Greetings from Lochcarron, Scotland

We arrived in Lochcarron two nights ago from Edinburgh. Between driving on the opposing side of the road as the U.S. & Sweden, we also encountered many skinny, windy two-way roads with other drivers who wanted to go much faster than us. Within the last 10 miles, we were down to a one-lane road to be shared with others. Passing ways a.k.a. pull-offs, can be found for one car to wait on the other. But, sometimes we just wince and hold on!

We are staying at The Old Manse Lochside B&B. It is lovely. Trevor and Fiona (the owners) have provided delicious Scottish Breakfasts. Most amazing though is that Steve & I have a view of Slumbay from our bedroom window. Slumbay is at the southern end of Lochcarron and is mentioned in Great-Grandfather Lachlan’s journal. Slumbay is where he enjoyed going as a child to skip stones across the sea water or to throw in stones and watch the widening circles from these tosses. I brought a nice flat stone that I found on my parents’ tombstone a few weeks ago. I decided that it would be the stone that traveled with me to Scotland and would be the stone to be skipped as Lachlan once did.

We introduced ourselves to the local buther, Roddy MacLennan, who was in the midst of business when we popped in. After a 10 minute visit with him, he recommended that we drop in on Roddy MacKenzie down the street. Roddy was the former undertaker in town and seemed to know quite a few people. Our attempt to drop in was not successful, so I wrote a note to Roddy MacKenzie and left it in their maildrop. He called last night and we set a time of 3:30 p.m. today for a visit.

Roddy and his wife Janet invited us in to chat. We discovered as we talked with Roddy that any remaining MacLennan’s in Lochcarron are likely very, very distant relatives. MacKay as well. He and his wife suggested that we pay a visit to the Highlands Archives Center in Inverness, where parish records, birth, death, and marriage records are now kept. The old Lochcarron cemetery may be the site of my great-great-grandfather John MacLennan’s burial, but poor families often were not able to purchase a gravestone. Knowing that they were quite poor, I shall assume that we’ll not find a headstone. However, tomorrow or Thursday we will stop by the cemetery.

Great-great grandfather John MacLennan was born in Middlestrom, Lochcarron. Today we learned that Middlestrom is to the south of Slumbay. So we will make a visit to the area with its ruins in the next day or two. There are also ruins from Strome Castle there.

Tomorrow we will drive to the Isle of Skye. There is a very challenging road, “Path of the Cattle”, which is supposedly the highest road in Scotland. We’ve read of the hairpin curves and very narrow roadway. However, reading also of the magnificent views that await us, we may make the attempt.

Friday we leave for Durness, which is way north in the Highlands. Cape Wrath will be a spot we’ll try to visit. The views of the cliffs that are 920 feet high are said to be outstanding. From Durness we will head south to Fort William along the Caledonian Canal, which was the waterway that great-grandfather Lachlan, his mother Catherine, and a couple of his siblings took on their immigration route. We will spend a couple of nights in Fort William.

We canceled our stay in Ayr as it will push our schedule too much. We will fly by the seats of our pants that last night and hope to find a hotel room near Edinburgh airport for July 6.

Internet access is definitely a luxury right now. The local library in Lochcarron is opened three days a week with limited hours and 30 minutes of internet use each visit. So, for now we wish you all well.

If you need to be in touch via phone, we can be reached on Jeremy’s international phone, which is working in Scotland! It did not work in Sweden so we purchased a phone for that portion of our trip.


Diane & Steve

Greetings from Edinburgh, Scotland!

We arrived in Edinburgh last night after a frenzied time getting through Ryan Air’s baggage weight restrictions. While we think it saved us some money to fly Ryan Air, the verdict is still out. Given all of that, the flight was fine and quite fun to look below at the passing clouds and sea.

I am thrilled to be in the land of my ancestory!!! I look forward with great anticipation to actually walking in the Northern Highlands along the shore of Loch Carron, where my great-grandfather Lachlan MacLennan was. His 112 page journal was photocopied by Steve for our trip. I anticipate walking the area where he walked and relishing in the pages from his journal written of Slumbay and Loch Carron, etc. My cousin Bonnie and her husband Michael did this on their trip to Scotland and I loved the idea.

Today Steve & I took a city bus to Waverly Station in Edinburgh. Then we walked Old Town and New Town, including a self-guided tour of Edinburgh Castle. Today was National Armed Forces Day in Scotland, so we witnessed a parade of the forces, including the traditional Piper’s playing. We walked The Royal Mile, stopping at St. Giles Church and the home of John Knox, who turned Catholicism on its ear in Scotland as part of the Scottish Reformation towards Protestantism. We took a hike toward Arthur’s Seat to take in the view of parts of Edinburgh. The peak was a little too strenous of a hike than we were after today as we’d like to save some hikes for the Highlands as well.

This evening we will dine at the recommended Fisher’s Inn, highly acclaimed by our hosts at the Hotel Ceilidh-Donia.

Now for a little break from the day, we shall rest a bit, change into the dress clothes that we brought, and catch an evening bus back to Waverly Station for a 3-4 block walk to dinner.

Blessings from us to you!


Scotland here we come

Eight minutes on my internet connection to go. This will be quick. We leave for Scotland later today on  Ryan Air. Looks like we may have enough British pounds to hire a taxi for our first stop in Edinburgh. If not, we at least hope they accept Visa. Rain forecast for the next 10 days is calling for rain in Scotland. Perhaps it will only set the stage for a very dramatic landscape. We understand that there are very few trees in the Northern Highlands.

I’ve taken roughly 1400 photos in Sweden. Scotland will likely provide more picturesque opportunities. We will be staying in Edinburgh for two nights, then onto Lochcarron, where my great-grandfather Lachlan McLennan spent part of his childhood. There for 5 days then onto Durness in the very north of the highlights in great-great-grandmother MacKay territory as far as I can tell. Two nights along that rugged coastline with a family that raises Border collies. Then a long day’s drive to Ft. William to stay in a B&B. Bikes are rented in that area so we hope to at least get a bike ride while in Scotland. We are now debating our final night. Originally it was to be in Ayr, but I fear that we’ll be pressing ourselves to much for time, so we may just find a room near the airport in Edinburgh for our trip back to Sweden. One night back in Sweden before we fly back to Chicago.

Okay folks. About out of time on this computer at the hotel. Must run.

Love to all,