June 16-17, We departed Knoxville via DL-663, at 4:15 PM
arrived in Atlanta at 5:47 PM. Departed Atlanta via DL-64 at 8:35 PM arrived
in Manchester, UK at 8:45 on June 17. The flight was very smooth and ahead
of time. But, neither of us could get any sleep on the airplane (we are
jealous of the business class passengers at this time), we got our luggage
and cleared customs very quickly, then Hertz took more than an hour to get
us our reserved car and we finally arrived at the Marriott around noon UK
time. We tried a very unsatisfactory lunch at the Marriott Pub and went up
to our room for a nap to recover from the jet lag. The evening went a lot
better as we walked around a nearby village and had a great Italian meal. We
went back to our room early and cleaned up then off to sleep.
Tuesday, June 18, we departed Manchester in our Vauxhall Omega
on our way to Scotland. It took me an hour to find my way onto M56 and M60
to start our departure from Manchester. This was my first experience driving
on the wrong side of the road from the wrong side of a car; we were lucky I
didn't have an accident. It finally sorted me out and we were off. We
finally found M6 and were on our way out of town. M6 goes north past
Preston, Lancaster and Carlisle before departing England and into Scotland.
We stopped for lunch at the Steel Bridge Inn on the River Esk. Lunch was
excellent with Haddock, chips and of course peas.
After lunch we crossed into Scotland and stopped at Gretna to look for
MacLean Tartan at the Edinburgh outlet store, no luck here. We traveled A76
past Dumfries to Crocketford and then turned onto A712 headed for New
Galloway. At New Galloway we turned back north on A713 to Dalmelington then
back west on B741 to Crosshill (we thought).
To digress for a moment, the road numbering system in the UK describes the
general type of road. M roads (M6 or M60) are motorways similar to our
interstate system. The A roads (A6) are generally good roads with single
digit roads being best down to 3 digit (A713) being tolerable roads. The B
roads are a whole other story! B roads with 3 digits (B741) are very narrow
sometimes single-track roads and B with 4 digits (B7045) are miserable
single track roads with an occasional pass by. I tell you all of this to
explain why it took us nearly three hours to go the last 30 miles of our
trip to Calzean Castle.
On the positive side the trip through these coastal mountains is beautiful,
including rustic sheep farms, hedgerows, rock fences, beautiful mountains
and forestland. And Culzean is an incredible place to stay. After we were
shown to the Adams Suite and allowed time to unpack and refresh ourselves we
were greeted by the General Manager, Mr.-------------. John gave us a
history of the castle and the American connections to the castle's history.
We also were joined by Mr. John ------------ who owns a Castle Hotel in
Edinburgh (he pronounced it as Edinboro). After a nice visit we were lead to
the dining room and fed a multi-course gourmet meal.
Wednesday, June 19, we departed Calzean by way of A719 through
Ayre (fill in about Ayre here) and Prestwick. North of Prestwick we turned
onto A77 and drove to M8 on south side of Glasgow and proceeded to the xxxx
bridge (with one minor misstep) and joined A82 for the trip up to and around
Loch Lomond. Loch Lomond, is as pretty as the songs and poetry written about
it. We proceeded north along the Loch toward Crianlarich, and the
countryside looked more and more like Alaska (especially around Anchorage).
We turned west at Crianlarich, and drove through more beautiful countryside
to Oban. Oban is a lovely port town and is called the gateway to the
Hebrides Islands. We did a little Tartan shopping in Oban then headed to our
Bed and Breakfast at Lerags House, south of Oban on A816. The proprietors of
Lerags house are wonderful people and tried very hard to make our stay
enjoyable. We had an excellent dinner.
Thursday, June 20, we ate breakfast and then drove back into
Oban. We found a lot of the Tartan we were looking for at Chalmers of Oban,
had a marginal lunch and caught our ferry to Mull. The trip to Mull is
beautiful and very reminiscent of Alaska (around Seward). We arrived at
Craignure on Mull and drove south to the Duarte Castle. **** Insert story of
Duarte and the Mull MacLeans ****. After touring the castle we drove to
and found our hotel the Ulva House. We enjoyed an incredible dinner and
visited with the other MacLeans staying in the hotel. After dinner we
attended a lecture on the people of Mull and their history, especially the
MacLeans and MacClaines.
Friday, June 21, we toured the town of Tobermorey in the car
(about five minutes to see it all) and drove back down to the Duarte Castle,
to try and buy out the gift shop. When we returned to Tobermorey, we walked
around town and checked out the MacLean office in Aros Hall. While I was
leaned up against a fence in front of the hall, Ed, Marcia and Rhonda Sabol
(MacSabol?) drove up in their van. We enjoyed a nice visit, talked
genealogy, especially as associated with the Clan, then went to our hotels
and prepared for the Grand Ball. The Clan Grand Ball was held in a Marquee
(tent) on a schoolyard in Tobermorey.
During the evening, Lord Lachlin MacLean, Chieftain of the MacLean Clan
visited with the people at the ball and several of us took pictures with
Lord Lachlin. He is very friendly and wonderful to talk with. We met the
Sabols at the Ball and had a great time visiting, dancing, watching the
dancers and listening to the music. Most of the dancing reminded us of
square dancing and some modern country line dancing -- Looks like we copied
a lot of it from the Scots. At the end of the Ball they held a raffle and
Ron won a walking stick with an Antler top including the Duarte Crest. Lady
Mary MacLean presented the prize.
Saturday, June 22, the Sabols picked us up in Tobermorey and
we all adjourned to the Gathering at Duarte Castle. Eight hundred MacLeans,
plus families were on the Isle of Mull and another two hundred came over on
the ferry from Oban, for the gathering. MacLeans came to the Gathering from
all over the world. The whole experience is a thrill beyond description. We
were entertained all afternoon by pipers, dancers and even a mock battle
between the Campbells and MacLeans. At 4:00 we all lined up in front of
Duarte for a group picture and then followed the pipers up to greet the
Chieftain, Lord Lachlin. Lord Lachlin, presented several awards, spoke to
the gathering and dismissed us until the next gathering in five years.
After the Gathering, the Sabols drove us down to Lochbuie and we walked
back into the Moy Castle, home of the Lochbuie McClaines. The drive was
beautiful through mountains, beside lochs, streams and lovely farms. After
touring the area around Castle Moy we returned to Tobermorey and had dinner
together in a local pub. We finished the evening by going to the Chief's
Grand Ceilidh (party) returned to the hotel and packed for the next leg of our
Sunday, June 23, after breakfast we drove to the ferry and
crossed over to Oban. From Oban, we drove north on A85, A828 and A82 to Fort
Williams. In route we stopped for lunch at the Ballachulish Hotel on the
inlet to Loch Levin.
From Fort Williams we drove through the Scottish
Highlands and along Loch Ness to Inverness and the
Bunchrew House Hotel.
Monday, June 24, we ate another wonderful breakfast, packed
the car and drove to Inverness. In Inverness we joined A9 and drove south
through the Grampion Mountains to Perth. Near Inverness several of the
mountains still had snow on the sides from winter. Again these mountains are
very reminiscent of Alaska. One major difference between Scotland and the US
is the Heather that covers all these Scottish hills. We were a little late
for the blooms but, there were some at the higher elevations and they are
beautiful. In Perth we connected with M90 to continue our journey south to
Edinburgh (locals pronounce it Edinborough). Getting around/through
Edinburgh turned out to be a mess, but we finally made it to the Dalmahoy
Marriott out west on A71. Our experience today convinced us to use busses
and cabs to get around in Edinburgh.
Tuesday, June 25, we took a little black cab to the Edinburgh
Castle and toured the Castle. Of course we took lots of pictures and then
spent the day shopping and site seeing on the Royal Mile and Princess
Street. Mary Jo spent way too much money, but got some very unique jewelry
items. I found a gift for Tom MacHopkins at Jenners. The shopping and site
seeing is not on a par with London, but certainly is very pleasant and
unique to this area.
Wednesday, June 26, we departed the Dalmahoy Hotel on A71 and
drove south on M74 south of Glasgow, M6, M61, M60 and M56 to our exit at the
Manchester Marriot. This part of Manchester is difficult to drive in and we
missed the turn off and had to go 5 miles beyond to turn around and proceed
back to the hotel. After checking in we took the car back to the airport to
check it in and Hertz was closed at 3:00 in the afternoon (at a major
airport), so we passed the keys and paperwork through the office door and
now hope they bill us correctly! After a wild Middle Eastern cab ride back
to the hotel we rested for dinner – by far the best meal on during this trip
– in the hotel, we aren't going out again until time to leave!
Thursday, June 27, we took the motel shuttle to the airport
and enjoyed an easy trip through customs and boarded our flight to the US of
A. The trip through immigration and customs in Atlanta took about five
minutes. Everything went great until we tried to leave Atlanta, for
Knoxville! In the first place we had a scheduled seven hour layover, but it
went down hill when our plane was supposed to depart. Atlanta suffered a
massive thunderstorm that closed the airport for over an hour (one aircraft
at the gate was struck by lightning and they had to unload it and transfer
to another airplane). We were shuffled around to 4 different departure gates
(in different concourses, of course!) before we finally boarded an airplane.
Before we could board we had to wait for the stewardesses to come in on
another flight. After taxiing out to the runway we waited another hour for
the aircraft in front of us to depart and finally got to Knoxville (a 25
minute flight) at 1:30 AM. We didn't get our baggage and get home until 2:30
AM (eleven hours after arriving in Atlanta from Manchester). To put this in
perspective it is a three and a half hour drive from Atlanta to our home.