Rannie recommends 10 Celtic attractions in Scotland. I’ve only visited one since there is so much to see in this small country: that is the Isle of Staffa, Fingal’s Cave.
Staffa means “Pillar Island” from Norse derivation, an understated description for a unique geological wonder. Fingal’s Cave made famous in fable and Mendelssohn’s music. On most days, walk right inside the cave and hear your own music in the eternal surge of the sea.
Since we were already out in the sea, we went to an ancient island of Iona situated at the edge of the Atlantic Ocean, a short ferry ride from the Island of Mull. We visited the Abbey and Nunnery that is open to the public occupied by a rent-free tenant group of The Iona Community living as a Christian community and responsible for interior maintenance of the residential quarters and preservation for future generations.
Historical, St. Columba landed in Iona on year 563 bringing with him the light of Christianity which radiated from Iona to Britain and beyond Europe. He chose Iona as the center of his mission because it was the first island from which he could not see his beloved homeland, Ireland.
Iona is also known as the burial place of many Scottish and Scandinavian Kings. There was so much activity from the days of St. Columba to the establishment of the Benedictine Monastery and Augustinian Nunnery, Viking raids and cruel slaughter of the monks.
This sacred isle has an aura of peace and serenity, which leaves a mark on most seasoned travelers. We visited the Abbey, wandered in the ruined Nunnery and Riellig Oran, see a female figure of Irish style carving, Shella-Na-Gig, burial places of 48 Scottish Kings, infamous Macbeth, numerous French, Irish and Norwegian Monarchs.
And where did we actually stay in Scotland?
Oban. Oban what? It is a place where you will know the folly of McCaig Tower. One cannot miss this “eye-sore” as what the locals said to us, but this monument put Oban on the map.
It looks like a replica of the Colosseum of Rome.
With all the good intentions of Mr. McCaig of building a museum, art gallery, filling it with monuments of him and his ancestry, it never materializes. Mind you, this is an excellent place to wander around and a magnificent view to see the landscape of Oban and the sea.
We stayed at bed and breakfast of Cala Na Sithr (Haven of Peace), the missus says that she owns the last dog breed by the Mother of Princess of Wales, Diana.
Of course, we went to Edinburgh to pay homage to the Queen of Scotland and walked the Royal Mile. When I’m asked what a Royal Mile is about, my story is as follows:
The story goes when it’s time for the Queen of Scots to take a bath, there will be a procession of grunts to accompany her. One wouldn’t want to miss this parade. The stretch of “walkway” from the Palace to the Bathhouse is called the Royal Mile, 1.8 km. Since it’s quite a distance to the bathhouse, bath time is once in a blue moon, therefore the Queen of Scots is mostly covered with facial powder and wore a wig to hide whatever. So that’s my story and sticking to it!
The origin of the rock is a volacano, ice and man all shapred the landscape 350 million years ago. The Castle Rock was an erupting volcano which stood on a wide rive plain, close to a tropical sea. When volcanic activity stopped, the volcano was buried beath of sand and mud.
Dring the Ice Age the old vocano was uncovered by tremendous force of ice, scuplting the volcano’s solid core dramatically against the landscape. Its stark shape was further emphasized by the hollow gouged around it by the ice. This hollow became a marshy valley to the north which formed the Nor Loch when its streams were dammed in 1450.
The crag of Castle Rock formed a natural defensive position which was built on from around 1125. In 1760 drainage of the loch began. Later the railway was constructed and the Princes Street Gardens laid out on the loch bed. The gardens have evolved ever since and work continues to conserve and enhance them for the benefit of present and future generations.
Source: Scottish Natural Heritage.
Here’s what I tell people about the lake below the rock. It has nothing to do with Loch Ness Monsters but about belief systems. This is where they throw the so-called “witches.”
When in Scotland, we did not care so much about the weather. As you can see, it was mostly overcast. The history itself makes up for the inconvenience of the last sunny days.