Scotland Road Trip Memories

I found some pages of the journal I took with me to Scotland in March 2016 wherein I documented our trip to the Isle of Skye. I tried to write down lots of details as we sat wrapped in warm blankets on the couch of our rented caravan each evening. I think I did a pretty good job of keeping the details straight while painting pictures with my words.

I hope you enjoy the next few posts.

Friday, March 18th, 2016 – Eilean Donan Castle

Sitting in our caravan the clouds outside hang low on the tops of the hills. They are high, but their tops are hidden by the mist that surrounds them. The weather can change in a second, like yesterday when we toured Eilean Donan castle. The clouds were there, but in five minutes, the sun came out and warmed us all so well. It lit up the loch, making the water sparkle and shine like diamonds.

The castle stands tall and proud on its throne that is nestled in the water, connected to the mainland by a stone bridge. What a dream come true it would be to get married there.

In the main rooms which the McKenzie family still occupies sometimes, are full of large portraits of their ancestors. One had a toe which was painted so that anywhere you stood, it continued pointing at you. The kilted tour guide had bright blue eyes, a white, scruffy beard, and wore his family’s tartan. He laughed long and loud at our questions and comments as he showed us the slits in the opposite wall from the main entrance where the castle defenders could shoot anyone who was unwelcome if they burst through the door.

The roof we stood on was the place where a dance was held on the eve of a battle at one time. The painting of the scene was eerie, the highlanders kicking up their legs in a dance with happy, yet somber faces etched with worry of what awaited them when the sun rose.

A painting of the crowd and Queen Elizabeth at Churchill’s funeral occupied one wall of a hallway between the castle bedroom chambers upstairs. The female guide asked us to look closely, for the artist always added a tiny mouse somewhere in his work. Caroline saw him, at the foot of a lord, standing a few people back from the black clad queen. Even the mouse looked as if he was grieving as he clung to the shoe of the lord and watched the funeral procession pass by.

The told me to open cupboards in the bedroom of one of the residents and take a look. I did and was shocked to find a plastic skeleton hanging inside one of them. “Every family has one!” She said, laughing. I’m sure she is right. A family who inherits a castle must have a few secrets lurking nearby.

We wove our way through the castle and up and down tiny spiral stone staircases for almost two hours. The loch lay quietly around us as we did so, and standing at the stone lookout at the back of the castle, I imagined enemies of the clan approaching in ships, bent on destroying the stronghold. Eliean Donan was an important fortress because it is the gateway to other important lochs.

Can you imagine living there, keeping watch over the open waters before you? How frightening to see an enemy ship making its way toward you, then begin firing cannon balls at the walls of the castle you are standing in?

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