The last days in Scotland, always a pity, but we come here so often that we feel completely at home and know that we will come back again. We have seen so much that we are now pretending to be at home and first go to Inverness for a cup of coffee. We park the car at our regular location in a parking garage and walk past the station to the pizzeria where they have nice coffee. Teije is a bit over-enthusiastic with his bare arms, I prefer to wear a vest.
This afternoon we are looking for some roads that we have not driven yet, I don't have to talk about Teije's obsession to drive down all the roads in Scotland anymore, right? He always finds a few and so we now pass under the Culloden viaduct, which is also known as the Nairn or Clava viaduct. It is a brick railway bridge from 1898 with 29 pillars and over 500 meters long crossing the Nairn river. On the right picture you can see graffiti at the bottom of the pillar: free scotland. After the referendum in 2014 where a small majority of the Scots (although, also all Englishmen who lived in Scotland were allowed to vote) voted against independence from the United Kingdom, there is still a strong sentiment among many Scots that they want to be independent. Fortunately, this is expressed mainly in a non-aggressive way, because in other countries, just think of Ireland, things happened or happen quite differently.
Not far from Clava Cairns, a very beautiful prehistoric site, we see a detached standing stone in a meadow and fifteen minutes later in the neighborhood of Daviot a small church where no road seems to go. All small surprises in the Scottish landscape that you only encounter when you leave the tourist paths. We have the luxury to take all the time we want since we have been here so often, but there is still so much more that we have not seen yet!
Landscapes that we never get bored of, the sky and the clouds above the land, mountains in the distance or close, mist and fog, and yes, unfortunately also regularly some rain. We drive a bit along the east coast of Loch Ness, a beautiful area that is skipped by most of the tourists, a shame since it is very nice. There is a road mostly along the lake but a bit more inland the roads go up the hills and sometimes you have beautiful views from there.
On one of those roads, near Aldourie, we suddenly see a metal fence with a weapon on it, a cat with a shield decorated with a star and dots. Something unexpected again and we step out to have a look. It is the McBain Memorial Park. The McBains or MacBeans were part of the Chattan clan, which was actually a kind of collaboration of various clans. This place, Kinchyle, was once their territory but they had to sell the estate in 1759 due to debts. Since 1961 they have been in possession of a very small piece of land (2 hectares) again.
On this piece of land a Memorial Park was realized, a reminder for all McBains in the world (most of them live in the US and Canada) that this was their origin. The motto of the clan is 'Touch not a catt bot a targe' which means 'Do not touch this cat without a shield'. But from the beginning plants were damaged and stolen and they decided to put down warning signs but in a humorous way. Like the tree on the right: I'm just a wee tree, please, please, let me be. Other lyrics are 'A thief one day, to our dismay, took plants away, he'll rue that day!' and 'Please let us stay; we want to cheer you, on your way! '. But there were also things of bronze such as a plaque and thieves could not resist taking that. In 1997 2 bronze cats were stolen and the plaque in 2011. Everything has now been restored and even though everything looks like bronze, it is of a different (worthless) material that looks like it.
It is a nice place to visit and walk around. After that we drive around a bit but go back to Beauly fairly early, where we spend the last evening with Iain and Cathy. On the map you see globally where we have been but in reality we also have driven a lot of dead-end roads, there are lots of them.
The last morning we have to be at the airport by 9:30 and we leave at 9 o'clock, after we have received one last Scottish breakfast. We'll have to miss that for a while, but the plan is that we will be back next year. Everything runs smoothly at the airport and soon I'm drinking coffee in a too large cup and it is very weak. I will not miss that!