Friday, February 5, 2016

Loch Ness and the Highlands

You can't go to Scotland and not go to Loch Ness or at least the Highlands. That's exactly what I did, and let me tell you, I highly recommend it. Even in winter, when the snow covers the beautiful mountains. I went on a guided tour, which started very early, since Loch Ness is quite far away, almost 4 hours away. We drove North, along Loch Lomond before stopping quickly at Drovers Inn, a cute little hotel for the sheep and cattle herders who had to bring their animals form the Highlands to the lowlands by foot.

We headed up the mountains to a very famous valley (or glen), called Glencoe. It's famous because of the massacre that took place there.
Back when the Highlanders still used the clans system, there was a change in kings but the Highland clans were still loyal to the old king... So the new king, William, made all the clans sign an oath. The MacDonalds, who lived in Glencoe, had the intention to sign it, but ended up signing it 6 days late. They thought they were safe, as they had signed it anyway. About a year later, a group of around 100 soldiers came to the clan and the MacDonalds welcomed them with open arms, not knowing what their intentions were. The Highlanders had a reputation for a very warm welcome and usually trusted the people who visited. They gave the soldiers shelter, food and warm beds. The soldiers, on order of King William, killed all the MacDonalds, starting with the chief in the middle of the night, then everyone else, including the women and children. They executed about 45 clan members, and the rest who fled into the mountains died of exposure.
It was a terrible tragedy and they say the glen is haunted. Where there used to be 200 people living, now there is only two. There's even a little fall named "the Tears of the MacDonalds" and many songs written about the massacre of Glencoe.
Tears of the MacDonalds
After that, we headed up through the Great Glen, which houses three huge lochs (lakes), the last and biggest one being Loch Ness. It's over 22 miles long and over 750 feet deep! Lots of room for a monster to hide!

Speaking of which, here are my three favourite theories of what/who Nessie could be:
1-An ancient creature was trapped in Loch Ness when the lake was formed during the melt of the last Ice Age.
2-There was a circus that travelled around in the Great Glen and they have a performing elephant that they would bring to the Loch to cool off during the summer, and you can see his trunk in the water.
3-There are a ton that scientists don't know about what lives in the Loch because it's so deep and so dark, so it's possible that Nessie is a giant type of eel that just grew the monstrous proportions. There have been recordings of eels in the loch already, so it could make sense.

(Personally, I love the elephant theory!)
There is so much history there... a world-record breaking attempt that ended in tragedy, a bomber jet found in perfect condition after over 30 years in the water... It seems to be a loch of oddities and maybe even magic.

I took a boat cruise over the lake, which brought us to Urquhart Castle ruins, built in the 1300s. The water was absolutely still, though the air was a little crispy. There was actually a radar on the boat, with cruise so you could see how deep the water is underneath us and if there is any life (there were quite a few fish icons the entire way, but no Nessie).

Don't forget to take your tourist picture with Nessie!

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