Posted by: Marco | June 14, 2011

We bagged a Munro

That’s what we did today. We bagged a Munro. Many of you are staring blankly at the screen right, now so I’ll explain. In Scotland, a Munro is any mountain over 3000 feet high. Bagging one means reaching the summit. It’s a national pastime and a gentle passion for many Scots. Today, the four of us reached the summit of Ben Lawers, which, at 3983 feet is the 10th tallest mountain in Scotland and the tallest in Perthshire. On the way up we reached the summit of a slightly shorter peak called Beinn Ghlas (3619 feet). So in fact, we bagged two Munros. All told there are 283 Munros in Scotland. I don’t think we have time to bag them all!

But I’m getting ahead of myself. If you try to keep up-to-date with our adventures on this blog, you’ll know that we haven’t been very good lately. Internet access has been pretty spotty or unavailable, so we haven’t been able to keep up our usual blogging pace. We haven’t been doing nothing, however. We’ve been busy. Here’s a quick rundown:

  • London: 3 days of crowded and expensive fun. London Eye, Shakespeare’s Globe, Tower of London, lots of walking around and riding the tube, etc. Worst campsite of the year. Our Pictures HERE!
  • England (Worcestershire): we hiked the Malvern Hills and had supper in the Unicorn Pub, one of the oldest pubs in England (1659), visited the Morgan factory and stayed in a great campsite. Our pictures HERE!
  • England (Liverpool): visited the “Beatles Story” Museum, poked around. Great waterfront! Didn’t stay the night. Our pictures HERE!
  • England (Lake District): this overcrowded but oh-so-lovely part of England is a jewel of bald hills, sheep, lakes, quaint towns and a million tourists. We camped in a lovely, but very crowded campground near Lake Windermere. Our pictures HERE!
  • Scotland (Galloway): in southern Scotland in the Borders area, we visited some old haunts of mine. My grandmother (my dad’s mum) lived in this part of Scotland, so I know it quite well. We toured around and showed the kids the places that mean a lot to me. Our pictures HERE!
  • Scotland (Highlands): we drove north along the bonnie banks of Loch Lomond, through the stunning Glen Coe and into Fort William – most of it in rain. We camped along the shores of Loch Linhe in a wonderful campsite. We saw “The Hogwarts Express” steam train chug past our campsite and then hiked up to the viaduct that figures prominently in a couple of the Harry Potter movies. We hiked beside Ben Nevis and into Steall Falls, and spent a rainy day rock climbing in a fantastic climbing center (the Ice Factor in Kinlochleven).
  • Scotland (Perthshire): how could we visit Scotland without visiting our town’s namesake? This is where we are now. We’ve rented a “self-catering cottage” in the country about 20 minutes north of Perth and the River Tay. We really lucked out as the “cottage” includes a games room with a full-size snooker table and a dart board with electronic time, when in Britain….

A few impressions of our time in the UK:

I’m sure I’m not the first to notice, but….England sure is a populated place! London, especially, was ridiculously crowded. To give you an idea of just how populous England is, take the population of Canada, add the population of New York, then cram the whole bunch into Nova Scotia. Add some double-decker busses and some little sports cars and you get the idea.

The roads in Scotland are really fun to drive. They are windy, narrow (often single lane), lined with stone walls and hedges. Unfortunately, the Scots haven’t invested in them for some time. French roads are in pristine condition, Scots roads need a lot of TLC!

The people of England and Scotland are very friendly and informal folk. We are made to feel instantly at home wherever we go. But, they are out of shape. The Brits are like North-Americans, not Europeans. The French, and most other Europeans, are generally slim and trim. Here, I think the fish and chips and ales have taken their toll.  I think there are fewer smokers here, though.

Scotland is much more wild a place than anywhere else we’ve been. Maybe that’s why we like it so much. Although it is a grim comparison, we haven’t seen so much road-kill since we left Canada. I guess that means there are still animals left to kill here!

We are in our last two weeks of our mini-retirement adventure and we can barely believe it. We still have some adventures to go. We are here in Perthshire for the rest of the week and then we will camp our way south through England until we get to the airport in Gatwick to fly home. See you soon.

Carpe annum!

Marco

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