Hello, Kelli here,
After leaving Norway I flew to Scotland to meet back up with Anna in Glasgow. I didn't see much of Glasgow because I arrived fairly late at night and we left early the next morning to catch the train to Fort William. It was a gorgeous train journey across the highlands with views of the mountains, lakes, and highland cows. The range of scenery in the United Kingdom never ceases to amaze me.
After a lot of city travel Anna and I wanted to get back to nature, so we spent most of this leg of the trip hiking and exploring. After we got settled into our Airbnb in Fort William we took a nice walk by to the river and through some sheep pastures. In the United Kingdom almost every mapped footpath is public property even if it crosses through private land. This means that a lot of walks and hikes cross through sheep pastures. We didn't mind, as it was lamb season and we got to see all of the cute lambs. At the end of our walk we came to the ruins of the 13th century Inverlochy Castle which played a role in the Battle of Inverlochy in 1645.
On our second day in Fort William we set out with the idea that we would do a simple hike through the glen at the base of Ben Nevis. Ben Nevis is the highest peak in the United Kindgom, standing at 4411 feet. However, once we saw Ben Nevis we decided to just do a short hike up to get a better view, and we enjoyed the views so much that we ended up climbing all the way to the half way point at 2235 feet. Having made it that far we were very dissapointed to turn around, but we had passed the snow line and did not have the proper equipment to summit. In the end the beautiful views of the glen and the mountain lochs were worth it; we will have to return some time with more appropriate equipment.
After leaving Fort William we took a train to Mallaig, the ferry crossing point to Isle of Skye. The Isle of Skye is part of Inner Hebrides off the northwest coast of mainland Scotland. The Isle is world famous for its iconic landscapes, mountain ranges, and coastlines. Unfortunately, it is not known for its frequent public transportation, so we had to plan most of our time around infrequent buses.
My favorite part of our time on the Isle of Skye was visiting the Old Man of Storr. The Old Man of Storr is a famous land fomration created as the result of an ancient giant landslide. We hiked around the Storr and were able to see across to the Sound of Raasay. We enjoyed looking across the landscapes, but it was extremely cold up at the top so we didn't spend too long sitting up near the peak.
It took seven hours on the train to get from the Isle of Skye to Edinburgh, but once we got to Edinburgh we were finally able to meet back up with Becca and Dan. We were lucky enough to stay with some of Dan's relatives, and we had a wonderful time talking and joking with them. Dan showed us around Edinburgh on our first day. We climbed up to Calton Hill to get a view out over the city, walked Princes Street and the Royal Mile, and saw Greyfriar's Bobby, a statue of a faithful dog that guarded his owner's grave for fourteen years. My favorite part of the day was visiting The Elephant House, the cafe where J.K. Rowling worked on the first Harry Potter novel before she was famous.
The weather was uncharacteristically beautiful for the U.K. in April, so we spent a lot of the next day outside. We walked a trail along the river to the Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art. I love art museums and galleries, so I found it extremely refreshing to spend time wandering the museum and studying the paintings. The main exhibition was by Jenny Saville, a contemporary oil painter focusing on the female body and larger than life paintings. After leaving the gallery we walked to the picturesque Dean Village. After a long month of travelling, it was nice to have some time to just walk, relax, and talk with friends.
Our last stop before meeting up with the rest of the Nottingham group for a trip around Edinburgh and Northumberland was a visit to the Scottish National Gallery. The gallery showcases works of art from the early Renaissance to the 19th century. I particularly enjoyed the Impressionist and Post-Impressionist section that showcased works by Degas, Monet, and Cezanne. My favorite work was Gustave Courbet's The Wave, a piece I had not heard of before. The colors and texture of the piece brought it to life and it was easy to visualize the movement of the painting.
I thoroughly enjoyed my travels in Italy, Ireland, Norway, and Scotland, and I am so glad to have had the opportunity to travel with my friends and to meet new friends along the way. Stay tuned for a blog on the last leg of spring break with the rest of the Nottingham group!