! After walking through the valley on one side to the car park, we hiked up and over Cow Hill to get back to Fort William. We had a great view of Ben Nevis at the top. We walked along the mossy path through a grassy meadow and turned back to look at the Ben. There was a ring of cloud around Ben, so we couldn't quite see the top. We were told only a few days out of the year it is clear enough to see the top with no cloud cover. The rain had been on and off all day, but it was sunny when we got to the top of Cow Hill. However, it started up again on our way down back into Fort William.
Our hostel wasn't that big, but the common room was hopping with people, and there were no free tables, so Jess and I sat in the front hall reception area. We heard from back in the common room down the hall a guy yell "anyone what to play cards?" Dead silence was the response. Jess and I didn't have to say anything, we just looked at each other, ran into the common room yelling "we'll play!" We spent the rest of the night playing Cheat and Scum with three Scottish guys Nick, Peter, and Simon. Really fun guys, and nice too. Actually, most of the gentlemen we have met in Ireland and Scotland have been really fun and friendly. Hopefully that trend continues. Nick, Peter, and Simon were planning on going fishing the next day. They were going to catch mackerel in the morning, and then use the mackerel as bait to catch sharks later on. The next day we took it a bit easy. We started by walking to a nearby castle that the Comeyn clan built in the 1200's. The Comeyn clan fought for the Scottish crown during the civil wars and after Scotland had fought back the English. The Bruce clan took the crown in the early 1300's, and shortly after this castle was abandoned
. It is pretty well preserved, and offered us some much needed shelter from the pouring rain. We then walked along the Loch back toward Fort William, stopping at the actual old fort on the way. Later, back in the common room while we were eating supper, Jess and I heard this faint noise. "What's that?" Jess said. "It's a car alarm" I said. "No, I think it's bag pipes" replies Jess. Turns out we were both right. Once the car alarm stopped, we could hear clearly the call of pipe coming from the Highland mountain air. I went down the street to see about seven high school-aged kids all standing in a circle playing their parts of the same song. One guy was standing in the middle of the circle holding a stick. When the song was about to end he would hold up the stick and everyone would know when to stop. They were pretty good. Better then a car alarm at least. It started to rain, so I started to make my way back to the hostel. I didn't get but a block away from the pipers when it just started to pour, so I darted under a little gazibo thing to wait it out a bit. The rain started coming down even harder. But to my surprise, over top of the sound of the rain drops, was the tune of the pipers. They were still playing! They take their bagpipe playing seriously in Scotland. Tough kids.
The sun came out the next day just in time for our bus ride out of the Highlands. :( It made for some great views though. Huge green fields with random rocks all over left by past glaciers. The mountains were beautiful. Little streams of water running down the smoothed off mountains from all the rain. Layers of dark and light brown and grey stone cascading into meandering rivers, whilst all being blanketed by a layer of green. I even saw two Highland cows. Very shaggy and unique looking beasts they are. I would have definitely wanted to do some more hiking around here if we had the time. So much to explore. And now we are off to the capital, Edinburgh. Should be good so stay tuned.
In the Scottish Highlands we are now, and they are absolutely amazing! But wet, very wet. We have not been as lucky in Scotland as we were in Ireland, but the sun has come out every once in a while just to remind us it's still there. We are staying in a hostel in the lovely little town of Fort William. The town started out as a military camp, but now it's a main hub for backpackers/hikers/mountaineers. Fort William is really close to the tallest mountain in the UK! Ben Nevis stands at 1344m. Yes I know, tiny compared to our Rockies, but it still looks like a monster from the bottom. Jess and I didn't hike up Ben because the weather sucked and we didn't have the proper equipment, but instead we hiked up Cow Hill, the much smaller mountain just across the valley from Ben Nevis. Fort William is on one side of Cow Hill, and Ben Nevis is on the other. Also at the bottom of Cow Hill on the Ben Nevis side, is the William Wallace car park. The place film crews set up camp to film part of Braveheart