August 8, 2013

The Scottish Highlands

After a week in Paris, our two days driving around Scotland's Inverness area proved a dramatic contrast. The Highlands are one of the most sparsely populated parts of Europe.

We headed north out of Edinburgh on a major highway. The views were lovely, but I began thinking it was much like Upstate NY, where I grew up. Soon we were driving along a beautiful lake, but I thought "It’s no prettier than Cayuga Lake or Lake George.”

Then we left the highways and drove the back roads on a recommended “discover undiscovered Scotland” route. The upstate NY rolling hills became more mountain-like (not the Himalayas or the Alps, but still impressive), the lakes (lochs) came one after another, and -- best of all and most unlike similar places in the U.S. -- there were very few cars, no crowds, and no commercialization.

The weather was cool and cloudy with intermittent rain, which seemed appropriate. Photos can’t capture the stark beauty of the Highlands.

Our B&B was in the middle of nowhere . . . actually, not far from Loch Ness. A husband/cook and wife/decorator-gardener have lovingly created a wonderful place to stay.

I especially enjoyed the huge garden and pond at the side of the house. I’ve prided myself on my small backyard pond and garden. Theirs was easily five times bigger and better.

And all around the rugged beauty of the Highlands:

We saw almost no one else, but we still made some friends. Here's a close encounter of a different kind. She thought the three of us in the car were strange animals in her private zoo. She stepped right up to take a closer look:

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