Saturday, April 21, 2007

Extending Our Range to The Trossachs

Entry for 21 April 2007:

Cristina, the daughter of Diane’s Chilean exchange student sister Gloria, arrived a few days ago, having flown in from Paris to stay with us for 2 weeks. She arrived late on Wednesday night, after the last train, so we drove down to Prestwick Airport (Glasgow’s other airport, used by Ryanair and a couple of other budget airlines). We waited for her for 45 minutes and had commenced to seriously worry about her, when she finally appeared, looking somewhat shaken. She had been mercilously grilled for most of that time, apparently because the immigration person decided that she was trying to enter the country in order to work illegally. Once she had wiped the tears away and regained her composure, we drove her back to Glasgow, but not without making a wrong turn and almost ending up in Troon!

This was our first night excursion since February, and we were somewhat nervous about the dealing with unfamiliar road in the dark, but we survived. On returning to Hyndland, I finally discovered my ultimate Hyndland Parking Secret: parking about two blocks away on Hughenden Terrace across from the rugby field. I promised myself to stop stressing out about parking after this!

Cristina is just out of college and has just spent the past 7 months teaching Spanish in Normandy. She is a nice young woman, with something of her mother’s sunny outlook, but she is a long way from home and has taken quickly to her temporary base her with us. Diane has been having fun showing her around Glasgow this week, and she is in daily contact with her boyfriend and family via the Skype phone she brought along. (Nice piece of technology: plugs into the USB port.)

Today, as part of our continuing Saturday Adventure, we decided to venture into the Trossachs National Park. Dave and Elke took us there last September on our first weekend in Scotland, so we figured that we were finally ready to try it on our own.

We decided to take the Motorway to near Stirling before doubling back west on the small 3 digit A-level roads. (It’s interesting how visitors give us occasion to develop our life skills here.) We noted Doune and its castle as worth a serious visit, and headed on to Callander. After a stop at the visitor centre there, we visited the Bracklinn Falls, a dramatic series of waterfalls above the town, tumbling through a series of rock stone edges where the rock strata have been uplifted.

Then we headed on toward Aberfoyle, again passing by another attaction we promised ourselves a return visit to: the Lake of Monteith, with its dramatic island ruin, Inchmahome Priory. At Aberfoyle, we drove up to the Queen Elizabeth Forest Park, picked up a map of the recommended walks, and, at 4:45 began a challenging hike up the ridge behind the visitor centre, relying on the late light already present in plentitude in late April. The most interest part was the steep half hour’s climb up the ridge. This place is right on the highland fault line, which is the geological boundary between lowlands and highlands (the lowlands are the tectonic plate that was forced under the plate that was to its north, which became the highlands. There were a lot of signs pointing out the different geological features, making this a scientifically interesting walk as well as entertaining and good exercise.

Finally, after completing our 4 mile walk, I drove us home on the small road, directly back to Glasgow, making it home in about 45 minutes. We have just expanded the range and nature of our Saturday visits to include hikes in the Trossachs, and are looking forward to many more! Thank you Dave and Elke for the inspiration!

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