September 25th 2018
The title of my blog, as you will know, is 'Travels from Kintail.' As the intro to the blog recalls, all the journeys in my life started with the first journey from Kintail, my birthplace. On 20th of September 1958 my parents left their home in Portree, Isle of Skye on a journey to Inverness where I was supposed to be born. In providence I arrived early and was born, safe and well at 1.25pm in the Kintail Lodge Hotel which is at the side of the road not far south of Eilean Donan Castle.
A stressful experience for my parents no doubt! However, having visited or bypassed the spot on and off over the years it is undoubtedly a stunning location in which to be brought into the world. At the edge of Loch Duich, under the Five Sisters of Kintail, the area is hard to match for beauty. The words of an old song spring to mind:
'And I was born, 'neath Scotia's hills, my heart with highland grandeur fills...'
And so it was that sixty years later, I returned to Kintail Lodge Hotel to mark the Big-60 milestone in my life, accompanied with family and a few close friends. This brief blog is an accompaniment to the photos I have loaded up.
On the first day my sister Rachel, brother in law Brian and myself travelled over to Glenelg, but the ferry to Skye was off that day, however we enjoyed covering new territory and visited one of the brochs. The following day was my actual birthday and nephew David, Sophie and long time friend Duncan were added to our party. I had my first visit to Eilean Donan castle (highly recommended) and then took a trip over to the picturesque village of Plockton, stopping off in Drumbuie, where Duncan's grandmother hails from. The landscapes around the whole Kintail area, sky, mountains, hills and water, represent Scottish scenery at its finest, whatever the weather.
In the late afternoon Donald, Lorna, Stewart and Irene arrived up from Glasgow and were joined by close family Iain and Janette from the Macqueen side, who travelled over from Balloan. The birthday was celebrated with a meal in the Kintail Lodge Hotel itself.
I'd like to express my gratitude to all who were able to attend from family and friends and a special thank you to Helen, Tatiana and all the hotel staff who made our stay so pleasant. Due to distance and limited space at the location it was not possible to have had more people attending but hopefully you will enjoy the experience through the photos which accompany the blog.
My cousin Iain McQueen penned a wee poem to mark the occasion. I hope he doesn't mind me replicating it on here.
The Kintail Kid
A car came speeding down from Skye, en route to Inverness,
Donald MacLean the driver was experiencing stress
When they'd reached near Inverinate, just a few miles from the ferry
Grace said, "We can't go further, this bairn is in a hurry."
Said Donald, "Now I know a place I'm sure they'd do us well.
It isn't very far from here, it's called Kintail Hotel."
They made it safely to the inn on that September morn
And so it was in wild Kintail their younger son was born.
The family moved to Glasgow, "the bairn" became a lad
He played a lot of rugby, but was also Rangers mad
He settled into city life, a "Weegie "like the rest
But often he'd remind you, he "was born up in the West!"
In summer when they visited their Inverness-shire roots
He very quickly got involved in countryside pursuits
He learned to shoot clay pigeons, bring sheep up to a shearer
And sister Rachel backed him up on visits to the river.
When days of youth were slipping by and middle age was looming
He thought he'd give up rugby and concentrate on running
He ran so far around the land, o'er many a weary mile
No lassie could catch up with him to drag him to the aisle.
Time marches on relentlessly, the old folks all have gone
But Murdo always finds some time to call in at Balloan
We fair enjoy his visits and all his merry craic
And always when he's leaving, we say, "Now haste ye back."
Now things have come full circle, he's hit the BIG 60
We're gathered in Kintail Hotel for a celebratory "do"
I hope there's nothing badly wrong with anything I've said
And wish him every blessing in the days that lie ahead.
I trust that along with the photos this will give you a flavour of the occasion. The day after my birthday we travelled to Raasay to explore our MacLeod roots in the island. More photos and another blog will follow.
All the best