Friday, 3 April 2009

In the highlands

The drive from England to Scotland provides the traveller with many pleasant changes of scenery. As it is a fairly long journey, it is good to be able to travel with a friend who can take turns with you at the wheel.

A patriotic Scotsman travelling with an English friend may tell him he is going to see, in the Highlands, the finest scenery in the world. This may sound exaggerated, but on arriving in the Highlands most people readily agree that the scenery is indeed magnificent.

The Highlands are, as the name implies, the hilly or mountainous region of the country; they form the greater part of the western half of Scotland north of Glasgow.

On the first night in Scotland a tourist may choose to put up at a hotel in the little town of Callander, which is known as one of "the Gateways to the Highlands". On the following day he can set out to see the various lakes, or rather "lochs", in the neighbourhood, and will be delighted with the wild and romantic aspect of the countryside. When he returns to his hotel he will be glad to eat a "high tea".

This is a meal which, in Scotland and many parts of northern England, takes the place of tea and dinner. It consists of one substantial course, such as one would have at dinner, followed by bread-and-butter, with jam or honey, and some kind of cake or cakes; tea is drunk with the meal, which is taken at about six o'clock in the evening. One has a light supper late in the evening.

The next morning many tourists journey on to the west coast, passing on their way Loch Lomond, one of the largest and most famous of the Scottish lakes. The road twists and turns, dips and climbs, but is not dangerous. The greatest hazard is the black-faced sheep: these animals are as active and impudent as goats, and frequently wander recklessly into the road.

The tourist may also see a herd of long-haired Highland cattle, which look savage but are no more so than ordinary cattle. Eventually the road runs parallel with the sea, along a coastline fringed with little islands and made ragged with rocky bays and the deep inlets that are also called "lochs".