The day will come when I will die. So the only matter of consequence before me is what I will do with my allotted time. I can remain on shore, paralyzed with fear, or I can raise my sails and dip and soar in the breeze.--Richard Bode

Monday, July 20, 2015

Glen Coe Scotland

It was raining when I left the beautiful hostel at Invergarry between Loch Ness and Loch Lochy. I rode west along the lakes. Loch Ness and Loch Lochy are in the Great Glen, the wide slash that runs diagonally through Scotland. The Great Glen is just slightly above sea level, and canals and locks were built there many years ago to allow shipping from the Atlantic to the North Sea.

My wife, Patrice, and I rode this way 30 years ago on our bicycles, but I remember us being on the other side of the lakes. My memory has grown rusty I guess, because so many things seem different. For one thing, there is so much more traffic now.

Just south of the Great Glen there is another valley, Glen Coe, where the British king ordered the Jacobite McDonalds and Stuarts who lived there massacred in a surprise attack about 300 years ago. It is a famous event in all the history books.

Until recently, there was a lot of slate mining there. Slate is used mostly for the roofs of houses, but also for blackboards in schools and for pool tables. It was kind of interesting to walk around in the old mine, but then, I like rocks.

The lady at the Glencoe visitor center told me that I should definitely ride up through Glen Coe. It is supposed to be some of the most beautiful scenery in Scotland. She was right.

Fortunately, it stopped raining and I could see a long way up the side valleys.

There were trails and hikers going up them everywhere.

I think in winter it snows a lot up there. No snow now though. I bet the rain washed it all away.

Can you read the sign in this next picture? It says "Danger of Landslides".  I don't think Odysseus and I want one of those.

The Glen finally dumped me out close to Loch Lomond. There she is down there.

I had my GPS (they call it a Navi -- as in navigator -- here) set to take me to the hostel I planned to stay in for the night. At one point, I noticed on my GPS that the hostel was directly across the lake from me. There was no way to get there without going around the south end of the lake. It was about 50 miles around, but it wasn't a waste because I had to go that way anyway.

When I got to the hostel, there was a BMW motorcycle with Nederland license plates. I knew that bike. It was Hank, a school teacher from Holland whom I had met at a hostel just a few nights ago. And here is the hostel, looking cheerful in the sunshine.

I love sunshine. I have seen it so rarely on this summer's trip. And sure enough, when I got up this morning it was raining again. I rained so much that I did something I don't much like to do -- I rode the six lane "Motorway" through Glascow and down to the "Lake District". I knew I would not be able to see anything on the country lanes I normally ride anyway.

So, tonight, I am in a hostel in the "Lake District". This area is one of the most scenic in all of the United Kingdom. If it clears up tomorrow I might stay here and do some hiking. There is a lot to see in this area.

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