My flight got in late to Beijing, and I missed my flight out to Bangkok. I’m stuck in Beijing for the night. More details to follow.
The Isle of Skye: Wow! Lots of pretty mountains, lots of pretty coast. On Sunday we went to the state church of Scotland (Presbyterian). In the afternoon different groups of us did a few walks wandering around seeing the surroundings of our lodgings.
Monday we went on a family hike along the coast of one of the island’s peninsulas. We saw dolphins and seals, and sheep and birds. We had fun hiding in the ferns and jumping out and scaring each other. Gabriel had fun herding sheep.
After a late lunch we drove inland to some impressive rock-cliff-things. Seth, Gabriel, Nathanael, and I got out and hiked up to them, the other car returned home.
I have shortchanged the above because I was anticipating the following, I’ll now probably shortchange the following due to the limited battery life of the laptop.
Tuesday Seth, Gabriel, Nathanael, and I hiked into the Cuillins. We hiked seven miles away from most things manmade (excluding things like the trail, and a few boats we saw in a bay). The mountains were amazing, though it would have been nice if the clouds were a little higher so we could see their tops. The lochs were beautiful. Why do lakes on top of mountains look prettier? We ate lunch looking out on an island with a lot of seals lounging on it. We followed a stream with water that was uncannily blue.
The original plan had been to hike a 17 mile loop laid out in a guidebook we’d purchased. As we were making the crossing (called for in the guidebook) from one trail to another over a ridge in a mountain, we realized that due to the combined effects of low clouds/fog, the steepness of the climb, and the total lack of a trail, wisdom dictated that we turn back and retrace our steps.
This decision jumped our total distance from 17 to 23 miles. This meant we were going to get back a little later than anticipated. This meant that our parents, who are pretty good at avoiding needless fretting, were going to have cause to get a little concerned. We decided that if we didn’t have phone service by the time we crossed a certain ridge, Gabe would run the remaining six miles to report on our safety. Gabe arrived at our place of lodging at 11:15. Our family was glad we were okay. We showed up at 12:20, also glad that we were okay. Today I’m sore.
We’re about to take a ferry to Northern Ireland. This probably will not be posted until we’re there.
Yesterday we went into Cullen to visit the Cullen house and estate (part of the setting for Malcolm by George MacDonald). While we were on the estate a woman told us we should see the old kirk (church). When we told the minister of the church that we were there seeing George MacDonald sites she asked, “so you’re here with Mike?” We were a little puzzled. She clarified, “Michael Phillips.”
Michael Phillips has edited a great deal of George MacDonald’s to make them more accessible to the modern reader. His publishing company also publishes unabridged copies of MacDonald’s writings. He also writes his own fiction (some of which Mom and Dad have read).
The minister took our cellphone number and left. We stayed in the church and were given a tour by another lady there. Parts of the church date from the early 1200s.
As we were leaving the church we were met by Mrs. Phillips. Mr. Phillips was out biking. Mrs. Phillips showed us around the outside of Cullen house connecting what we saw with the book. She then offered to walk us down to the coast to a cave mentioned in the book. We had a nice four mile walk with Mrs. Phillips and saw some beautiful coast.
On our return we got to meet Mr. Phillips. He was impressed with our interest in seeing Huntly, Cullen, and other things connected with George MacDonald. We exchanged names, shook hands, took a group picture, and said good bye.
Good surprise. Fun Providence.
We (excluding Mom and Dad) then went to Findlater Castle. Findlater Castle (also mentioned in Malcolm) is an old ruined castle last inhabited in 1600. It sits on a tongue of rock that juts out into the ocean. The base of the castle starts at the top of 60ft cliffs. We were able to climb around and through it. Exploring old ruins is fun!
Yesterday we visited Culloden battlefield, where the English troops crushed the Jacobite uprising of ’45. Following this battle the wearing of the kilt and the owning of bagpipes was outlawed. We learned a lot about the various political feelings flowing through the diverse peoples. I’d be happy to fill you in on some of the history I picked up, but right now I’m moving on.
We also paid a quick visit to Brodie Castle. Some of the ceilings had quite impressive plaster work. The kitchen had two huge ovens and some clever things to set in front of the oven to cook things, or warm things, or keep things hot.
Wednesday we went to Huntly, the birthplace of George MacDonald. We saw his birthplace, his childhood home, his church, and his school. We also saw some buildings that make appearances in some of his fictional works.
We then went to Cullen, the setting for Malcolm (one of my favorite George MacDonald books). It made me want to spend a long time exploring the area, finding things that reminded me of the book. It made me wish I’d read the book more recently so I could place things better.
Nathanael and I decided to walk home from Cullen along the coast. The first two miles were beautiful. The coast was rocky and again made me want to spend time exploring, but there wasn’t a lot of extra time, and I was dressed in flip flops and shorts (not having planned to do a lot of walking). Among other exciting sites, we saw dolphins.
The last mile or so was still pretty, but the walk got less enjoyable. The little narrow shelf between cliffs and sea disappeared so we had to walk along the top of the cliffs. I didn’t know God had invented so many different prickly plants. I had to tread very carefully, and even so, I bled a little. Silly me and my flip flops and shorts.