On the Road is a weekday feature spotlighting reader photo submissions.
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Good Morning All,
This weekday feature is for Juicers who are are on the road, traveling, or just want to share a little bit of their world via stories and pictures. So many of us rise each morning, eager for something beautiful, inspiring, amazing, subtle, of note, and our community delivers – a view into their world, whether they’re far away or close to home – pictures with a story, with context, with meaning, sometimes just beauty. By concentrating travel updates and tips here, it’s easier for all of us to keep up or find them later.
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Have a wonderful day, and enjoy the pictures!
Today, pictures from valued commenter Albatrossity.
A while back my spouse was invited to give a presentation at a meeting in Aberdeen, Scotland. Since Scotland is the land of my forebears, I tagged along and we made a two-week trip of it. We flew into Edinburgh but did not linger there; we headed to the Highlands and then to the Outer Hebrides, then to Orkney before heading to Aberdeen for the main event. After that we headed back down towards Edinburgh, but again stayed mostly out of the city and explored some of the local sights, including the house where my great-grandfather was born prior to emigrating to the US in the middle of the 19th century. Here are a few images from that trip; Scotland is magnificent, but the Hebrides and Orkney are beyond my powers of verbal description.
The Standing Stones of Callanish (Calanais), on Lewis Isle
Taken on 2008-07-23
Isle of Lewis, Outer Hebrides
Scotland (and especially the Outer Hebrides and Orkney) has many Neolithic stone circles and other monuments. This one is estimated to be about 5,000 years old (older than the pyramids of Egypt…). Learn more at https://www.historicenvironment.scot/visit-a-place/places/calanais-standing-stones/
Kittiwakes nesting on a cliff
Taken on 2008-07-24
Isle of Lewis, Outer Hebrides
The northern end of the Isle of Lewis (aka, the Butt of Lewis) has lots of cliffs and lots of nesting seabirds. Here are some Black-legged Kittiwakes canoodling on the Butt of Lewis
The Standing Stones of Stenness
Taken on 2008-07-29
Only four stones (out of an original 10-12) remain in this ancient circle on Orkney, dated to 3100 BC, making it the oldest henge monument in the UK. More at http://www.orkneyjar.com/history/standingstones/index.html
Stone from the Ring of Brodgar, and the adjoining loch
Taken on 2008-07-29
Not too far from Stenness is another, more complete, stone circle, the Ring of Brodgar. Dated to between 2000 and 2500 BC, this site (like the others above) is open to the public. You can walk around the stones and marvel at the skills of the ancient people who brought them here.
Taken on 2008-07-29
Skare Brae is an excavated Neolithic village on the coast of Orkney. The houses are made of stone, the bedframes are made of stone, the furniture (there are shelves and dressers in some of these houses) are made of stone. The Flintstones might not be as fictional as we imagined… More at http://www.orkneyjar.com/history/skarabrae/
Barn and house of my ancestors
Taken on 2008-08-03
In Perthshire, just west of Loch Leven, is an abandoned stone house and barn. This is where my great-grandfather (with whom I share my first and last name) was born in 1834. He and some of his siblings emigrated to America, but the house and barn were still there, waiting for his descendants to show up for a visit
Taken on 2008-08-04
East coast of Scotland, south of Edinburgh, looking out to the North Sea
Sotuheast of Aberdeen is a site that is famous in the history of science (geology and biology). Hutton’s Unconformity is the site where, in 1788, James Hutton found unequivocal proof that the earth is far older than the 500 years calculated by Bishop Ussher. His books influenced Charles Darwin, and helped advance our understanding of the natural world. To get here, you park behind a turnip-processing plant, hike through a couple of sheep pastures, and then head down a grassy (look out for the sheep poo!) 45-degree slope to the rocks below. No lawyers or insurance agents were consulted in the development of this site, and it is definitely worth the time and effort. More at http://www.geowalks.co.uk/isiccar.html
Thank you so much Albatrossity, do send us more when you can.
Travel safely everybody, and do share some stories in the comments, even if you’re joining the conversation late. Many folks confide that they go back and read old threads, one reason these are available on the Quick Links menu.
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Whoa, cool stuff!
Thanks. Amazing. I saw Callinish standing stones forty years ago. Small compared to Stonehenge, but still large, and the setting on Lewis is striking compared to Somerset.
My reaction then was what were they doing putting all that up at the ends of the earth, but from their perspective it wasn’t the ends of the earth. It was just reasonably close to home.
On our next trip to Europe, I’d like to make it to Scotland.
Also really cool that you were able to find your ancestors home. I’d like to do the same for my grandfather’s home in Slovenia, but I’ll settle for the village he came from.
That barn looks like it could use some work. Nice pics.
Great pictures, and thank you for all of the descriptions and information!
Gorgeous photos. There have been some pretty incredible archaeological finds happening near Skara Brae over the past year.
How amazing to be able to locate your great-grandfather’s house!
I spent some time on Orkney and in Dunkeld and the Highlands a couple of decades ago. There are Campbells, Glendinnings, Mackays, and Stuarts on one line of my Dad’s family. It amazed me how much the wild parts of the Highlands felt like the Appalachian landscape of my childhood. After seeing that, I no longer wondered why / how they chose to leave the cities in favor of the hills and wild-ish farms. It must have felt like coming home to them.
Wonderful pictures. Scotland is one of my favorites places, but I haven’t made it to Orkney yet. On the list…
How cool to see your actual ancestral home!
Le Comte de Monte Cristo, fka Edmund Dantes
Nice! Feels like an episode of Outlander…
Fascinating, thank you.
Just beautiful. Have never been to Scotland; love sunnier skies.
But the grey clouds are so atmospheric.
Last night’s photo of the dog encircled by sheep would fit right in here.
Lovely photos — you will have to come back & see how it’s changed in those areas. We were on Orkney in April, took a week’s holiday up north during Little C’s spring break. I loved walking the cliffs near Skara Brae (though was terrified the entire time that our 2 yr old lab would dash off the edge) — it was breathtaking & dramatic, and crazy to be up at the same level as the flying birds nesting in the cliffs. That was my favourite part of our Orkney trip, the rest took place mostly in sideways torrential rain.
There is never enough time to see what you want to see in Scotland, even when you live here. We’ve yet to get to most of the islands. Staying on them requires so much advance planning (and money) — maybe next summer.
My advice for visitors is plan to spend twice as long as you initially think you’ll need to, or see half as much as you are thinking you’d like to, because it takes so very long to see things here. I recently saw an itinerary (online travel thing) about doing the North Coast 500 in a week — it’s not actually 500 miles, and it works out to 60 odd miles a day, but that’s about how you have to budget your distance/time on a trip to Scotland to do it justice.
@Mel: The reason why the Scottish Highlands resemble the Appalachian Mountains is because they are the same mountain chain, born in Pangea and ripped asunder by plate tectonics to end up on opposite sides of the Atlantic (http://www.bgs.ac.uk/research/highlights/2010/ScotlandInIAT.html). Not only did it feel like those Scottish immigrants were coming home, they actually WERE coming home!
Wonderful!! I need to make a pilgrimage to Orkney and the Hebrides.
@Albatrossity: very cool photos, back story, and links for more info. Thanks so much Albatrossity!
@Albatrossity: That’s so cool.
And I love the Appalachian Mountains, and its musical and arts culture.
ETA: Thank you for sharing such gorgeous pictures. I always enjoy them.
Is the stone house even remotely inhabitable? Looks solidly made, with some great fireplaces.
Yay, the Siccar Point angular unconformity!
I’m going to Scotland in November, and I was planning to take pics to share with On the Road. When I saw this I was worried there would be a lot of overlap, but I’m expecting my pics to be much more whisky oriented. Although I am also hoping to see the Northern Lights, sheep-pigs and hairy ginger cows while I’m there.
J R in WV
The Bishop calculated the Earth was about 6000 years old, not the 500 years old you accidently typed. Now, the time of Ussher himself was nearly 500 years ago!
I would love to visit the uncomformity some day, and as many standing stones as I can round up. There are some in Brittany across the channel, that dwarf the English and Scottish circles, tho not with as large stones as used at Stonehenge.
J R in WV
I forgot to say the obvious: your pictures are wonderful, and locating your great-great’s former farm was no doubt fabulous for you and your family. Keep up the great work!!
Thanks again for posting,
PS, Next time be sure to catch the black legs on the cliff-dwelling birds on the Butt of Lewis!! ;-)
@Albatrossity: Yes! My maternal grandfather loved geology. I can still remember the him telling me and my paternal great grandmother that fact, and how thrilled she was!
I have an ancient corner cupboard that came over with them on shipboard in the 1700s, and then travelled by wagon from Virginia to the Appalachians. It’s been passed from mother to daughter or to granddaughter for multiple generations. They must have treasured that cupboard so much to struggle to find the funds to bring it with them, and then to bring such an ungainly piece with them through the wilderness. The story of its origins is lost in time, but it was hand-carved and stands about 8 foot high. The back is carved from an entire tree trunk. I suspect that it might have been a wedding gift, as there is a tiny, lovely heart carved into the back, hidden in one corner, near the wooden plate channels.
@Mel: Would love to see pictures if you care to share them!
@Elizabelle: The house certainly looked solid and inhabitable to me. In fact there were some new window frames and other construction materials stacked on the end of the access road to the house and barn site; we suspected that someone was about to renovate it and hopefully move in. Need to go back there sometime to see if that happened!
Thanks for the comments and questions; it is a pleasure to share these images with an erudite and delightful group of commenters!
You may recall that one of the previous picture sets from me was from a trip to the Northern Plains of the USA. I also managed to write a bit about that, and got it published in the online journal Terrain.org as one of their “Letters to America”. If you are interested in reading more about that trip, here’s the link – https://www.terrain.org/2017/guest-editorial/letter-to-america-rintoul/