O Caledonia! stern and, wild,
Meet nurse for a poetic child!
Land of brown heath and shaggy wood
Land of the mountain and the flood,
Land of my sires! what mortal hand
Can e’er untie the filial band,
That knits me to thy rugged strand!
– Lay of the Last Minstrel, Sir Walter Scott Ever since I can remember, my heart has drifted oft and anon to that rugged, mist-shrouded land known as Scotland, or in antiquity as Caledonia. I spent my childhood pouring over books on Scotland’s history, its legends and battles, clans and peoples. Unlike Sir Walter Scott, I have no claim of heritage or “filial band” to draw me there. My “flaming locks” are thanks to a partially Irish ancestry instead. No, mine is but a child’s romantic obsession with a beautiful country and its rich history. Still, my love for Scotland oft creeps into much of my writing in one form or another. (Sometimes not so subtly.) I am awed by the breathtaking landscape, inspired by the music, thrilled by the battle and history of the highlands, and slightly in love with Scottish brogues—though I have no doubt my attempts to imitate one would sound insulting at best to someone who really knew what they were about. And the best of it all? I’ve actually had the chance to go there. Several years ago now, though it seems like it was only yesterday, my dad and I took a trip to Scotland to celebrate my graduation. We rented a car and drove off into the highlands. Before going, I sat down with a map marking out all of the places I absolutely had to visit. (Touristy, I know.) Some of the sites that made it on my list: Culloden Moor, Bannockburn, Stirling Castle, Edinburgh Castle, the Wallace Monument, and the Isles of Skye and Mull. Other than that, we let the roads guide us, stopping wherever we wished, hiking, visiting castles, and listening to the fabulous accents. The most difficult part of the trip was not accidently speaking in a poor-attempt-at-a Scottish accent where we might be overheard, for fear someone would think we were mocking them! It was the best trip I’ve ever taken, and I dearly hope to go back some day. In the meantime, here are a few of my favorite pictures to whet your appetite as well. A highland road Eileen Donan Castle Crossing from the Isle of Skye to the Mainland Plodda Falls View from the Isle of Skye Trip to Staffa Island to see Fingal’s Cave Mealt Falls and Kilt Rock I could share more pictures—my Scotland trip was one of the few times I actually bothered to remember to pull out my camera—and perhaps I will at a later point, but for now, I think it best to stop there before everyone starts cashing in their bank accounts and booking flights. One day, though, I would love to go back to the “land of brown heath and shaggy wood, land of the mountain and the flood.” Caledonia, stern and wild. Is there a particular country that has laid claim to your heart? If you could visit any place in the world, where would you like to go/have you already gone?
O Caledonia! stern and, wild,