Wednesday, January 18, 2023

Scotland II

After we got back on the mainland, we headed north.  The first stop was in Glencoe, site of the infamous Glencoe Massacre in 1692 (this trip was quite a mixture of geography and history)!  With a stop at the 'most photographed castle in Scotland', Castle Eilean Dolan, we ended up on the Isle of Skye for a few days.

The Glencoe Massacre was embedded in the Glorious Revolution of 1688 when James VII of England was kicked out for being Catholic in a country that had been Protestant since the rule of King Henry VIII.  William of Orange, then de facto ruler of The Netherlands and a staunch Protestant, was invited to become the King of England.  He brought the added advantage of being married to Mary, sister of James VII, thus ensuring a continued line of succession.

The massacre itself occurred when a garrison of Campbells being billeted with the local community of MacDonalds, fell on their hosts and slaughtered them - under the shadow of these mountains.

Castle Eilean Dolan has been in the hands of the McRae family since its purchase in 1911.  Over 20 years it was reconstructed and improved for visitor access.  It is now one of the most popular, and picturesque tourist sites in the Highlands.

Following a further drive, with three sleepyheads in the car, we reached the Isle of Skye.  Our first stop was climbing up the rugged trail to the Old Man of Storr, high on the hill behind me.  It's part of the Trotternish Peninsula, which features a 30 mile long landslip, including these cliffs.

What a landscape!

Eventually we found our B&B, with a view like this down over Loch Snizort and out to the Waternish Peninsula.

Over the next two days we explored the island, and I came face-to-face with the historical evidence of the clearances.   By the late 1700s the profit from raising sheep began to outweigh the meagre rents tenants paid on large highland estates, so landlords began to simply evict people whose families had lived there for centuries.  They went to the slums of Glasgow, and they came to North America, with large numbers of Scots settling in what is now Ontario, and North Carolina.  The evidence of abandoned homes is there to see in the rocks of the old foundations.

The story of the clan system, the culture and the Gaelic language that typified the Highlands before the clearances is a long and complex one.  At the other end of the social scale from the evicted tenants was the clan chief, in this case the chief of Clan Macleod, who resided in Dunvegan Castle, with its 42,000 acre estate.  Clan members owed their loyalty to their chief, and were prepared to follow him into battle if called upon.

Although I do have Scottish ancestors (my grandparents were immigrants to Canada), and I have a consuming interest in Scottish history, we were also just tourists enjoying the spectacular scenery of Scotland, and the white coral beaches and blue waters of Skye are indeed beautiful!


  1. gorgeous images, so nice that you were able to visit!! i have always wanted to go, but have not yet!! the last picture is so pretty!!

  2. I recently saw a video of a photographer up in the Glencoe Highlands. I’ll pass the link on just in case you are interested. There’s a lot of talk that wasn’t too interesting, but there were a couple of spots where the guy showed a series of photos.

  3. Spectacular landscapes, makes me wonder what it looked like before the explosion of sheep eliminated virtually all the trees and shrubs. The clearances are a sad and despicable segment of the history of the British Isles, but the U.S. and Canada certainly benefited.

  4. Oh what a wonderful trip. These are fantastic photos. It looks like you had good weather all the time too. Yes, many a Scot has his/her descendents in my ancestry. I love to hear some of the old stories of the clans. And nearby in North Carolina each summer are held the Highland Games. I've seen videos (because the pandemic kind of made that the only way one year). It is a gathering of the clans, and there are wonderful tartans to be well a the games themselves.

  5. It looks fabulous, and your pictures taught me a great deal about the landscape. I have Scottish blood in me, and have always loved the Stewart plaid! Now I want to learn more about the Isle of Skye. :-)

  6. The landscapes and coastal areas are so very beautiful! Thank you for sharing your travels to those of us who don't!

  7. Wonderful photos! Great memories of your trip too.
    My 2X great grandfather arrived in Canada in the mid 1800's so I guess I can assume he was not one of the evicted. Which area in Scotland he originally came from and why he emigrated is still a mystery.

  8. The countryside is spectacular. I have Scottish ancestry which I haven’t been able to find anything about except the name Stewart. A Highlands trip is in order!

    Thank you for doing this series, FG.

  9. Gorgeous shots. I will never see these areas in real life so it is wonderful to see your shots.

  10. Brings back memories of our trip - thanks so much for these. C

  11. It was one of my relatives that went to North Carolina at that time. Family tree shows he bought a small plantation.

  12. Beautiful photographs, the landscape is amazing.

    All the best Jan