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Week 5: My Highland Adventure

Another week has gone by and the Scottish adventures continue. This week I started my internship as a research assistant with the School of Sport here at the University of Stirling. So far, I haven’t done too much, mostly because it’s hard lining up everyone’s schedules. Hopefully though this coming week we will be able to run some trials with cyclists to measure lactate levels. My mentor’s name is Ian Walshe, and he is super nice. He has made sure to introduce me to a lot of people in the department, both professors and students, which had made me feel very comfortable and welcome. I am already starting to feel like part of the team!

This week, me and some other students decided to go into Stirling and do the Ghost Tour. We went and we had a great time. The guide we had was in full costume and character as the old town “torturer”. He was hilarious and all of the stories he told us were very good as well. After walking through the old part of Stirling, he took us up to the cemetery, which was very old and beautiful, not as creepy as I thought it was going to be. But our guide was very knowledgeable and told us not only ghost stories, but also a lot of the history behind them which I really appreciated.

Our Stirling Ghost Walk Tour Guide

This weekend though, I took a guided three day trip of the Scottish highlands. I have to say that this trip was definitely the highlight of my trip (at least so far). There were 16 of us on the tour, and we were all from the International Summer School at the University of Stirling. Our guide’s name was Nory, and he was frankly the best tour guide I have ever had in my life. He was hilarious and told us tons of stories and history about all of the places we went and made it interesting, not a boring history lecture. The first day we drive through the highlands to Glencoe, Fort Williams, and even stopped at the Genfinnan Viaduct, which is better known as the Harry Potter Bridge. It was amazing how beautiful and green everything was, things in Oregon are green, but it is nothing compared to the shade of green in Scotland, it looks almost fake! Going into every valley (or Glen) I expected to see Hogwarts or characters from Lord of the Rings, it was like something out of a fantasy film. It was also really cool because Nory pointed out several places that had been featured in the Harry Potter films, which I really enjoyed being a huge Harry Potter fan myself.

Representing WOU in the highlands!

Me and the Glenfinnan Viaduct (Harry Potter Bridge)

The second day we spent exploring the beautiful Isle of Skye off the coast of mainland Scotland. We first went to the faerie pools, which if you have never seen pictures of, Google them right now. They are these beautiful clear blue pools and waterfalls that you can swim in and walk along. We ate lunch there and waded around in them for a bit. Since it is mountain run off, they were refreshingly cold, but it wasn’t anywhere near as cold as the Oregon Coast so I was fine. After the faerie pools, we headed out and stopped at many places to take pictures of various mountain ranges, kilt rock (which as the name implies it a rock that looks like the pleats on a kilt), and the old man of Storr (which is an interesting rock that is supposedly made by a fairy). The last stop of the day was Faerie Glen, which is where the entrance to the Faerie World in supposed to be. Nory warned us that we better all believe in faeries or we could be dragged into the faerie world where we would be stuck for a whole year until we could get pulled back out again.

Faerie Pools

Faerie Glen

Faerie Glen

The third and last day of our trip started out with us getting the chance to go out onto Loch Carron with a local fisherman to catch Queen’s scallops. It was quite an experience going out onto the Loch. When the catch came up, we all had fun picking through all of the different organisms that had been caught in the net even though we didn’t catch too many scallops. After sorting through it all, the fisherman cooked us some scallops. and it was pretty good even though I am not a big seafood fan. After that, we headed back out on the road and went to Loch Ness and then to Rob Roy MacGregor’s grave to round out our trip. To my disappointment, I did not see Nessie, but that doesn’t mean that she doesn’t exist!

Fishing on Loch Carron and we caught a Sunstar!

Loch Ness

Some pretty awesome highland cows

Well that’s pretty much it for this week’s adventures. As I hope you can tell, I had a fantastic trip seeing more of Scotland. The views alone were well worth the trip. I think that if you ever get the chance to explore the Scottish highlands, you will never regret it. This has been an experience that I know I will treasure for the rest of my life. It was absolutely amazing.

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About Natalie Wallace

Hi, my name is Natalie. I am a junior at Western Oregon University working towards a major in biology and a chemistry minor. I am going abroad this summer to Stirling, Scotland and can't wait to write about all of my adventures!