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Glencoe and surroundings

Home -> Europe -> Scotland -> Travelogue Scotland -> 21 June 2009

Sunday 21 June, Glencoe and surroundings

Glencoe Village Glencoe VillageWe wake up late today and we prepare a breakfast for ourselves. Not as good as we had in the last few days, but here we have more freedom and that is nice too. At times we can be very social but we also like to be on ourselves. After breakfast we first take a walk through the village, Glencoe Village. It is a small village at the foot of the Glencoe Mountains where the river Coe flows into Loch Leven.
Glencoe Village Glencoe VillageOriginally this was a settlement of the clan MacDonald and in the village there are still many small old houses that have been nicely restored. But nowadays it is mainly set on tourism, there are countless bed and breakfasts and cottages for rent. Of course there is also a folk museum, the Glencoe & North Lorn folkmuseum where you can see many old objects from local history and of course stories are told about that eventful history itself.
Bridge to the Glencoe Massacre Monument The Glencoe Massacre MonumentAt the end of the village on the south side, a bridge leads to the monument in memory of the gruesome mass murder of the MacDonalds on February 13, 1692. The MacDonalds offered the visiting members of the Campbell clan hospitality as according to the Scottish tradition was normal, but were slaughtered by them: 38 men were murdered and another 40 women and children died after their houses were burnt down, a Scottish scandal for this abuse of hospitality.
The Glencoe Massacre Monument The Glencoe Massacre MonumentThe MacDonalds did not know that the Campbells were doing this on behalf of William III to whom the MacDonalds had not sworn an oath of allegiance in time. This is of course a very short and simple version of the story, if you want to know more, take a look at this website. Unfortunately, such massacres were not uncommon in Scotland but this story has always been very well known, historians still do not know exactly why this story kept so vivid. The valley is now also called the Valley of Tears and local folklore says there is a curse over the area. There are regular deadly accidents with hikers, mountaineers and skiers here, but that is mainly due to the rapidly changing weather conditions that people are not prepared for.
T-Ford oldtimer Ballchulish slate quarryA little outside the village is the Glencoe Visitor Center where you can also see and experience a lot about the Glen, not only about the history but also about the flora and fauna of the area. In the parking lot we see a beautiful T-Ford oldtimer. I love classic cars and you see them regularly in Scotland here but rarely such a beautiful example.
After an extensive walk we drive to Ballachulish where in the past a lot of slate was extracted. We go to one that is right along the main road.
Ballchulish slate quarry Ballchulish slate quarryOn the steep walls, groups of people are taught to climb a mountain while we fill our backpacks with pieces of slate, which is great for our garden. Maybe not entirely legal, but there was no sign that it was not allowed and we still export a piece of Scotland. And there is a lot lying around, nobody will miss it... so we tell ourselves.
Castle Stalker Loch laichThen we drive further south, towards Oban, and pass Castle Stalker, a four-storey fortress from the 15th century. It is beautifully situated on a small island in Loch Laich and is best known for being used in the film Monty Python and the Holy Grail for the final scene as The Castle of Aaaaarrrrrrggghhh. The castle can be visited but there are limited tours so you have to book in advance.
Barcaldine Castle Barcaldine CastleAt Benderloch we take a picture of the next castle, Barcaldine Castle or also the Black Castle. A sign makes clear how we should behave as castle lovers. If we want to see it from closer or even inside, we will have to book a room because the castle is also a luxury bed and breakfast. One night will cost you more than 200 pounds!
In the village we walk around and are spontaneously invited by a woman for a beer. Teije likes to have one and we have a nice conversation. And a little later I find in a shop the sweets that I love so much and that are almost nowhere to get, I've been looking for them for years now. What I do not know yet is that will also be the very last time I see them no matter how often we search. But for now I have 5 bags full again.
Boat along a loch View from our log cabin, GlencoeWe decide not to drive to Oban because it is late in the afternoon and we go back to our log cabin. There are more clouds than yesterday and it is chillier and occasionally there is some drizzle so this evening we stay inside. All in all a successful day again. I am going to do something about the windows because it is very early light in the morning and the windows have no curtains. But we always are prepared for such things and with garbage bags and pushpins I darken them!


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