I loved Cumbria too. Stayed at a lovely place in Millom in June of '91,
within walking distance (if you didn't mind a hike and getting really soaked)
of a stone circle called, if I remember, Swindon. Ring a bell? Visited
Cornwall in the fall of '94, but it was so wet we saw very little of it...had
to pull off the motorway because the rain was coming down too hard to see the
road. Nice little inn at Polbathic, as I remember.
For some reason I like Nottingham. I guess it's the history of the city,
from the Olde Trip To Jerusalem to the raising of the Royalist Standard, from
Robin Hood and all that to the Lace Centre, the underground tunnels and all
the reomance of the place. Yes, I know it's just an industrial city today,
but it has a flavour all its own. (Of course this has nothing to do with the
fact that I'm also doing fundraising in the U.S. for the Sherwood Forest
Trust which is trying to reclaim the land and replant the forest which once
grew from Worksop to Nottingham.)
And I found Glastonbury a very interesting melange of Old Ways and New Age, a
tourist trap to be sure, but a very nice one to which I'm sure I will return.
(With a lot more money.)
But it was Scotland which stole my heart. Up the motorway which says simply
"The North". (Okay, so we went by sleeper car from Euston Station in London
to Inverness that time, quite an experience in itself. The first time it was
up the motorway, Granada stations just when they were needed.) Inverness, so
much smaller than I had expected, with a 2-track train depot which is almost
completely outdoors. Culloden. The sadness of the place hangs in the air
like a tangible presence, yet it's more than sadness; it's also a feeling of
determination, longing, and...something else I can't quite name.
And Skye! The ferry at Kyle and Lochalsh is probably gone now. The bridge
was supposed to have opened last year. No more Skye Boat. Too bad. The
island is breathtaking in its ruggedness, at least the southern portion,
which is where I stayed. The ragged coastline and the salt smell, the tiny
town of Torskavaig with the light shining just-so in the white-gold of an
October afternoon, the one red telephone booth standing like a modern
monolith in the centre of the town, right next to its one post box, and the
ruins of Dun Skaith where Cuchulainn might well have learned the warrior's
way from Scathach (to get to the top now surely requires a Salmon Leap, for
the drawbridge long ago rotted away and the stones upon which it lay are
loose, treacherous, and only about 4 inches wide...all of these I treasure as
some of my fondest memories of Britain.
And then there were the sheep, scattered around the land like clouds in the
sky, and the one red cow we met on the one-lane
road as another car came from the opposite direction...It's amazing what
bagpipe music from the cassette player of a rental car can do to make a cow
move, especially if it's cranked up loudly enough. As for the other car, it
found a pull out and we were able to get through.
The whole journey between Inverness and Skye was incredible. Everywhere I
snapped the camera was a perfect postcard photo. The colours in fall are
more than can be imagined. Hillsides alive in purples, golds, greens,
But then I'm a Stewart. I suppose I'm prejudiced.