting the places I’ve been writing about in my books. Here’s the scene (nobody need read it if they don’t wish to) that takes place where you’re talking about. A Scottish friend from an old writer’s group helped with some of the more scenic details. Is it way too cheesy?

    It was now the next day and Graham was standing at the perimeter wall of Stirling Castle, gazing out at what the tour guide had described as “one of the finest views in Scotland.” The Asian-American tourist beside him evidently disagreed. Sweeping his arm dismissively across the most important landscape in Scottish history, the blovious yank said, “If you ask me, it’s highly overrated. I’ve seen way better back in L.A.”
    With a disgruntled snort, Graham returned his eyes to the vista. Just below, were the rough slate rooftops and smooth green fields of Stirling. To the northeast lay the arched river rock bridge over the River Forth—the spot where William Wallace divided and conquered the invading English army in 1297. To the south, he could just make out the green fields of Bannockburn, where Robert the Bruce broke the chains of English bondage back in 1314, ending the long and bloody Wars for Independence. He’d always felt a special affinity with Robert the Bruce—even more so than William Wallace, though he couldn’t say why.
    Just beyond lay the flat bank of hills that fortified Fife like a bulwark; to the southeast, the boggy carse through which the Bannockburn cut—the site where Robert the Bruce broke the chains of English bondage back in 1314–and to the northwest, the first purple hills of the Highlands.
    Clouds streaked the blue-gray sky that stretched over their rugged golden butte. The day, to his delight, was dry, though a wee bit too breezy to qualify as perfect. Still, it was excellent weather for sightseeing—a blessing given that it would be his only chance to show her around. After the tour, Cat had gone to browse for souvenirs while he ducked into the whisky shop–a cozy wee hole-in-the-wall whose tartan-festooned shelves offered an excellent selection of single malts. He’d sampled several before finally making his choice: Wallace Whisky Liqueur, a quirky blend of single malt, Scottish berries, and French herbs. He enjoyed a wee dram of the concoction now and again when he felt nostalgic, and it was hard to come by south of the border.
    Exiting the shop, taste buds still humming, he came to the wall, where they’d agreed to rendezvous when they’d finished their shopping. He’d sported his kilt at her request and a cold wind was now whipping around his bollocks. He moved his free hand around back to anchor the pleats. One good gust and those bloody yanks would get a view they’d not soon forget.
    He saw Cat now coming toward him across the courtyard. She was a vision even in her dungarees and bulky sweater. The trousers, though, he had to admit, hugged her arse in a way that made it challenging to keep his mind on history. Seeing she carried a bag, he wondered what she’d seen fit to purchase, hoping it wasn’t another of those books with a half-naked Highlander on the cover.
    “What have you got there?” he asked, gesturing toward the package.
    “A book.”
    He fought the grin that threatened to unfurl. “Oh, aye? What kind of book?”
    “A novelized biography. Of Robert the Bruce. By someone named Nigel Tranter.”
    “Oh, aye?”
    He let the grin bloom. As she came alongside him, he put his arm around her shoulder and turned toward the view. “D’ye see over yon–the first hill with all the trees? That’s called Abbey Craig. And the tower rising out of the crest—that’s the Wallace Monument.”
    “I had no idea all this meant so much to you,” she said, nestling against him.
    “Aye, well. It does.”
    As he bent to kiss her hair, drinking in her scent, a chill wind lifted the back of his kilt, unfolding the pleats like a fan. The hand gripping the bagged bottle shot around just in time to deprive any onlookers of an unadvertised attraction on the Stirling Castle tour: the sight of a Scotsman’s bare arse. Though, admittedly, it might answer an age-old question about kilts.
    “My heart’s in the Highlands, my heart is not here;
    My heart’s in the Highlands, a-chasing the deer;
    Chasing the wild deer, and following the roe;
    My heart’s in the Highlands, wherever I go.”
    Her unexpected recitation of Robert Burns both surprised and delighted him. Pulling her tighter against him, he nuzzled her hair, saying, “My heart’s wherever you are, lass. And always will be.”

    • katerobbins

      Not cheesy at all, maid. I think it’s a nice scene. Has some playfulness and lots of warmth between the two. Your scene descriptions are just the right amount to add to the story, IMHO. 🙂

      Cheers lady!

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