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Ho-Ro, Ho-Ro ... (part 1)

Updated: Oct 22, 2018

Scotland, 23 September – 02 October.

[Due to its size, this post has been split into two.]

The previous plan was to write a daily blog as I had done for Portugal and Spain. But the lot of a car driving tourist is a very different one to that that of the wandering pilgrim. Days were fuller, reflective time much less. But to leave the journey uncaptured would be a shame, so this is a composite blog of our time in Scotland (one for England will follow later). There's more pictures than text, but hopefully the reader will get a sense of our journey.

First though, a little background. I’m a 3rd generation Aussie, although the 4th and 5th generations (Matthew and James Campbell, respectively), both born in Scotland, have strong Australian connections. I have recently discovered a transcript of the Ballarat Chronicles of December 13, 1888. It reads, in full:

Matthew Campbell was born in Lock Winnoch, Scotland, on the 14th August, 1820. He served his time as an apprentice to the engineering trade in Paisley, and was engineer on board the Clyde steamers for a time. He then entered into the engineering and iron foundry trade as head of the firm of Campbell. McNab, and Co., Greenock, and did very well but, taken with the gold fever, he left Scotland in March, 1853, arriving in Geelong in June of that year, and -went immediately to Ballarat, where he worked at the diggings about Sailor’ s Gully, and in October brought Mrs. Campbell and his son James up to Ballarat. Immediately afterwards he erected a plant for working one of the claims, and was thus, probably, but not quite certainly, as to my knowledge, the first to bring machinery on to the goldfields. He fared ill at mining, and finally went again into his old machinery business. He erected machinery at Red Hill, Gravel Pits, and Catch-me-who can Company, which latter company nearly ruined him. He erected the first portable engine which was placed alongside the swamp for the purpose of lifting water into a tank to be carted away. This was the first attempt at a steam-aided water supply for Ballarat. In 1858 be went into business in Dana street; was the first captain of the Ballarat West Fire Brigade, captain of the Ballarat Rangers, and a member, and afterwards mayor of the Ballarat West Council. At the greatest of all the fires in the Main road he worked hard between two lines of fire, was heated to fever pitch, and then caught a cold, which afterwards developed into a tumor of the worst kind. Feeling the need of change, he left Victoria in March 1864, in the Kent, and in the 18th April, 1865, he died at Rothsay, Scotland. Ha was twice married, his first wife dying when his son James was only eight days old. His second wife Mrs. Isabella Campbell, known to many old Ballarat folks, died at Millport, Scotland, in the year 1873.

I have at home a beautiful old clock, presented to Matthew in 1857 by his mining colleagues in Ballarat. I had long wondered about the story that sat behind it, and for some years had told myself that I would do a little digging around in Scotland to see if I could find a bit more of the Matthew Campbell story.

So since we were going to be “nearby” to Scotland (in an Australian sense, where distances are not off-putting), we decided that we’d travel to Scotland and then onto England to do a bit of family research. On top of just being tourists, that is.

So this blog, of the Scotland leg, is really just a travelogue; it’s a series of pictures accompanied with periodic commentary. Most of it’s not particularly heavy or reflective. A summary of 10 days in Scotland. Me, Janet, daughter Natalie and friend Helen (often referred to as “Heather”).

Here we go …

Day 0

A flying day. Santiago de Compostela to Madrid first thing. Stopover in Madrid, then off to Heathrow. Severe (and over the top) grilling by the border force fellow at Heathrow. Seems he’s been taking lessons from the Peter Dutton playbook of distrust and xenophobia (you probably need to be an Aussie to fully understand that comment). Another stopover and then on to Edinburgh.

Here we all are on one of the flights …

Day 1

Today was a day of exploration. The sun was shining so I decided to head off and climb Arthur’s Seat. A bit of dissension in the ranks. I wanted to get up to the top whilst the sun was out. (Good call. The next day was blowing a freezing gale and cloudy.)

So I went climbing whilst the girls went wandering along the Royal Mile and up to the Castle. We’d agreed to meet in a couple of hours, which we did. It was a beautiful day, and the climb up edge of the cliff overlooking the town was exhilarating and breathtaking (literally and figuratively!).

I headed back down and tracked the girls down at a coffee shop/bar down from the Castle. A lot of the infrastructure left over from the Tattoo was still in place (or in the process of being dismantled with a giant crane), which detracted a bit from the photographic opportunity, so we settled for a couple of selfies nearby. My zenfolio website will have a few better shots.

Exploring the Castle took a good few hours, so by the time we’d finished the afternoon was getting late. We headed by down the hill and then onto the National Monument and Nelson Monument both high on Calton Hill.

Day 2

As I had foreseen, the weather today had turned. An Artic gale was blowing. Climbing Arthur’s Seat was still possible, but it was going to be cold. And so it was.

But first, a climb up the Nelson Monument beckoned. The sun was shining but the wind atop was, shall we say, fresh.

Edinburgh is a walking town, and so after the two excursions out into the elements we walked back into the city centre, and then found some warmth at the Scottish National Gallery. I particularly wanted to see “Monarch of the Glen”, which, whilst painted by an English painter captures the grandeur of the Scottish highlands.

We then headed out into the wonderfully named “New Town”, that beautifully planned part of Edinburgh which was first constructed in the mid-18th century. “New” indeed.

Day 3

Up early. Catch the tram out to the airport. Collect the hire car. Head off to the highlands.

First stop the Kelpies. There’s a wonderful legend that sits behind the name and the sculpture – in essence a “kelpie” is a water spirit which inhabits the lochs. Wonderful.

Next stop Castle Campbell. I mean, where else.

Then a slow drive to our overnight stop at Aviemore.

Day 4

First stop Culloden. So much history. So bleak and barren. I don’t profess to be anywhere near knowledgeable, but having read a little about the Battle of Culloden, it’s no wonder that there’s still some residual English-Scottish tension.

Then onto nearby Inverness. Pretty city on the surface, with a somewhat darker underbelly I suspect.

A stop off on Loch Ness ...

Next stop was Urquhart Castle on the banks of Loch Ness. Freezing cold but very pretty.

Our home for the night was to be the wonderfully named Lothlorien, a few miles south of the large town of Fort William.

[... continued in part 2.]

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