Monday, April 6, 2015

Eilean Donan Castle and the Isle of Skye Day 8 #VisitScotland #goaheadtours #IsleofSkye #1EileanDonan

Thursday March26, 2015
Day 8 of trip began early...the restaurant opened early especially for our tour group. We had a hearty breakfast because we were told it would be a long day. On the coach for 8 a.m. and our journey to Isle of Skye. It was a gray and rainy morning but Ronnie, our tour guide, was being optimistic and saying it made the landscapes more dramatic.

We drove through the Western Highlands and I must say the scenery WAS in fact quite dramatic. Shooting through the bus window wasn't the best but it was my only option.




Our first stop was the Eilean Donan Castle.
Set on an island at the point where three great sea lochs meet, and surrounded by some majestic scenery, it is little wonder that the castle is now one of the most visited and important attractions in the Scottish highlands. First inhabited around the 6th century, the fortified castle was built in the mid 13th century and stood guard over the lands of Kintail. Since then, at least four different versions of the castle have been built and re-built as the feudal history of Scotland unfolded through the centuries. Partially destroyed in a Jacobite uprising in 1719, Eilean Donan lay in ruins for the best part of 200 years until Lieutenant Colonel John MacRae-Gilstrap bought the island in 1911 and proceeded to restore the castle to its former glory. After 20 years of toil and labour the castle was re-opened in 1932.

The Macraes were the "constables" for the Clan Mackenzie and were installed to "watch over the castle." As our guide explained the history of the castle, my ears perked up when he mentioned the Clan Fraser. Again, if you've read my previous blog, you know I'm hooked on the Starz TV series Outlanders. He said there is a saying at the castle: "As long as there is a Macrae inside Eilean Donan there will never be a Fraser outside." Meaning that the Frasers are always welcome in the castle.
No photography is allowed inside the castle but you are free to shoot anywhere outside. James Bond fans may also recognize the castle.

While waiting for our guided tour to begin, I encounter a weary traveler and his companion.

Next we're off to the Isle of Skye.
We made our way across the Skye Bridge.

We're heading to Clan Donald Skye for lunch and then free time around the estate.
From their website: Six interconnecting galleries, each with their own theme, take you through 1500 years of the history and culture of the area once known as the Kingdom of the Isles. This sea kingdom had its own unique culture and language, Gaelic. The MacDonalds - or Clan Donald - were the Lords of the Isles and sit at the heart of the history of Gaeldom.
The site has many ruins and art installations including: 

Armadale Castle
The Clan Donald established itself on Skye in the 15th century, occupying castles at Dunscaith and Knock, both within a few miles of Armadale, and Duntulm Castle at the north end of the island. From the 1650s, the MacDonald chiefs also began to stay at Armadale. From the 1700s onwards, the mansion house at Armadale was used as a dower house (a large home occupied by the widow of a late owner or chief) and then rented out to others.
And a statue to the Skye Terrier


Back on the bus after a long day of exploring we race toward the Skye Bridge. The winds are picking up and sometimes the bridge is closed if the wind force is deemed too much for coaches to cross. We do get over the bridge and we make our back through the Western Highland to Fort William. We stop to take in the views and are rewarded with a beautiful rainbow-remember you cannot have a Rainbow without Rain!
Fort William offers us some great views too.

Before freshening up in out hotel, The Ballachulish Hotel

I take off to investigate The Appin Murder, I heard there was plaque and monument nearby.

The Appin Murder remains the last great Scottish mystery. It was infamous even a century before the celebrated Scottish writer Robert Louis Stevenson turned it into his historical best-seller Kidnapped followed by its sequel Catriona.

Kidnapped has inspired films, there have been countless radio and stage versions and now it is to become one of the most fascinating long-haul walking routes in Europe across the greatest stage of all – Scotland’s most dramatic landscape.

The Appin Murder was the shooting in the back of government agent Colin Campbell of Glenure – the ‘Red Fox’ in Kidnapped. He was assassinated in a ruthless ambush by an unknown hand in the Wood of Lettermore near Ballachulish by the side of Loch Linnhe in Argyll.

The murder took place six years after Prince Charles Edward Stewart’s great adventure to restore the Stewarts to the throne ended in slaughter at Culloden. The clans were smashed and the bitter aftermath for the vanquished Highlanders was humiliation, grinding poverty and smouldering hate. In Appin, the Stewarts watched helplessly as their beloved lands were taken over by their centuries-old sworn enemies – the Campbells. Colin Campbell, laird of the small estate of Glenure, and on the victorious government side, was appointed to set and collect rents from the defeated Stewarts and the Camerons in Callart.

On the afternoon of May 14, 1752, Campbell and three companions made their slow way along Loch Linnhe side. The following day evictions for non-payment of rent among some Stewart tenants were to take place. Appin seethed with resentment and anger. Glenure was the most reviled man in the area.

As they passed through the Wood of Lettermore a single shot suddenly rang from the hillside. Immediately Campbell slumped in the saddle mortally wounded. “Oh, I am dead”, he shouted. “Take care of yourselves. He’s going to shoot you”. Or some such words.

James Stewart was hanged on 8 November 1752 on a specially commissioned gibbet above the narrows at Ballachulish, now near the south entrance to the Ballachulish Bridge. He died protesting his innocence and recited the 35th Psalm before mounting the scaffold. To this day in the Highlands, it remains known as "The Psalm of James of the Glens." A real "who done it?" right near our hotel!

Back into said hotel for another yummy group dinner and more story telling in the Library.

More images: http://photosbynanci.smugmug.com/Scotland-2015/Western-Highlands/Eilean-Donan-Isle-of-Skye

Next up day 9: Glencoe, Loch Lomond and on to Glasgow.

Edinburgh and the Castles of Scotland
Day 8 March 26 Fort William, Eilean Donan Castle, Isle of Skye, Clan Donald Skye, Great Glen
Go Ahead Tours
March 19-30, 2015
Copyright ©2015 Nancy Nutile-McMenemy
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