Sunday, September 8, 2013

Highlands and Lakes

I have taken somewhere around 15,436 pictures over these past 3 months when I've been too busy to blog.  I won't post ALL of them because, well, I'm too busy, but here are some highlights and favorite pictures from our two most recent trips.

In August, we spent a week in the Scottish Highlands, which looks like a giant's playground.  Towering grassy mountains with peaks in the clouds and sparkling waterfalls coursing down their faces.  Truly something out of Lord of the Rings.  I kept expecting Frodo to come along, riding a gigantic tree dude.

Gorgeous scenery . . . 

Cool museums . . .

Monument to Bonnie Prince Charles

Jacobite Steam Train crossing the Glenfinnan Viaduct---a scene straight out of Harry Potter!

Keller's vantage point to view the train (I am going to force that boy to walk around with his climbing harness and a helmet)

 Hadrian's Wall

We took a detour through Falkirk to see the birthplace of my dad's grandmother, Jessie Yates, who emigrated to America around 1905 at the age of 16.  She was born in an area called Jawcraig, which is mostly a cluster of beautiful large farms.  The closest village is Slammanan, which has several historical buildings that were there when Jessie was a child. 

 Slamannan school house

 Slamannan Parish Church and cemetery (unfortunately, I was not able to find any grave stones showing family names of any of my ancestors, but this church was listed on some documents as possibly the place of family weddings).

Monument marking the Battle of Falkirk (famous from the Braveheart story)

 Falkirk Wheel--a bit of a touristy attraction, but cool anyway.  

 The scenery around all of the lochs was amazing and serene

 How would you like to live there?
 Or there?
 Random cute-kid photo
 Cairn Gorm Mountain, pre-hike 
(pre-exhaustion might be a better caption)

 Moody tweener avoided his family for the majority of the 2-hour hike
 World's Best Kid Sherpa!

Almost at the top!

 Two hours later . . .a little bacon for their efforts and to lard-load for the last hike to the summit 

At the top of the 6th highest peak in the UK--Cairn Gorm Mountain

 We did it!

View from the restaurant near the summit
 These cool stone bridges were all over the place
 This one is for my brother-in-law and brother---these guys are waiting for you in Scotland ;)
If I had a nickel for every 'sheep stop' we made over the course of the week. . .
 View from our cabin

 Random creepy foggy castle
 Shots from our glass-bottom boat ride on a loch

 Salmon farm

 The kids searched for Nessie at Loch Ness

 Urquhart Castle
 Random cool little stone hut hanging over a river

After giving ourselves a week to recover and go back to work/school. . .

we spent Labor Day weekend in the Lake District with our BFFs and frequent travel accomplices, the Marchinis. 

Marley and I lounged by the fire in the converted horse stables that we rented for the weekend and went on a shopping 'adventure' in the town of Cockermouth. . .

. . .while the rest of our travel posse busied themselves jumping off of cliffs and plunging down waterfalls on a Ghyll Scrambling adventure.

We hiked to, around (and across!) a scenic lake
(love the splashes of red/orange/gold fall leaves)

 Best hike food . . . fresh baguette she filled with bacon and added wild blackberries along the hike :)

We hiked the Cat Bells with most of the pack making it all the way to the top, and a few of us stopping a little more often to rest and enjoy the views

The last day took us on a gorgeous drive through the Yorshire Dales on our way to Forbidden Corner, a super funky estate with cool gardens, interconnected underground rooms and tunnels, crazy sculptures, squirting statues, and all varities of oddities along the way.

Our next big adventures for 2013 are yet to be determined, but possibilities include:  Italy, Brugge (city we missed on our last trip to Belgium), Paris, Tenerife (Canary Islands), Austria, Germany, Switzerland . . .We've got some research to do :)

In the meantime, Dave and three friends are doing a 3-day hike along Hadrian's Wall this month, and 7 of my buds are joining me on a 30k night hike (that's 18+ miles!) in Epping Forest just before Halloween.  Pictures of both hikes to follow . . .