Monday, February 6, 2023

Back to Scotland - the Adventure Cruise!

Our second BIG trip to Scotland was just 10 years ago; the kids were grown up and gone, it was just us two.  And we would both say it was the best adventure of our lives!  It was the first big trip of our retirement and the timing worked out so we could combine it with visiting the Chelsea Flower Show in London, which was spectacular!

We had a few days to put in after riding the fast train up to Glasgow from London.  In fact this was our first holiday where I did not drive a vehicle at all.  In Glasgow we took the opportunity to go on a guided day trip, saying hello to some Highland 'Coos' along the way.

We also stopped at the tiny little village of Lusa on the west shore of Loch Lomond and saw these incredible blue poppies growing in a tiny private garden.

The homeowner was right there, so Mrs. F.G. cornered him and got the story of his garden.  He was very proud of these poppies!

We also stopped in Stirling and went up to the famous castle.  I got this photo of Robert the Bruce and across the valley, the memorial tower to William Wallace, Scotland's two greatest heroes, leading Scotland to victory in the Wars of Independence from 1296-1328.  The Wallace Memorial is a Victorian tower, just below the horizon right in the centre of the picture.

If you want to read some fascinating early Scottish history, pick up one of Nigel Tranter's novels, which cover just about every Scottish king.  I started with Robert the Bruce and never looked back; that's where I developed my love of Scottish history.

And talk about Scottish history!  We boarded a bus in Glasgow to drive to Oban to catch our ship.  Along the way we stopped at Glencoe, one of the most infamous and tragic places in Scotland.  In Feb. 1692 Campbell forces billeted with Macdonald families in the glen, upon receiving orders from the king, fell upon their hosts and killed 30 members of the clan; others fled into the hills and died on the snow-covered mountains.  It was all about swearing an oath to the new king and queen, William and Mary, but it became a symbol for Scottish independence.

We did get to Oban and boarded our ship, excited to begin our cruise.  That's one of the Caledonian MacBrayne ferries that serve all of the Hebrides docked across the harbour.  We set sail out into the Inner Hebrides, down past the mountainous Isles of Mull and Jura to relatively flat Islay (pronounced aisle-aa).

Our ship was a small one compared to most of the larger cruise ships, with only 100 or so passengers.  We could all gather at once in the dining room where we had our first meal and our welcome speech.  It was an Adventure Canada trip, so most passengers were Canadian; they have a very good reputation for adventurous educational trips.  I would whole-heartedly recommend them.

The next morning, having anchored off Islay, we were transferred ashore in dinghies and had to walk some distance to the ruins of Finlaggan, the seat of the Lordship of the Isles in the 13th and 14th centuries, down on that island in the loch.

Finlaggan Castle was really a fortified house and meeting place for the Lords of the Isles rather than a defensive castle.  Recent archeological work has unearthed 16th century graves that are now protected by glass panels.  The history of the spot, where Clan Donald first rose to power, is amazing. 

At this point we felt that our trip was turning out very well indeed!  Much more to come. 


  1. Wonderful pictures! And now you have me curious about Scottish history. I may need to get myself up to speed, considering that there is so much more to come!

  2. Wonderful adventures and great photos! I look forward to the rest of your adventure!

  3. Oh I do envy you that trip. And that you had plenty of energy to walk down and back to the site of Finlaggan Castle! Sounds like a great trrip!

  4. Wonderful and beautiful photos. Scotland is an amazing place with such terrific places to walk.

  5. I am loving this tour of Scotland and thank you for the pronunciation Islay! Such beautiful country!

  6. Another fine travel log. When I tried to play the fiddle some years ago, I am sure there was a tune with Oban in the title, but of course I don't recall anything else about it.

  7. Thanks for the recommendations of books - I'll have to look for them at my local library.
    The photos are terrific and serve to increase my interest in travelling to my great-great grandfather's birth place!

  8. oh this is so wonderful, beautiful images and such a happy fg. and how fun to see mrs. fg, i don't think i have ever seen a picture of that awesome woman!! i have never taken a cruise, i am so afraid of getting sea sick!!

  9. Such lovely travel memories! Scotland is a fine-looking place!

  10. Wonderful memories of this trip.
    Lovely photographs you've shared, I look forward to seeing and reading more :)

    All the best Jan

  11. I recognised that Highland Coo and I think it moved to Ontario and is living just down the road from us now:))

  12. John of Stargoose and Hanglands directed me here, since we are considering a trip to Scotland this fall. Your posts are a great intro. Thanks for sharing your adventure!