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Adventures of a short vet

Wells, waterfalls & blueberries

UNITED KINGDOM | Tuesday, 31 August 2010 | Views [334]

A native in his natural habitat

A native in his natural habitat

I got up early to take a short walk around the town in search of some islands in the river Neil mentioned the previous day. I didn’t find them…typical. Our first stop was to look for some dolphins in the river, and Graham (one of the Aussies) swore he saw some while the rest of us searched blindly. We then visited a clootie well near Munlochy, which would have completely freaked me out had I stumbled across it without the background story. Clootie wells are places of pilgrimage in Celtic areas consisting of wells or springs with a tree growing beside them, where strips of cloth or rags have been left, usually tied to the branches of the tree as part of a healing ritual. Apparently the belief is that soaking an article of clothing in the well and tying it to one of the trees will draw any illness or weakness out of the owner over time as the clothing rots. The place looked like something out of Blair Witch – especially creepy was the teddy bear strapped to a tree. Shudder.

We stopped at a swinging bridge overlooking Rogle Falls, where Neil taught us to forage in the bushes for blueberries (note to self – avert eyes when a man in a kilt bends down in front of you!), before having lunch at Loch Maree. Unfortunately we weren’t the only creatures having lunch, and before long were picking ticks off our exposed legs in between frantically slapping away the biting midgies.

After stopping at another couple of beautiful lochs (they talk about the ABC’s of Scotland – Another Bloody Castle, they don’t mention how many lochs there are!) and hearing the story of the five sisters that were turned into mountains (a tale I’ve heard from both Maori and Aboriginal cultures, a worldwide phenomenon it seems), we made our last stop at Eilean Donan Castle. This castle was blown to smithereens by the English after Spanish troops holed up in the castle whilst attempting to start another jacobite uprising, and remained as ruins for years until descendants from the original owning family decided to rebuild it (check). They did a pretty good job, even including the peepholes and walkways within the thick castle walls that served as the original security system back in the day.

Finally we made our way over the bridge across the Atlantic (how cool is that!) to the Isle of Skye, where we set up camp in a great little hostel in Kyleakin. It was a perfect evening for sundowners overlooking the loch before dinner of fresh seafood at the opposing pub. There were only 2 pubs about 100m apart, so we chose to play “pub pong”, bouncing between the pubs depending on where the music was better. It worked well.

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