Winning over Italy

A "heel to toe" look at Italy by C.C. Winning


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Alba gu bràth (part 1)

It is more than three months since we returned from our trip to Scotland and not a day goes by that I do not look at the photos with nostalgia.

There are no words to describe this country. The lochs and the canal locks, the mountains, the beaches … yes the beaches, white and sandy like you’d think you were in the Maldives.  Of course the water is a bit chilly, but …

Charles drove for miles and miles through single track roads so that those who know me well, know how stressful I am in the car but the landscape distracted me. I didn’t know whether to look to the right or left for all the beauty that surrounded me.

Sometimes truly dramatic landscapes, for example Glencoe or the Quiraing in Skye, sometimes thick green forest glens like the road to Plockton.

One day on Skye I persuaded him to take me to the northernmost part, the Trotternish peninsula, in Kilmiur to be exact. Here, in addition to the tomb of Flora McDonald, a great Scottish designer Alexander McQueen is buried. The day was windy and grey which added even more drama which already exists here.

We started our trip from Inverness, where we met Geoff an old friend of Charles. We spent two fantastic days going around the city with Geoff and his daughter Ella, including a little pub tour. Inverness, capital of the Highlands, is truly a living town and the point from which most visitors depart to explore, hundreds of backpacks ready to climb and walk the many Scottish paths.

After leaving Inverness we headed south along the Caledonian Canal, first stop Urquart castle and then the search for Nessie…..with no luck.

Our final destination for that day was Achnacarry and the Clan Cameron site. Obviously Charles (being a Cameron) was very excited.

The small museum dedicated to the clan lies in the grounds of the clan chieftain’s estate on Loch Lochy but is in the middle of nowhere.

On our way towards Achnacarry we stopped in Fort Augustus just for a wee drink.

We spent the night near Fort William in a posh B&B with a beautiful, clear morning view of Ben Nevis on our doorstep.

The day after we drove to Glencoe.

Glencoe is one of Scotland’s most scenic and beloved valleys. It is one of the most suggestive and spiritual places in Scotland. The most impressive view is the Three Sisters, three rocky mountains surrounded by gorges and waterfalls.

Needless to say that we felt really moved here, especially Charles. After all the valley is called “The Weeping Glen”. Our next stop was Glenfinnan and its famous viaduct. We headed towards Kinlochleven and then we took the B863 towards Fort William and Banavie to get to our destination.

I particularly loved this route with a magnificent landscape.

We luckily parked our car and went towards the Glenfinnan Monument.

The monument is dedicated to Bonnie Prince Charlie. It is a column, surmounted by a statue of a highlander in kilt, it was erected in 1815 at the northern end of Loch Shiel, in the place where the young Prince raised his banner for the first time. Not far away, there is the Glenfinnan viaduct, built in 1901, with 21 arches Many of you will recognise it because it appears many times in the Harry Potter films (The Hogwarts Express). The train that runs across the viaduct, the Jacobite Steam train, travels a panoramic route from Fort William to Mallaig in two hours. After a drink at nearby hotel, (actually I suggest you park the car at the hotel carpark) we made our way to the viaduct. I knew that at 3.10 pm the train would arrive. I believe Charles wasn’t so sure about this walk, but by the time we got up to the hill, lots of other people were waiting with their cameras ready to film the passing train. In fact it was very much on time; I managed to film it and took lots of pictures.

However, our day was not over yet. We are along the famous scenic road (A830), known as “Road to the Isles”. I can say, without any doubt, it is one of the most beautiful roads ever. Leaving the A830 we drove the final stretch between Arisaig and Mallaig along the old coastal road known as Alternative Coastal Route along the B8008.

Here my heart and my eyes….It is a coastal road full of islets, beaches and sand dunes. It feels like being in a Caribbean paradise. These beaches are known as the Silver Sands of Morar. We had to stop here so great was my curiosity to test the water. I must say that we were really lucky, the sun shone high, it was hot and the water was not too cold.

Our home for the night was Mallaig, a pretty fishing village. We stayed at a very nice B&B SPRINGBANK guest house (https://springbank-mallaig.co.), which I really recommend.

After we settled in, we had a stroll round the town and dinner at local pub and then, tired of the long day, I decided to go to bed. I think it was about 9.00 pm, here I realised that the sun never sets; it was 10.30 pm and I wanted to sleep but it still felt like afternoon. A beautiful light filtered through the curtains in our room.  Charles stayed up to wait for the sunset, which never really came as the sky just turned a deep red until the morning.  He gave up waiting but took some lovely photos.

 

Btw, my name its Maria and Im Charles’ wife….ciaoooo