The sun came out in Scotland and I drove north to an area called Fort William, the hiking and skiing capital of the country. The drive was breathtaking as I passed bays surrounded by snow-capped mountains. Castles dotted the landscape completing the idyllic picture. I was told that I should take the gondola to the top of Ben Ness, the tallest mountain in Scotland to take in the spectacular views. When I arrived in town I went to the tourist office to buy tickets for the gondola, but as I looked at the map I saw a hike to a waterfall. I went to the information booth and asked how to get to the footpath. The woman took one look at my pretty winter coat and my dress boots, and told me that this was a treacherous hike with many slippery parts. I thanked her for the warning and the directions.
Once again, driving in Scotland proved to be misleading. The drive was supposed to take fifteen minutes, and forty-five later I arrived after much turning around and asking for further directions. I think I have used my reverse gear more this week than I do in a year back home.
On the drive I met one of the locals - a highland cow. These guys are so cute you want to hug them like a teddy bear. This one tried to come right up to me when I took his picture, but his horns kept me back.
It was sunny and bright as I began my walk with my winter coat on, my camera on my shoulder, an umbrella and poncho in my pocket and my pretty pashmina around my neck. The walk was easy, but I was warm in the coat. I hung my beautiful coat on a birch tree and continued. The path became rockier and wetter, and I crossed over streams until I came to the snow. By this time, my boots, which were more like socks on top of two-inch rubber heels, were filled with enough water that I felt like I walked in puddles as my socks squished in the wetness.
As I returned to my car, I was happy to find my coat where I had left it. My feet and jeans were soaked, but it was well worth it for the hike into the wilderness. I picked up my jacket just as the rain began. I opened up my fancy umbrella (it actually has lace on the ends) and continued towards the car. Hail began to fall in large pellets. A group of hikers in winter, weather clothing walked towards me. I must have been a sight to them because I heard them say, "The stupid French. They can't even dress casual for hiking."