In just a month I’ll be on my way to Scotland, land of golf, caber tossing, and Ewan McGregor! My plane tickets are in my possession, and I’m checking out travel guides. And re-reading The Game of Kings, by Dorothy Dunnett.
Not that I will have much time to go wandering by myself. The tour has been exhaustively pre-planned by Music Contact International, the company that handles all of Vermont Public Radio‘s trips. My itinerary goes like this:
- Sept 8 & 9: Flight to Glasgow. Meet tour participants & adjust time zones.
- Sept 10: Glasgow guided tour.
- Sept 11: Travel via Loch Lomond, Rannoch Moor, and Glencoe to Fort William for lunch. In the afternoon, a guided walk on Ben Nevis, Britain’s highest mountain.
- Sept 12: Day trip to the Inner Hebrides islands of Mull & Iona.
- Sept 13: Travel via train & ferry across the Isle of Skye and the Outer Hebrides island of North Uist to Benbecula.
- Sept 14: A nature walk and tour of a tweed weaver’s home on the Isle of Harris. Overnight in Stornoway on the Isle of Lewis.
- Sept 15: A tour of the BBC studios in Stornoway, followed by a motor tour of the island, including visits to some standing stones & Pictish ruins.
- Sept 16: A visit to a Gaelic Arts Center in Port Ness, then a ferry ride back to the mainland to spend the night in Inverness.
- Sept 17: Visits to Cawdor Castle, the Culloden battlefields, and the Neolithic burial sites at the Clava cairns. In the afternoon, a boat cruise of Loch Ness.
- Sept 18: A talk by an environmental historian on the Scottish landscape at Rothiemurchus Estate, followed by a visit to the Glenlivet Distillery. Overnight in Edinburgh.
- Sept 19: Tour of Edinburgh and free time to roam. A special final dinner will start with a presentation on Scottish music & instruments.
- Sept 20: Bus to Glasgow to catch a return flight to the U.S. Whew!
I’ve heard great things about Scotland, and this trip has been planned with great care by the organizers, but the thing I’m looking forward to most is spending time with host Willem Lange. Anyone who listens to VPR probably knows his voice. He’s the crusty fellow who always ends his folksy and thoughtful pieces by saying, “I gotta get back to work.” He’s a great guy, and most importantly, he was a friend of my Dad’s. I think of this trip partly as a tribute to my Dad, and I’ll be raising a whisky glass to him at least once (more likely several times). Slainte!