Saturday, May 1, 2010

UK Travels Part 2


Glencoe is infamous as a massacre site. Sounds bloody and awful! On the contrary, it’s a designated scenic area of Ben Nevis (highest mountain in UK, 1344 meters or 4,400 ft, simply known as the “Ben”) and Glencoe, owned by the National Trust of Scotland. Loch Leven, along which I walked from Glencoe to Ballachulish*, is a salt water loch connected to the sea via Loch Linhe, a sea loch. Fort William, known as a garrison as well as gateway town to the isles, is 14 miles north. The glen, a U-shaped valley, was formed by Ice Age glaciation. It is about 16 km (10 miles) long with the valley floor less than 700m (0.4 miles) wide with towering mountains rising sharply from the valley floor to heights of around 900m (3,000 ft). Awesome scenery! I’m surprised we can enjoy the Glencoe car drive on YouTube. The brunch I had at the Glencoe Hotel cost 6.50 Pounds.

Oh, the massacre in February 1692! MacDonald’s clan belated allegiance to the king brought the Campbell clans to the MacDonald’s village with the King’s order to “put all the swords under 70 years of age”. Thirty-seven MacDonalds out of 200 were murdered during the morning raid and the village was destroyed by fire. Sir Walter Scott’s “Rob Roy” dealt and romanticized the similar historic battles and I know the filming took place in Glencoe. Likewise, part of the Harry Potter “the Prisoner of Azkaban” was filmed on location in Glencoe.

*Ballachulish -- an old slate quarry town. I saw gorse flowers in Inteverness and here again in Ballachulish.


Two words, aber, meaning confluence and deen, two rivers don and dee , describe Aberdeen; today’s oil capital of the North, or granite city, because it quarried grey granite, or silver city, because the granite mica sparkles like silver. It is the third most populous (over 200,000) city with a commercial center and sea port. I woke up around 5AM and walked from the hotel all the way to the fish market through the Aberdeen Station, following the map drawn by a pub server on the previous night. I was at the Fish Market at 6:00 AM. The market officially opens at 7:30 AM but I was allowed in to take photos of haddocks and halibuts in thousand of boxes. I was taught the name of longer ones is coley. UK fought fierce cod wars against Iceland from 1958 until 1976 with EEC intervention after Iceland threatened to close a major NATO base in retaliation for Britain’s deployment of naval vessels within the disputed 200 nautical mile (370km) limit. UK conceded and agreed that the British vessels would not fish within the previously disputed area. The UK annual cod fishing was reduced to 50,000 tons. The result was 1500 jobless people in the fishing industry.

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