When Bonnie Prince Charlie arrived in Scotland from France, he came to the area of Glenfinnan. Here he rallied the troops for the Jacobite uprising of 1745. Later, when his defeat at Culloden, he came back to Glenfinnan to leave the country. The memorial marks the spot where he left.
The Glenfinnan viaduct can be seen from the back of the visitor’s center – the viaduct that was used in the Harry Potter movie for the Hogwart Express.
We continued up the rainy highway to Glenfinnan where I saw three very different sites.
1. The Glenfinnan Memorial
2. The Hogwart Express Bridge
3. An European Robin
I’ll start with the robin. Could I just say that the European Robin is one of the cutest birds I’ve ever seen. (I don’t think “cute” is a professional way to describe a bird, but this bird was CUTE!) Tinier than our robins, he was the size of a chickadee. His red breast is also more orangy/red and therefore brighter than the robins we’re used to.
Actually, according to my brother and to something I’ve read, the two birds aren’t related. The only similarity is the red breast. When Europeans came to the New World and saw a bird with a red breast, they named it “robin.” Actually our robin is a type of thrush and the European robin is a flycatcher.
A moment I wished I had my telephoto lens, but alas … (He’s a little blurry because I took the picture from a distance and then cropped it to get him as big as I could.)
Scotland has a blue and white flag – a white X on a blue background. One article I read said the background was Pantone 300 which I thought was interesting since we deal with Pantone colors at work. (Pantone is the international color coding system.)
Make that one of two flags. The blue flag is called St. Andrews flag or the Saltire. This is the national flag and the one flown from government buildings. (I would think it is also the easiest one to draw if you’re doing a kids’ craft about Scottish flags.) If you look at the Union Jack – you will see that it is made up of the Scottish and English flags.
According to legend, St. Andrew (as in disciple) was crucified on an x-shaped cross and since St. Andrew is the patron saint of Scotland, their flag honors him. I read at least three background legends which are too detailed and too similar to explain – but if you’re interested, they’re out there.
Scotland also has a red and yellow flag. This is called The Royal Flag and is used by kings and queens and other sundry royalty. This is also the flag waved at sporting events.
“Nothing of which we have any knowledge or record has ever been done by
mortal men which surpasses the splendor and daring of their feats of arms.”(Winston Churchill in regard to the Commandos)
On down the rainy road we drove to the village of Spean Bridge.
In the summer of 1940, the British forces were at their lowest point and threats of unparalleled attacks caused even greater anxiety. Seeing that, Winston Churchill initiated the development of an elite force which British servicemen, the Royal Marines and members of the Allied forces joined on a volunteer basis. Churchill felt that by initiating a group of elite soldiers, he could boost the country’s morale.
Only those completing the strenuous course could wear the coveted Green Beret. But within weeks, the soldiers were fighting in every area of battle and with such skill, that enemies were intimidated and their fellow soldiers felt protected. By the end of the war, the Commandos had won many honors, but they also lost 1,700 members in death.
The memorial was built in 1952 and is a popular tourist spot not only because of what it stands for, but because the statue is facing Ben Nevis – the highest mountain in the British Isles. However, anytime we were near it, the peak was lost in the clouds. (And as you can see, the day wasn’t getting any brighter.)
(SCOTLAND FACT: Scotland was used for military training during World War II because it was remote and had a lot of land on which to practice manuevers.)
Oh, and a small-world fact (for readers who live near me) – the man (with the white hair) walking up to the statue designed the swimming pool at Mooseheart.
Somewhere in my rainy, Fourth of July pictures, I believe we passed The Five Sisters of Kintail. And since there are mountains in this picture, I am guessing this is the five-sister picture.
However, I don’t know for sure, because suddenly (according to my notes) I found myself multi-tasking. See, Anne got us singing patriotic songs in honor of the Fourth (July, not the Firth). Alas, this was not a bus that seemed to enjoy singing all that much and when we did finally get going on a song, seemed that the back of the bus was singing a different song than the front of the bus (that’s the people on the bus, not the bus itself) – so at one time there was an interesting medley of America the Beautiful and This Land Is Your Land.
Also, at this point in my detailed notes, I discovered that one of the fellow tour members was a curriculum specialist for the Dallas School System and I started interviewing her. So there is an interesting mix of Sisters-of-Kintail-biggest-challenge-for-sixth-grader facts – all to the tune of Yankee Doodle.
So, you’ll have to trust me about those mountains.
The Five Sisters of Kintail are Munro Mountain Peaks. (A Munro is a Scottish mountain over 3,000 feet high.)
See, once upon a time (so it’s said), there were seven Kintail sisters. Two brothers sailed into Loch Duich from some faraway land and fell madly in love with the younger two sisters. Dad Kintail was a little upset that they chose the youngest daughters instead of the older ones and refused to allow the brothers to marry. But the brothers solemnly promised that they had five other brothers at home. They would take their new wives to their own country and send back the other five brothers. The father agreed. The two brothers married the sisters and left town … and were never heard from again. The five sisters waited and waited and waited … and finally turned into stone. Their feet ended up in the loch and their heads in the clouds.