Scottish Highlands 1

posted in: Serendipity, Sheep, Travel | 1

The time came to leave Shetland.

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I flew into Aberdeen, rented a car, and met up with Jeni Reid. As I noted in an out-of-sequence post earlier, we went to visit a flock of Valais Blacknose sheep, which were hard to photograph only because they were so friendly.

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We tore ourselves away and kept moving west. We drove a lot of roads that are closed or impassable in the winter. These are the sorts of places where sheep ramble around without fencing. It reminds me a little of parts of the American West, where if you want to keep livestock off your property, you fence them out

Scottish Blackface sheep crossing the road. . . .

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We stayed in a hostel and came across a flyer for what became one of the highlights of the trip: the Knockando Woollen Mill.

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What a treasure! It’s a restored historic site and a fully functioning mill.

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(The shadows across that image are cast by bunting made of rectangles of fabrics of the type produced at the mill over the years.)

There’s a mule spinner to make the yarn. . . .

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Looms to weave fabric (still working after more than a century). . . .

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And machinery for finishing fabric. . . .

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I love the way natural teasels are still in use to brush fabrics, and not just at historic sites.

The mill is such a pleasant place that people from the area come there just as a place to visit. The lovely gardens are created by volunteers. The food in the café is worth the trip all on its own. And the interpretive film shown in a room adjacent to the shop is so good I bought a copy on a USB drive to take home. The Knockando Woollen Mill is a class act, all the way through.

We continued west on increasingly smaller roads, heading for the northwest coast of Scotland.

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The highlands are beautiful in August.

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Yes, it rained. . . .

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. . . but it also sometimes didn’t. The afternoons tended to be clearer than the mornings.

We went to visit Helen Lockhart of Ripplescrafts. We’ve connected through Twitter for quite a while, and after saying we need to meet in person sometime, we finally did. 

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Helen works color magic in her compact and well-organized studio-shed.

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Although, given the weather, she has to be creative about where and how she hangs skeins to dry.

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There were also some inside the house.

The tent arrangement has been the site of some interesting corollary events, like when a wren made her nest inside a skein. After she was done with it, it went on display in the natural history exhibit in a nearby town.

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Because the afternoon sky was bright, we rambled up to a high spot for a look around.

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Lexie chose not to join us.

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Peggy did.

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Sunny and breezy!

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With sheep at the same elevation. (Cheviot.)

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Jeni and I also took an evening walk down to the bay, where she undoubtedly got better photographs than I did, although some of mine aren’t bad.

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Scarp, who is one of the best dogs on the planet, went with us.

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He does not chase sheep.

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Which is a very good thing, because they are everywhere.

Adjacent to the friend’s house where we were staying are both a classic phone booth (which turns out to be a good place for cell phone reception as well as a functioning land line) and a post box.

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So I wrote and mailed a couple of postcards from the top of the world.

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It’s a gorgeous place, and I got quite proficient at driving single-track roads.

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More Scottish highlands to come.

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One Response

  1. Thank you for posting your travelogue! The Highlands are IMHO always beautiful. Even in the rain (what a wonderful excuse to duck into a tea shop and have a nice hot cuppa with a biscuit).

    How fascinating to see teasels being used in finishing! I have a thousand pine cones in my yard – I wonder if the green ones would work?

    I love the sheep photos. Lexie is adorable, even if she is slightly chicken. The shot of the wren’s woolly nest is also adorable. That was obviously a bird with good taste!

    Have you ever considered taking 12 (or more?) of what you consider to be the best of your photos and combining them into a calendar, to help fund your Shetland research?

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