So, to mark the occasion, I'm starting a new blog post series today: Friday Foto!
Every Friday, I'll post up a photo from my research pool, some of which are on Flickr, most are hidden somewhere on my MacBook. But now it's time to share them.
So here is the first, one of my favourites. Followers of my blog, and my books, might recognise it. ;-)
Glencoe is my favourite place in Scotland. You can experience all four seasons on a trip along the valley.
Driving up from Rannoch Moor, you see the hills looming dark in the distance. At the entrance, Buachaille Etive Mor bids you a stark welcome. A road goes off to Glen Etive, a beautiful side trip for another day. But on your first visit, drive past the Big Shepherd and head for the narrow opening into the Glencoe range.
As you head through, along the winding road, hills rise high on either side. Trees long gone, they appear bleak even on a rare sunny day. Stop off at the Three Sisters hills, taking in the fresh mountain air (always a breeze blowing), and go for a wander. Make sure you have your hiking gear with you because the weather is prone to changes.
We experienced sunshine, rain, hail, sleet and thick snow during our trips in various seasons. When the clouds hang low over the hill crests, encroaching into the valley, you've come to meet Scotland at its most dramatic.
It's easy to understand why I made the area the setting for my first published book, Highland Arms. A historical romance, Highland Arms is set in 1720 not far from Glencoe. Catriona, the heroine, meets Rory, our Highlander, in an old inn that still nestles in the valley (known as the Clachaig Inn, a place to enjoy wild boar and venison). As she travels through the range, she experiences the dark atmosphere of the then fairly recent massacre of innocent members of the MacIain branch of clan Macdonald by Campbells, a real event that took place in 1692, at the early stages of the subjugation of the 'wild Highlanders'. A touch of that atmosphere still prevails in the barren landscape.
Despite the damp and chill, I could easily live in the small village of Glencoe at the other end of the valley, overlooking Loch Leven and Loch Linnhe at their juncture. Did I mention it's my favourite place in Scotland? Yup, I could easily live there.
No visit to Scotland should miss out this gem.