We started our brief tour of Scotland by staying in Menstrie, a small town near Stirling. We were very kindly hosted here by a new-found Ferguson cousin, Mary, and her husband Mike. The subject of this particular post is our drive with Mary to Appin and the surrounding district in the Argyll Highlands where we met another cousin, Rob and his wife Jeanette, for lunch. For more on the Fergusons during this trip, see our Other tab.
The weather was patchy, sometimes raining and nearly always cloudy, but it didn’t stop us from enjoying the Scottish landscape. The highlands have a much more muted palette of colours than in Ireland, and possibly the dull day was an advantage, as the sun would have washed them out. As it was, we were quite entranced by these subtle colours of the heather, the soil and the trees. This is Spring – what must it look like in Autumn?
Just north of Appin we had lunch at a cafe overlooking the ruins of Castle Stalker which is situated in Loch Linnhe (the photo at the top of this post). Prior to that we had detoured via Port Appin on the same loch where we watched the ferry depart to the scenic island of Lismore.
Passing Loch Awe, we stopped at St Conan’s Kirk, an eccentrically-styled Victorian church with a bizarre mixture of architectural styles from Roman to Norman, with turrets, spires and towers and gargoyles by the score. Inside is the Bruce Chapel where an effigy of Robert the Bruce lies, beneath a window overlooking the loch. Below the effigy you can see a fragment of bone supposedly from the king himself, taken from his tomb in Dunfermline Abbey. Pip’s family lore includes Robert the Bruce as a direct ancestor so this was a special and unexpected find.
Genealogical footnote for the Annan side of the family: Also in St Conan’s is a memorial plaque to the Rev. Farquhar Macrae who was minister here in the early 20th century. Surely, he has to be a relative with a name like that?