Posted by: M.J. Bolstad | November 15, 2019

EU Go, Girl! Adventures in Europe: Part # 11

Another wonderful day in Scotland yesterday. I hadn’t forgotten how much I liked it here, but certainly experiencing it again is something else altogether. I’m already feeling a bit like I won’t be able to squeeze everything I want to in to my trip! But I have days to go, and will do what I can, and if I have to come back again … well, that’s hardly a chore, is it?

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A hairy coo, for which the tour company was named.

Yesterday, I took a tour of the Highlands with The Hairy Coo, which I found while googling different tour options. The company wants to make sure everyone who wants to can experience the Highlands, so offers a tips-based tour. I think making travel accessible is marvellous, and the trip itself was wonderful. Our tour guide, Brian (or Brizo, to be distinguished from the other Brian who works for the tour with the same initials!) was great; tours are always better when your guide is a storyteller, and ours certainly was one. He was funny and knowledgable, sharing great stories not only of a historical nature but with a good blend of the modern as well. Also, his music playlist for when he wasn’t regaling us was great too!

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With William Wallace’s sword, which is taller than I am! (I’m 5’3 on a good day.)

But on to the tour: we started our tour to the bridges over the Forth, with a nice stop that was long enough not only for me to take some nice snaps of the morning light, but also to pick up some breakfast, a good latte and a scone with whipped cream (no clotted cream, alas) and jam. Then it was on to the William Wallace Monument. It’s a bit of a climb up to the monument itself, seated at the top of a hill. Then it’s a bit more of a climb if you want to go up the monument: 246 steps up a narrow spiral staircase to the top of the tower. I’m not in great shape even without the lingering cold (though it does improve), nor am I a narrow person, but I climbed Macchu Pichu and up the final leg of the Rainbow Mountain, so I was not backing down from this personal challenge. There were some semi-dicey moments passing people coming down when I was going up – I ducked into window ledges twice on the lower stairs quite comically, but crawling past the nursery school kids on the skinniest bit of stair was another story – but I made it. The views are spectacular and worth every step up plus the somewhat scary trek back down (it’s steep and twisty!), and then some again.

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Doune

After the monument, it was off to Doune, which means Castle, so when called Castle Doune gave me “Moon Moon” meme thoughts. It’s also the castle where they filmed a few  different things you might be familiar with: Monty Python and the Holy Grail, Outlander, and Game of Thrones. That’s right. Doune is also a film set for Game of Thrones; Winterfell, in fact. This was very exciting to me, and I’ll admit I got “Queen in the North! Queen in the North!” on a loop in my head for a bit. The castle was fun to explore, as were the grounds around it, as I had time to walk down to the river behind it. The fall foliage was lovely, especially in the light we managed to have all day yesterday.

 

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A museum of the macabre

From Doune, we stopped in a lovely town called Callander. At the guide’s suggestion, I did a takeaway lunch so I could explore a bit. I had a bridie from a bakery, then wandered the little shops, from an artist’s collective to a craft store, to an antiquities store with a little museum of the macabre in the back that costs only a pound to visit. I went in, of course! There are the death masks of Burke and Hare, a bog head, some voodoo artifacts, different sets of animal bones and more… very interesting collection for sure!

From Callandar, we made some scenic stops along the way, seeing the lochs (river or stream fed) and the one lake in Scotland (no or outflow, so not a loch), including Loch Katrine of Rob Roy fame, the bens (mountains), the beauty in general. Also, Brian bought us a big bag of carrots in Callander, so we got to stop and feed hairy coos, which was awesome. Then, as the sun set and the sky began to darken, we made our way to the Kelpies, large horse head statues that are lit up beautifully at night.

It was an incredible, beautiful and fun day, and I would definitely recommend this tour, and The Hair Coo as a tour company.


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