Loch Lomond


After a day of rest at the charming Kirkton House, we ventured to the beautiful Argyll loch of legend and song.  It was a day of dark skies, but even that lent a certain majesty to the look of Ben Lomond.  Ben is the Scots word for mountain, and a loch is not a lake but a bay or arm of the sea that is nearly landlocked.  Lomond is the only loch entirely cut off from the sea.  The park includes a natural history museum, a row of shops, and Drumkinnon Tower.  The Tower houses a gift shop, a theater, a café, and a balcony overlooking the loch, where you can dine or simply relax.  The theater presents "Legend of Loch Lomond," a flight of fancy based loosely on the famous song.  Combining the romance of Argyll's Jacobite history with spectacular overflights of the Loch and a modern story line, the film mystically links past and present.






The River Clyde - Kirkton House sits above the village of Cardross and overlooks the Clyde.  The river flows east into Scotland from the Firth of Clyde, past a number of villages, and on to Glasgow and beyond, being the third longest river in Scotland.  It carried thousands of Scots sailing from Glasgow to Ireland the New World, and its name is most famous for the large and handsome draft horse bred on the farms of the region.  At the end of one day's adventure, we returned to our room at Kirkton House, sat by our window with Earl Grey tea and shortbread, and gazed across the Clyde to Port of Glasgow.  It was 10:30 p.m., and the tranquil hues of twilight had turned the grey clouds an ethereal blue.


Lynn Falls by Stevie Clarke

Lynn Falls
Courtesy of Steven Clarke of Ayrshire


These lovely falls lie on the Caaf Water in the former Barony of Lynn in Dalry, Ayrshire.  Since we weren't able to see the falls from this vantage point, we were most excited later to receive these exquisite photos by Steven Clarke.  How greatly I long now to return to these, my ancestral lands.


For Lynn / Linn history, see House-of-Lynn.


Ailsa Craig - This ancient volcanic rock rises abruptly from the sea in the Firth of Clyde.  Measuring 3900 feet in length, 2600 feet in breadth, and 1114 feet in height, it inspired the poet John Keats in 1818 to write: "Hearken, thou craggy ocean-pyramid! ... how long is't since the Mighty Power bid thee heave to airy sleep from fathom dreams? Sleep in the lap of thunder, or sunbeams, or when grey clouds are thy cold coverlid?"


Loch Derry - This Galloway loch near Derry Farm is tiny, but the lovely hills behind, and the beautiful sky above, presented a picture that could not be ignored.  The thatch in the foreground is part of the moor on Craigmoddie Fell, site of the grave of Alexander Linn, martyr.  It was May, driest month of the year.  How lovely it must look after the rains.


The River Cree and Stravaiger's Rest



Described in song as "the silv'ry winding Cree," this river flows south from Ayrshire into Dumfries and Galloway to Wigtown Bay. It takes many turns and has many looks, all of them beautiful.  A stravaiger is a wanderer; but can be either one who roams without purpose or direction or one who travels purposefully but unhindered through a wide area.  This modern stone, set by the River Cree, is dedicated to travelers past and present, wishing well to all who pass by, whether attending to mundane affairs or pursuing great adventures.



Bay of Wigtown -  In May of 1685, height of The Killing Time, 60-year-old Margaret McLachlan and teenaged Margaret Wilson, who would not desert Christ’s cause, were tied to stakes in Wigtown Bay and left to drown in the incoming tide.  The beauty of the place whispers of the scene that once unfolded in its waters.


The River Nith

St. Michael's Bridge

The Robert Burns Center  on the River Nith

A New Bridge

The Nith rises and falls with the Solway tide and flows through the town of Dumfries, about forty miles east of the Cree. Dumfries was Burns's home later in his too brief life.  He is buried several blocks from the river at St. Michael's Kirk, pictured on the "Kirks and Kirkyards" page.  The road from St. Michael's Bridge, going into town, will take you directly to the kirk.  The two plaques on the side of the bridge bear the arms of Dumfries and Maxwelltown.


The Forth River

This wide river flows from the Firth of Forth past South Queensferry, the location of Hawes Inn.  The nineteenth-century author Robert Louis Stevenson stayed often at the inn and sat at the desk by the window of room 13, where he could watch the great ships come in from the sea.  It was there he wrote a major portion of the novel "Kidnapped," inspired by the scene before him.  We can only imagine his view.




Lin's Mill Aquaduct

Two Almonds

The Other Almond


Lin's Mill - A boat ride on the canal at Lin's Mill would have been pleasant, but we were searching for an ancient property of the same name situated on the Almond River in Midlothian.  There, we hoped to find the grave of William Lin, "Richt Heritor of Lins Miln," who signed the 1643 Solemn League and Covenant and died of the plague in 1645.  We found the property but not the grave.  Later, we learned its stone had likely vanished, but fortunately had been recorded in 1985 by Donald Whyte of the Scottish Heraldry Society.

The Other Almond - This Almond River is in Perthshire and is a tributary of the River Tay.   The trees on the bank are what caught the eye, but the fishing is said to be good.


Loch Ness

The Great
Loch Ness

A Pensive John

at the Loch

The Only Monster
in Loch Ness

At the Foot of
Urquhart Castle

Far up into the north lies the great loch, described elsewhere as an "endless streak of grey."  Indeed, Ness is the largest of three lochs in the Great Glen of Urquhart, stretching for a total of 60 straight-line miles.  However, the person who described it so demeaningly must never have seen it when the sun shone, nor visited the spots where its shoreline is most charming.  One attractive scene is on the page "Flowers of Scotland."  More are on the page "Castles."


The Dochart



The Falls of Dochart  



on the River Dochart

The Dochart flows through the village of Killin in Stirlingshire at the western end of Loch Tay, and forms numerous falls, pools, and eddies.  It is possible to walk out a certain distance on the rocks, but care should be taken.  At one point, the falls cascade by the island of Innes Buie or Inchbuie, the traditional burial place of Clan McNab.  We were blessed to have a day of beautiful weather on which to enjoy the Dochart.  In fact, the weather was wonderful for practically the entire journey.  We recommend that visitors to Scotland plan a trip from mid to late May.  It is still a bit cool and often overcast, but May typically is the driest month of the year and yet many things are in bloom.


Skye Waters

The Sound of Sleat

Loch Na Dal

The Inner Sound

Broadford Bay

The Sound of Sleat - Sleat (pronounced Slate) lies between the Isle of Skye and the mainland of Scotland.  Here, we stood on the coast of Skye and looked toward the mainland.  After his dreadful defeat at Culloden and flight to Skye in 1746, Bonnie Prince Charlie may have stood just so, grieving over his failed bid for the Scottish throne.

Loch Na Dal - Na Dal is an inlet of the Sound of Sleat.  We snapped this and many other photos as we drove along the coast and regret we didn't do more walking.  If we had, we may have seen views such as this:

The Inner Sound - This Sound separates the Inner Hebridean Isles of Skye, Raasay, and South Rona from the mainland of Scotland.  Here we looked across the Sound from Skye to the mainland's Applecross Peninsula.

Broadford Bay - The Bay lies on the southern edge, or Skye coastline, of the Inner Sound.  A large settlement grew up around the Bay, owing its livelihood to the sea.


A Few More Lochs of the Highlands

Loch Cluanie

Loch Leven

Loch Garry

Loch Cluanie - This loch is actually a reservoir created in the 1950s by the building of a dam to generate hydroelectricity.

Loch Leven - On the far side of this loch, at the foot of the Mamore Mountains, is nestled the little village of Kinlochleven, just a few miles from the site of the infamous massacre of the MacDonalds of Glen Coe.  We drove into the village, parked, and walked to the foot of the mountains to see the Grey Mare's Tail.

Loch Garry - Loch Garry is the headwaters of the River Garry, which flows through the glen of the same name.  In 1539, a royal charter for the glen was granted to Alexander MacDonnell, whose sept of Clan Donald came to be called MacDonnell of Glengarry.


The Grey Mare's Tail



 Three Wee Lassies at




 the Grey Mare's Tail


Aptly named, this plume of water is at the end of one of the highest falls in Britain.  The three young ladies we encountered had taken the scenic route home from school to find us with our camera.  They seemed amused that a woman of my age, not exactly dressed for hiking, would take off her shoes and stand in a pool of water below a waterfall.  The photo they watched John take does look a bit silly, which explains why it isn't here.  Their photo is so much cuter (but not for sale, downloading, or copying).


On the Bonnie Doon

Auld Brig o' Doon

The Doon at Midday

On the Auld Brig

The New Bridge

The Doon in the Gloamin'

Forget the Hollywood fluff and nonsense called "Brigadoon."   The brig o' Doon is a real bridge in the very real village of Alloway, which was but a hamlet when Robert Burns was born there in 1759.  It was old even then, having been built in the 12th century.  It spans the river about which Burns wrote in "Ye Banks and Braes O' Bonnie Doon."  John and I stood on the bridge and wondered if Burns had often stood on the same spot.  We also had the pleasure of staying at a bed and breakfast where the property slopes down to the very banks of the Doon.  One evening we sat by its gently flowing waters, singing all the Burns songs we knew.  The Bard of Scotland wrote "Auld Lang Syne," "Ae Fond Kiss," "Scots Wha Hae" and hundreds of other romantic, heroic, or humorous songs and poems about his native land and people.


Loch Lomond Farewell

"By yon bonnie banks and by yon bonnie braes, where the sun shines bright on Loch Lomond !"



Our fantastic journey of sixteen hundred miles and thirteen days was nearly done, and we came again to Loch Lomond for our last evening in Scotland.  We ordered dinner in the café and carried it out to a table on the balcony.  Wistfully, I gazed out over the blue waters and thought of that beautiful but melancholy song I'd heard since childhood.

Legend has it that the Scottish song "Loch Lomond" was written by a Jacobite soldier from Argyll who was captured and left behind in England after the rising of 1745.  He was to be executed, while his comrades were to be released.  According to Gaelic folklore, the spirit of the dead travel by the "low road" and the condemned man would arrive in Scotland while the living continued to struggle over the rugged terrain of the "high road."  And so, the soldier who would be executed wrote to one of his comrades of the sweetheart he would never meet again, and the lovely loch they had so often and so well enjoyed ...

By yon bonnie banks and by yon bonnie braes,

Where the sun shines bright on Loch Lomond,

Where me an' my true love were ever wont to gae ~
On the bonnie, bonnie banks o' Loch Lomond.

'Twas there that we parted in yon shady glen

On the steep, steep sides o' Ben Lomond,

Where in the purple hue, the Hieland hills we view,

An' the moon comin' out in the gloamin'.

Oh, ye'll tak the high road an' I'll tak the low road,

And I'll be in Scotland afore ye,

But me an' my true love will never meet again

On the bonnie, bonnie banks o' Loch Lomond.

(Author Unknown)

Now, our own parting at Loch Lomond was not from each other but from the land we had come to love so well on the journey which had begun only two weeks before.  How swiftly the days had flown!

Along the way, we encountered creatures great and small.  We visited kirks and castles, lovely gardens and inspiring tombs.  We surveyed battlefields and monuments, sky-blue lochs and picturesque bridges.  We gazed at lofty mountains and shining rivers and seas.  We enjoyed charming hospitality and wonderful Scottish cooking.  And we discovered our Scottish heritage, and our heritage of faith.

For most of my life, seeing Scotland had been my heart’s desire, while John once would have been happy never to leave American soil.  Then, a few years ago, we went to the Grandfather Mountain Highland Games in North Carolina, and John began to think that a visit to Scotland just might be fun.  Still, the trip was my dream, and he was willing to go anywhere I wanted, no matter how remote, and in spite of having to drive on the wrong side of the road, from the wrong side of the car.  It was sometimes a daunting task.  Imagine my surprise, then, on the plane leaving Glasgow to come home again, when he smiled at me and declared, “We are coming back to Scotland!”  Then I thought, having seen and done all I had dreamed, that my journey of a lifetime could not have been more perfect.

For we're no awa' tae bide awa',
For we're no awa' tae le'e ye,
For we're no awa' tae bide awa',
We'll aye come back an' see ye!

For we're not away to stay away,
For we're not away to leave you,
For we're not away to stay away,
We'll e'er come back and see you!