I’ve been writing about my trip to Europe for a little while – this is part three (here is part one and part two!). I love reliving it as well as hearing about your trips and where your heart is dying to go. If you come here just for the recipes, no sweat! I’ve been sick so I haven’t been in the kitchen as much as I would like to over the last four months, but come back soon for more recipes, I’m still baking as much as I can muster. Anyways, I left off after the day we spent in Glasgow with my Nana’s cousin.
We headed out for Fort William one morning. My first train. Or at least my first train that would actually get me somewhere far (the odd transit ride or ride in an old train which takes you in a circle weren’t counting in my mind). It was smooth and quick. I have no problem with hours and hours in a car, but this was just so much more fun. Everyone was relaxed. We could get up and stretch our legs at any time. There was a table to write our postcards, spread out our lunches and chat as we enjoyed the scenery.
Waterfalls gushing as the rain fell, sheep grazing on their grass, trees in every direction you look, lakes filled with the most perfectly placed water, rivers gathering the rain, trees bending and twisting in the way that only a tree can, mountains holding the land up on both sides, valleys with winded trees. It was all there. It was all beautiful. It was all magic.
By the time our train arrived in Fort William, it was pouring. The rain was falling sideways. We headed out from the train station, walking to the B&B with our suitcases. The rain didn’t stop, if anything it got harder. I was thankful for a good raincoat. By the time we saw the road for the B&B and started going up the hill, it was starting to become funny. Sideways rain, going uphill with suitcases in tow, to our B&B. It felt like the start to a fairytale. In a way, it was. Just not one that involved a wolf, an inability to sleep over silly things, or a glass slipper. It did involve a tree, a little house, and ruins though. After we had been there for about 10 minutes, the sun came out and we started to see the charm of this adorable town.
Once we woke up the next morning, we had to go get the car. Dad was going to drive. We walked over and silently hoped that the other side of the road would be kind to him. The truth is, he didn’t do so bad on the windy little roads of the Scottish Highlands. He loved every moment of it, which made the high speeds and windy roads not so bad (though, after two days of near-solid driving, I got carsick for the first time in my life. Nothing to do with dad, just the way they drive over there. Considering how much driving we do on a regular basis, that’s saying something.) The roads, they were so tiny and obviously the birthplace of many rally drivers (according to Dad, and boy do I believe him.) We don’t have roads like that, even way up in the mountains. Regardless, they were the roads taking us to see important things.
We stopped at a monument, the one with the circle of memorials. Then, to Murlagan it was. After a little bit of two-lane road, we were on the single track road, which came down by the lake. It must have been where the idea for rollercoasters came into being. Dips and turns and ups and downs and repeat. The spots though, on the way there, where campers and trailers hid amongst the trees, were quiet and serene in the forrest by the lake. We might have ran into one car on the whole trip there and back. It was most definitely out of the way, but exactly where I wanted to be.
As the car started to climb hills (still a winding road – that road never stopped winding), I saw stories in the hills. Hope in the ruins. Battles in the wind. There is a kinship with that land that I will never be able to adequately describe. Knowing that my ancestors lived just over that hill is something that will never leave me. Once Murlagan came into view, the one remaining house felt like a place that part of my heart will always live even though I’ve never stepped foot in it.
That tiny, precious little house looked out over the lake and the mountains. Most importantly, it looked out over a few trees. One tree, which looked more like a family tree than any one I have ever seen, stood over the ancient graveyard. It felt like it was protecting all of those who lived in the ancient clan as well as bringing hope to those of us who have returned. That tree is my roots. At least a part of it. As we walked over on the rain soaked grass, we felt the wind and a moment of light sun. Standing on their graves, it all felt surreal. I saw what they saw, in this untouched land. I saw their lake, I felt their wind, I watched their clouds move, in just the same way it would have when they lived. Soaking it in, I wondered what their lives were like. How they lived, what they ate, what they fought for, how they laughed, what they looked like. Hoping I was doing them proud.
We spent a moment taking family photos until a droplet warned of rain and we went back to the car before it started to pour. Something about that place, the way it was and the way it felt, will always be home. Even now, months later, I feel my skin remembering its wind, its air. I could have spent hours looking at those rocks, trees, mountains and the lake. I have a feeling that wasn’t my last time there. It also made me long to see the other places where other parts of my family lived hundreds of years ago. One day.
As we drove back down the winding road, the rain pounded. Ferns in full bloom covered every spare patch of ground. Fields and fields of them. Driving back, I was on the side looking up towards the hills and ferns and the fabric of the land. But as we approached one spot – where the road came right to the lake, I made them stop. There was a tiny little boat that caught my eye while we were driving out. Why? It was called Lauren. I love fun little coincidences like that. Snap, snap, shoot it’s starting to rain again and run back to the car. That was how a lot of those photographing adventures went in Scotland, but I loved it. It makes me cherish the growth and the sun became all the more valuable.
Our day wasn’t over there. Once we’d finished unwinding from the single-track road to Murlagan, we drove. I know dad knew exactly where we were going, but there was some freedom there. No pressure. It meant we arrived at Urqheart Castle 15 minutes after closing. I was disappointed but excited that another day would hold my first castle. I’m thankful that day didn’t get packed too tightly. Castles deserve their own day, and so did Murlagan.