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Bill Leslie's Carolina Conversations

Midges & muddy feet

Posted June 29, 2011 10:12 a.m. EDT
Updated June 29, 2011 10:15 a.m. EDT

Scotland is not known for an abundance of sunshine. And even though we picked one of the driest months for a vacation there we still saw plenty of rain. Of course, without the rain you wouldn’t have those gloriously green hills and 30,000 freshwater lakes that make Scotland so inviting. In fact some places are even prettier in the mist and rain – Glencoe, for example in the western Highlands. 

When you take pictures with a camera in Scotland natives call it “popping off.” I popped off a few shots around famous Loch Lomond including a pub sign welcoming travelers with muddy feet. It’s a good thing we water-proofed our hiking boots before traveling to Scotland. A shower can erupt almost any minute it seems and a lot of the trails are clogged with mud. 

One of our favorite hikes was on the Isle of Skye on the west coast. It was a shot straight up the mountain to Trotternish Ridge. No switchbacks here! We encountered a bizarre array of stone formations. The star of the show is a geological gem called The Old Man of Storr. The trip wasn’t without some discomfort. Tiny insects called midges covered my sweaty face by the time I reached the top of the trail. And I wondered why I passed a woman on the way up was wearing mesh protection. I was told that midges “love imported meat.” Their little bites were annoying but fortunately I didn’t suffer any adverse reaction. A veteran hiker told me the midges really start to swarm in late July and August. 

Tomorrow I’ll talk about the castles we visited and why North Carolinians have such a strong connection to Scotland