ScotlandFrom the 14th to the 21st of June, I travelled around Scotland. I first went to Inverness and 'made camp' there for the night. Inverness was a very lovely little town, the kind of place where I thought I could live. I also stayed in what became one of my favorite hostels (Eastgate Backpackers, if anyone's interested). The next morning I went out to Culloden Battlefield, to see where the Jacobites and Bonnie Prince Charlie were defeated in 1746, in the last battle to be fought on British soil (so far).
After Culloden, I hopped on a bus to Ullapool and then took the ferry to Stornoway, in the Outer Hebrides. Stornoway is the capital of the Outer Hebrides, and it's a 'big' port on the Isle of Lewis. The main part of town is rather blah, but when I walked out into the residential areas a bit more, I found it quite lovely. While there I also travelled across the island to see the Callanish Standing Stones, which were quite fascinating. After that I tried to take the bus up to the northern tip of the island to see the lighthouse at the Butt of Lewis, but I missed a connecting bus and ended up having to hitch-hike the 14 miles to the lighthouse. The first man who picked me up was a local, and he took me about halfway to where I was going, chatting amiably the whole way. (He had a great Hebridean accent, which is quite unique, and it was fun to listen to him talk.) After he let me out, I then found a nice little family from Wigan who took me the rest of the way to the lighthouse. There were a husband and wife, Terry and Irene, along with Irene's Aunt Irene and their dog Marcus. They were there on holiday, and they happened to be going to the lighthouse, so they took me there with them. In fact, when we arrived there, they offered to take me back to Stornoway. They were a very sweet family, quintessentially English, and I was very glad to have met them.
After a few days in the Outer Hebrides, I then went down to stay a few days in a little village a few miles from Loch Ness. I had to wait two hours in Inverness for a connecting bus, and while I was there, I ran into the missionaries, so I stopped and asked them if there was a ward in Inverness, where and when they met, and promised to do my best to make it there on Sunday. When I got to the hostel in Lewiston, there were lots of people there, all of whom seemed to know each other. I met a girl named Scout from Austin, Texas, who had been backpacking around the UK by herself for the last month or so. We walked down the road to see Urquhart Castle together, and I had a really nice time chatting with her. The castle (which has been in ruins since 1691) is closed at night, so we climbed a fence to get to it (only after having been assured by the lady at the hostel that no one would care). In fact, when we got down to the castle, we found half a dozen others there. We had a fun time exploring the ruins in the semi-darkness, having set out from the hostel around 11:00 pm. When we got back to the hostel at 1:00 am, there was still visible daylight in the west. That's one of the cool things about Scotland, how little darkness there is in the summer. In fact, that's one of the reasons I waited so long to go to Scotland -- I had thought about going in November last year, but decided I couldn't cope with the darkness for practically the whole day. There was very little to do in Lewiston or Drumnadrochit, unless you wanted to pay exorbitant fees, which I didn't, so I spent most of the day on some walks around the area. In the morning I walked through a wetland forest to get to the edge of Loch Ness, and when I got there I found a film crew just taking down their equipment. I got chatting with them and learned that they were filming a program for the National Geographic Channel about the science of the loch. Gotta watch out for that one in the future. (They said it was supposed to air in the States in about 3-4 months.)
The next day was Sunday, and so I first went to church in Inverness. The ward there was very small, but I found them very friendly. In fact, they were so friendly that they asked me to bear my testimony as the first speaker in Sacrament Meeting. (!) I told them I would, even though I felt very self-conscious and out of place in my courderoy pants and Lancaster University hoodie. I left church about 15 minutes early to catch my train to Edinburgh, where I spent the last two days of my trip. When I first got there on Sunday afternoon and checked in to the hostel, I really didn't like the city, and told my dad that when I called him to wish him a happy Father's Day. But as I walked around the city the next day and got more familiar with it, I began to like it a lot. Enough that I think I could live there, after all, but only for a few months at a time. Unless, that is, I could convince them to let me be a tour guide at the Georgian House. :)
Last Days in EnglandSo, here I am, all packed and ready to come home. I was quite sure that there was no possible way to get everything I own into the two suitcases and two carry-ons that I have. Shockingly, though, I got it all in, and finished quite a bit earlier than I had expected to. The GradStock end-of-year festival is going on right outside my window (and I do mean right outside), so I get to listen to all kinds of loud live music until well into the night. Unfortunately, most of it is terrible, but occasionally a good band comes along. It's now well over an hour past the time when the porter was supposed to come check me out of my room, so I suppose I'd better go make sure he realizes he's supposed to see me. After that I'll call and order a cab for tomorrow, then call my parents, and then do some reading before going to bed.
"Let their motto be, 'Hunt, shoot, and fight - the rest is not worth a fillip!' Such should be my device, were I a man." (15 points for the source, plus an extra 10 if you can name the person who says it)