It had been a number of years since I’d done any traveling, let alone out of the country, so I’d kind of forgotten how much easier it is to sleep in my bed with my pillow. Through the course of the trip, I relearned how important both of those items are. After a good first night’s rest in Glasgow thanks to a reasonably comfy mattress and pillows, we were up early ready for the day’s adventure. The Washburn Alumni Association had provided a fairly detailed overview of each day, however when everything is unfamiliar it’s hard to know what to expect. Monday, day two was our venture into the Highlands which nothing I’d ever seen before prepared me for and I have been to the Grand Canyon.
A little after eight, we were heading out of Glasgow during their morning commute time but as our driver pointed out the traffic coming in was much greater. It was our first real taste of heavy traffic and how unnerving it is the way they move at top speed in those tiny lanes. We crossed the River Clyde and headed northeast on road A82 which I've since discovered is probably the most well known route through the Highlands.
As heavily traveled as A82 is it is still primarily two lanes; two NARROW lanes. Along with cars and lots of tour buses it is also used by timber lorries, aka BIG trucks with BIG logs! The bus drivers call them “mirror busters” because they never slow down and are so close to the bus they break the mirrors right off. Pat (driver) told us smart bus drivers fold their mirrors in when they are on that type of road. Sitting on the side of the bus next to the oncoming traffic lane and seeing one of the lorries coming it was pretty hard not to squirm and flinch. Really. That cheap thrill was introduced then and experienced many times throughout Scotland and Ireland.
The sky was heavily overcast and unlike the day before in Glasgow it did rain off and on. The scenery is so breathtaking that the weather only shows it off in different ways. Our first stop was at Tarbet Pier on the shore of Loch Lomond, my first Loch! It was raining then, which made me happy because I love to take pictures with umbrellas. It was also a very veiled, moody look that fits with an image of Scotland. The mist was definitely obscuring the enormity of the Loch and the surrounding mountains but it was still easy to know we were not in Kansas anymore!
A fair number of switchbacks and climbing before we arrived at The Green Welly, a famous gas and shopping stop. They certainly had the gamut of snacks and drinks as well as a full range of items to catch a tourist's eye including clothes and jewelry. It was not raining there, so Wendy and I were most interested in looking around outside as there were beautiful views and the stop itself had pots of flowers and gardens everywhere. It is in the little village of Tyndrum which sits at the southern edge of Rannoch Moor. Very romantic Gothic novel sounding eh? That type of reading is no longer my cup of tea but a Links button is included below with reading I do find fascinating.
Another unique aspect of the drive was much of the narrow lanes were bordered by a "shoulder" of inches and fully mature trees whose branches brushed the bus as we passed. Even though we were sitting in comfy seats with wifi and usb plug ins, it still felt like a magical adventure through a forest.
Not far from The Green Welly our mouths would literally drop open at our surroundings and remain that way for a very long time. Wonder if I literally drooled?