On the Road and In Your Backyard

Good Morning All,

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Today, pictures from valued commenter cosima.

General Description/Intro:
Most of you will know that we moved to Scotland some time ago.  I do a lot of chauffeuring the girls around when our oldest comes to visit, as the girls love nothing more than to find somewhere to swim together.  This past summer/fall was not very nice, so a lot of their swimming was done in the ocean in wetsuits, but they are up for a (very cold) swim in the river if needs must or on a hot day.  I do not ever swim with them — my days of swimming in freezing cold water are long past.

Here are some photos from my adventures with the girls.  Some of these are near where we live, others are from a trip we took last summer (such as it was) to the West Coast.

Secret Swimming Hole —  This is about 5 minutes from our house.  There’s a little rock outcropping beyond the bridge that has a rope swing dropping into a deep pool.  The girls ride the chute down under the bridge.  Lots of fun had here on a sunny day.

Hell’s Ear (Pennan) — This is ‘Hell’s Lum’ which means ‘Hell’s Ear.’  I have no idea why it is called that, but if I had to guess it’s because there are a lot of caves, and if the wind were blowing through it might make some very spooky sounds.  It’s not easy to find, fortunately, so you rarely find anyone there.  There are caves that go through to other coves (and give parents heart attacks when their girls go to explore them and then don’t come out where they are supposed to), which makes for some really interesting adventures for the girls.  It takes a bit over an hour to drive there from our house, so it’s just close enough for us to make it an afternoon adventure.


Mar Lodge Estate —  Mar Lodge is about 1/2 hour from where we live.  It is simply amazing.  We’d never been until last year, in spite of it being a major draw locally (or perhaps because of that), and now we will go back regularly — during the week, when it is not full of people.  They are committed to doing conservation & re-planting to a degree that very few estates are, so worth visiting & supporting for that alone.  This pool has a lot of green colour in it, from the rocks, and is stunning — that’s actually not something you see elsewhere in this area.

Laide —   This is from a viewpoint that gets very crowded, along the NC500.  The girls swam at the sandy beach in the distance, in their wetsuits, lots of jellyfish!

Jellyfish —   What a beautiful specimen!


Skye —  Can’t have a post of photos from Scotland without including one from Skye.  Skye is one of those places that needs weeks to do it justice.  It takes a long time to drive around (single-tracks), and a lot of time to walk into these amazing places.  Much the same as the rest of Scotland, even having lived here nearly 10 years (total) we’re a long way from seeing half of what is on our bucket lists.

Thank you so much cosima, do send us more when you can.


Travel safely everybody, and do share some stories in the comments, even if you’re joining the conversation late. Many folks confide that they go back and read old threads, one reason these are available on the Quick Links menu.


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30 replies
  1. 1
    Mary G says:

    Brr, those girls are tough. I have always wanted to see Scotland. Thanks for the beautiful pictures, Cosima.

  2. 2
    cosima says:

    @Mary G: I don’t know how they do it, especially Little C, who has near-zero body fat. She can only last about 20 minutes in a river or lake, and tends to stay too long in the ocean because of her wetsuit. Which is part of the reason I freak out when at Pennan — they got a scolding last time.

    There are beautiful photographs of Scotland all over the place (I’m actually a really terrible photographer, and manage to get a nice one only through sheer numbers, the odds are with me). Here are two links to a couple of ooh & awe inspiring photos:


    http://www.jacksonphotography......0373.html#! (this one actually has some amazing photos on FB, but FB, so no-go)

  3. 3
    satby says:

    Very beautiful cosima! I’ve only gotten to Glasgow once, but I hope I can someday see more of Scotland.

  4. 4
    JPL says:

    @cosima: Thank you so much for the pictures.

  5. 5
    cosima says:

    @satby: We’re proper residents now (no longer on visas), so our plan is to be here forever. If you head back this direction, send one of the FPers an email requesting my contact info if you want to try for a meet-up, or if you just want some suggestions for places to go/see/do. Rural Scotland is absolutely glorious, and we often end up in very beautiful little-known places thanks to Little C’s sport adventures (orienteering).

  6. 6
    cosima says:

    @JPL: You’re welcome. I’m not very good at taking photos, the Jelly & Skye photos were taken by my oldest daughter — she’s amazing. Even Little C is a photo genius compared to me.

  7. 7
    p.a. says:

    @cosima: As a complete photo hack, I really appreciate digital, where I can sometimes make up with volume what I lack in skill.
    I think from an American perspective, Europe is thought of in terms of architectural beauty going back even to Minoan times more than natural beauty, but the work here at On the Road… shows that’s not true. Not knowing much Scots history, I don’t know of any times it might have been said to be overpopulated, which tends to lead to environmental destruction.

  8. 8
    cosima says:

    @p.a.: Yes, my photo skills are basically ‘take 100 photos and one is bound to be good’ (odds). My dslr is a first-generation Olympus EP-L, which is amazing, but of course does not take photos as fine as the cameras & phones out now unless using manual settings or raw files, neither of which I have mastered.

    Much of what makes & keeps Scotland beautiful is its empty landscapes. When we go to England we are overwhelmed by how many people are crammed into such a small space — can’t wait to get back home and breathe. There is beautiful architecture here, the old buildings, the abbeys, churches, universities — that is a novelty when you first arrive, to visit or live, from the US. But we’ve been here quite a while now, and I am mostly over the buildings, and more interested in visiting remote places, old cultural historical places (pictish & standing stones). However, there are still buildings on my bucket list! And going to Falkirk for the Kelpies & the Wheel (Mr C & Little C have been, but I have not).

  9. 9
    OzarkHillbilly says:


  10. 10
    arrieve says:

    Wonderful photos! I’ve been lucky enough to see many beautiful places in this world but Scotland is maybe my favorite. It’s definitely my fantasy chuck everything and move location, and I’m envious that you actually get to live there.

  11. 11
    cosima says:

    @OzarkHillbilly: Come visit — we have spare rooms, and are pretty excellent hosts (we’ve been told). Our daughter’s partner got a flight via Norwegian Air that was less than $300 between Boston – Edinburgh because he was flexible about day/time.

  12. 12
    Steeplejack (phone) says:

    Amazing pictures! Thank you, cosima.

  13. 13
    debbie says:

    What a beautiful country!

  14. 14
    cosima says:

    @arrieve: Yes, we still feel a bit like we’re living our fantasy life when we get out into some amazing bit of the countryside, the coast, or even visiting some of the amazing buildings, I guess just about every single day. We live fairly rural, and I can be at the river or a stone circle or a castle all within a 10 minute walk. But when Little C is out of school what we really want to do is head way out into the countryside, get a place with no neighbours, only the birds & deer & other animals as company (and our dog!).

  15. 15
    Albatrossity says:

    Gorgeous pictures of a gorgeous country! Thanks for sharing those. I’ve only visited once, and we stayed away from the cities and in the beautiful parts of it, like the places you show in your pics. We didn’t get nearly as many sunny days, but I’d go back for another look any time!


  16. 16
    eclare says:

    Beautiful photos!

  17. 17
    NotMax says:

    Speaking of Scotland, the one day of the year opening to the public of the gardens at Portrack is May 6 this year. Tickets are limited to 1500.

  18. 18
    delk says:


  19. 19
  20. 20
    evap says:

    nice pics! Where in Scotland do you live? I was in the highlands (near Fort William) in late December visiting some friends who run a B&B there. It was absolutely beautiful and we did a lot of walking. We also spent a few days around New Years with friends in Ediburgh and that was fabulous as well. The scenery we passed during the train ride from the highlands to Edinburgh was amazing, so remote and wild.

  21. 21
    Mart says:

    Great pics and story. My wife and I took a train from London to Edinburgh. Our assigned seats ended up facing a young Muslim couple attending university. I asked them where they were from, the man answered Iraq. I could feel myself turning purple. They were Kurdish (think we were friends that week?), but I still felt so much shame. Nearby passenger had fought in Iraq in 91, so we ended up having a bizarre friendly conversation ending all the world’s ills. Wife wanted to go out to the country, but I felt we did not have enough time. Your pictures are making me kick myself. The city sights, flights of whiskey, and vegetarian bangers and mash were awesome though.

  22. 22
    cosima says:

    @NotMax: I would love to see those gardens, but it will have to be a different year. This year in May we are up to our eyeballs in visitors and band competitions and sport competitions, and that is actually quite a long drive for us — about 4 hours each way. Maybe even longer. The last time we went to Dumfriesshire/Galloway we stayed for 4 days. But wow, those gardens — I’ve wanted to go for years.

  23. 23
    cosima says:

    @evap: We live in the Cairngorms along the River Dee, between Aberdeen and Inverness (to give you the two biggest cities — we are much closer to Aberdeen than Inverness).

    @Mart: We have had some really wonderful train conversations here, truly memorable. It’s my favourite way to travel when we can get away with it (most weekends during the race season find us heading out to a remote forest far off the rail system). @Albatrossity: You’re (all) welcome to contact me via one of the FPers if you decide to come back — we can have a BJuice meet-up, or I can just give you some suggestions re: places to go/see/do. One thing that you’ll have discovered when you visited is that it takes a long time to get places here. When someone looks on the map and sees it’s only 100 miles from A to B they think ‘no problem! I’ll be there in a couple of hours, with time to stop for a snack.’ No way! My husband’s 30-ish mile commute takes anywhere from 45 minutes to 1’15” — it’s just not easy to get around here, so what you want to see/do has to be very well planned out. The cities are lovely, and by all means, give yourself a couple of days in Glasgow & Edinburgh (each), but the rest of a Scotland holiday should be in the wild spaces — it can be as civilised/posh or not as you want it to be.

  24. 24
    stinger says:

    Okay, I’ll say it if no one else will — great photos of Mar-a-Lodge-o!


    Many many years ago I spent a weekend in Edinburgh, which remains the most beautiful city I’ve ever seen. I’m more of a “wilds” person, though, and would love to see the Highlands. My sister-in-law and I are talking of walking across Scotland (or maybe just making a loop) a couple of years from now, and a friend did something similar last fall. I’ve been dreaming over a Long Walks book for years.

    Wonderful photos, cosima!

  25. 25
    cosima says:

    @stinger: If you’re super adventurous you should look into doing a Bothy walk. If you are on the evil facebook, look for the John Muir Trust — a few days ago they had a post by a photographer who followed a river/burn/? from coast to source. The photos are amazing, and it looks very inspiring. You could look for Ramblers Scotland — it’s a good place to start if you’re thinking of a serious walking holiday. Have a FPer connect us when you are looking into planning.


  26. 26
    Albatrossity says:

    @cosima: Thanks! Yes, it takes a while to get places, especially in the Outer Hebrides where all the road signs are in Gaelic. We loved the Cairngorms, staying near Kingussie for a few days; that is a lovely part of the country, for certain. We did spend some time in Aberdeen and in Edinburgh, but I enjoyed the Highlands, the Outer Hebrides, and Orkney a whole lot more. My great grandfather emigrated to America from Scotland in the 19th Century; we also visited the farmstead (now abandoned) in Perthshire where he was born. If we do get back there, a meetup would be great, and I would definitely want to visit Skye, and some of the other islands in Orkney. Some of the images from our visit (in 2008) can be seen at http://www.davidrintoul.com/custom.html

  27. 27
    Comrade Colette Collaboratrice says:

    Aargh, so late to the thread – but what wonderful pix! Monsieur Colette and I are heading to Scotland next month and I’m so excited! I’ve looked up each of the locations of your photos and added them to our tentative itinerary, although I doubt we’ll get as far as Skye. We’ve never been to Scotland before and want to see everything, but we aren’t fooling ourselves that we can see more than a little bit of it in 10 days. I’ve heard that like France (and Narnia), it’s a country that’s bigger on the inside than it is on the outside.

    The cities are lovely, and by all means, give yourself a couple of days in Glasgow & Edinburgh (each), but the rest of a Scotland holiday should be in the wild spaces — it can be as civilised/posh or not as you want it to be.

    That’s our plan, to the extent we have one: three days in Edinburgh with a group of friends, then off on our own into the wilds. I’d love to have some suggestions – Cosima, I expect you won’t see this but I will try to hunt you down in later threads and ask for recommendations. Yay!

  28. 28
    cosima says:

    @Comrade Colette Collaboratrice: Exciting trip planned! Do send me an email — if you message picstopost or another BJ FP address they would be able to give you my email address. Perhaps we can have a BJ meetup (if we are organised enough maybe we could get HeleninEire to come over, and possibly swoop up a lurker or two).

    I could definitely give you some good suggestions for a 6-day loop from Edinburgh back to Edinburgh.

  29. 29
    cosima says:

    @Albatrossity: Lovely photos! It looks like you had nice weather for some of your island days, which is a rare treat. Old Aberdeen has some amazing architecture, but the rest is pretty uninspiring. It has a spot in my heart, always, as Little C was born there, but I only go every few months (or longer, if I can get away with it). All of Scotland is spectacular, but the Highlands and the big forests (Trossachs & Cairngorms) are something special. The islands are aspirational for us — we’ve only managed to check a few off the list (Orkney, Mull, Iona & Skye). Every time I look at booking a place during the spring break the prices scare me off — we could fly to Europe and stay a week for just the price of somewhere to stay on one of the islands. If you’re not constrained by the high/low season (and not scared of bad weather), it is much better. We’re school holidays only for the next 4-5 years (at the least) so it’s always scary-expensive for us. We’ll be in Perthshire for a week next summer for a sport event, visiting new places. We’ll never run out of new places, but there are some that I would quite happily go back to over & over & over. Drop a line (via a FPer) if you are planning to come back & I can point you in the direction of good places to visit & stay.

  30. 30
    cosima says:

    @stinger: Forgot to say, much better class of people at Mar a Lodge O — better dressed, better behaved, more decent, etc etc! Living in a place that is full of folk who understand the idea of a social contract, and support it, is good for the soul. We were in Mar Lodge with a friend visiting from Alaska, and she was in awe, and said in Scotland she feels at peace (the Scotland vs. Alaska thing is something that I always get asked about, and as a born & raised Alaskan, I can say emphatically that Scotland wins).

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