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If you have visited Highlands in the summer, you have probably noticed the narrow stripes in bog, and piles of peat blocks lying around the stripes. I've seen so many of them, especially in Caithness, and I didn't have a clue what it could be used for. The answer is quite logical, but I don't think I would ever think of it.
With the absence of coal and wood, peat was used as an energy source (mainly for heating) in Scotland. Just as coal, peat contains the energy of the dead plants, only it burns faster than coal, providing more heat. The peat is cut in narrow strips (usually in May and June) and stacked in small pyramides to dry during the summer. The deeper the cut is, the densest the peat, which also means it will burn longer and hotter than the peat from the surface. Peat is still cut in some areas, although not nearly as comon as it was a century ago.
You might also like the information that the peat is used in whisky distilleries to create a distinctive smokey flavour.
Written Jan 24, 2012
The highland breed of cattle has a long and distinguished ancestry, not only in its homeland of western Scotland, but also in many far-flung parts of the world. One of Britain's oldest, most distinctive, and best known breeds, with a long, thick, flowing coat of rich hair and majestic sweeping horns, the Highlander has remained largely unchanged over the centuries. Written records go back to the 18th century and the Highland Cattle Herd Book, first published in 1885, lists pedigrees since that time.
It is on the vast areas of poor mountain land with high annual rainfall and bitter winds that Highland Cattle thrive and breed where no other cattle could exist Making the most of poor forage, calving outside and seldom, if ever, housed they make a real economic contribution to hill and upland areas. The breed is exceptionally hardy with a natural and unique ability to convert poor grazing efficiently. They are remarkable for their longevity: many Highland cows continue to breed to ages in excess of eighteen years having borne fifteen calves.
Highland cattle can be very friendly (like the one on the pic) and it is tempting to pet their furry heads. JUST BEWARE OF THEIR HORNS!!!
Updated Dec 16, 2006
If you walk along the shore line at Arisaig you will come to a steep path going uphill leading to the old cemetary and Church of St. Mary's. It was here we met the two cute dogs and the Priest's housekeeper out for a walk. After chatting a while she told us of Alasdair MacMhaighstir known as Am Bard Ainmeil = the great Gaelic Poet who is buried here in the churchyard. We visited the little church to see its lovely but lonely stained glass window and the picture of Our Lady of Kozielsk the little shrine picture was given to the Church by the people of Poland to commemorate the comradship shared between the British and Polish forces in WWll. I'm glad we took the time to chat to a local and learn something new which is not in any guide book.
Interestingly the cattle grid is not for cattle at all but put there to stop the deer from munching all the plants and destoying the old cemetary.
Written Sep 5, 2006
Phone: 01687 450223
I finally got to meet a Highland Cow on the road from Fort Augustus to Glengarry. After driving by and spotting him, we turned the car on a track and drove back a mile or so to say hello to this charming little fellow. He was so tame, he let us stroke his golden locks and seemed so proud of himself. Unlike other cattle who are known as a herd the Highland cattle are known to belong to a fold. They were once called Kyloes, a lowland Scots word taken from Kye meaning cow. I prefer their local name of Hielan Coos. The second picture shows a much bigger Highland Cow this time he is black and not so friendly. He kept stamping the ground as he eyed us from a far, so I wasn't going into the field to get a closed shot! The black one was seen on our journey home far from the Highlands
Updated Sep 3, 2006
The village of Fort Augustus originally got its name from the gaelic language named after a Church dedicated to Cille Chumien = St. Cumimein. After the less famous Jacobite Rebellion of 1715 George ll built a fort here and named it after his son Augustus, ironically his son turned out to be no other than The Duke of Cumberland who crushed the Jacobite rebellion in 1745 at Culloden. He set up his headquarters in Fort Augustas a quarter of a century later. Today Fort Augustus is missed by many as they travel the Great Glen, but it is a very pretty place to stop and shop, enjoy the lovely river views, the quaint housing and the great story of the first concrete construction bridge in the U.K. - the old railway bridge which was dismantled during WWll to turn the iron tracks into ammunition. What a great string of coincidences and history turning back on itself!
Updated Aug 28, 2006
There is a dancing competition as well on every Highland-game and these girls and the jury really takes it all very serious...
...these tradional steps follow very strict rules
It seems to be a great honnor to win these competitions, as you may see the concentration in this girl's face...
...and I did not take a pic of all the participants, crying after having seen the notes they got by the jury
Written Aug 17, 2006
Tug of War is another common competition that you will see on every Highland Game !
Get yourself a schedule of all the highland-games in Scotland, while you are in Edinburg.
and maybe you better ask at the desk, wether your highlandgame of choice is a traditional one or rather a local festivity, that is interesting in a certain way, but rather looks like a school competition...
The most famous Highland Games are the ones from Braemar, where the Queen will mostly be umong the visitors and Blair Atholl.
Written Aug 17, 2006
Highland Games are held mainly during the summer season, and not only locals take part in the competion, but also sportsmen from other countries...
...but most of those have some problems with typical Scottish sports like "Tossing the Caber" and others
This large and heavy piece of wood need NOT TO BE THROWN A BIG DISTANCE, but :
It has to be thrown in a way, that the side you hold has to go up the air, the other part has to touch the ground and the whole wood has to fall over in a straight way, that is as close as possible to 12.00 o'clock on the watch...
...and it is even MUCH MORE COMPLICATED to do...
Written Aug 17, 2006
Kilmuir Museum of Rural Life is a museum just a few Km north of Uig at the Isle of Skye and it shows some of the so called " black houses " - straw-thatched farmouses of the ordinary population without a single window, it just had a low entrance-gate and a chimney , and it was not only dark inside, everything was also covered by a thick layer of soot and your eyes are burning because of the smoke, when entering these houses. The museum shows also plenty of machineries of the local farms .
Flora MacDonald, a national Scottish Heroine is buried nearby and a high-cross shows the place, where she was burried.
I took this pic during another vacation, already with my new motorhome - much smaller and 4x4 drive for the muddy roads of Scotland
Written Aug 17, 2006
Puffins could be found at many places in Scotland, the best places to watch them are Lunga and Handa. Puffins have their characteristic colors only during the summer and will loose these colors in august, when their young ones are big enough to care for themseves.
They might even totally leave the island, according to some infos I heard on TV once.
So when you get there in autumn, you better ask the people selling the tickets for the boat-trips, whether the puffins are still there !!
For pictures like this you will need a special lens like my 5,6 / 400mm APO lens, that is mostly twice as expensive than a good camera. The smallest distance to take pics is 4 meters and only the object will be sharp when you use the lens-opening of 5,6.
It was great fun to see these little birds, walking up and down in front of their living-holes, watched by plenty of people.
They will not take any food, you offer them...
Watch Puffins while they fly and land...it looks great, as long as they are flying, but whenever they are landing it looks so strange, like they still have to practize...
Written Aug 17, 2006
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