Updated: May 12
If this planet has a pulse, I felt it reverberate last year through gallant mountains that pose in regal silhouette against the cerulean sky. I stood there in the middle of nowhere, surrounded by snow-capped Scottish Munros rising above the material life that we humans have created for ourselves. The Munros stand sentry to the amaranthine blue loch waters. I heard it all: a wee stream winding its way on a narrow path; a rush of wind reaching my ears, whisking each breath out of sight before the next one could join; and the sound of my steady heartbeat muffled in my ears.
I will never forget my reverie during the most memorable trip of my life to Scotland. I was enrolled there as a student for about a year. Even though it was a long time ago, I can still close my eyes and feel the intense infusion of emotion to which my heart clings. Only God knows for what reasons the memory of Scotland brings a smile to my face, always a perfect antidote to a bad day. The memories have become like an aged oak bench in my soul; a place to sit and revel in my time spent there.
My great adventure to Loch Lomond on an April morning in Glasgow. Most of the time, any event in Glasgow weather is not a pleasant occasion. It was a dreich day, where all a person could see was dull, gray surroundings with hard, steady rain pouring from dark clouds overhead. Yet, through all of that dreariness, Glasgow is still always beautiful. Let’s explore what a dreich day can entail, and, trust me, it is not as gloomy as one may think.
I had set out on foot to capture the distinctive poetic essence of a Glaswegian day under the clouds. There is no better way to begin your day than a walk at Glasgow Necropolis. A Victorian garden cemetery set on a wee hill overlooking St. Mungo’s Museum and Glasgow Cathedral, the site awakens magic. One becomes aware of an earth-spirit kindled to reveal all that is good. The Glasgow Necropolis is well known for its flamboyant gravestones and monuments covering thirty-eight acres. There are around 3,500 monuments ranging from enormous memorials to non-descriptive tombs that yield an ethereal experience. The star monument is dedicated to John Knox resting in peace on the highest point of the graveyard. One can view the winding, bustling streets of Glasgow from this point. Amazingly, with close observation, one may come across burial plots holding different religions inclusively. Guides are available upon request.
Entry fee: Free
Free advice: Wear comfortable shoes. Boots are highly recommended to safeguard yourself from muddy puddles during the rainy days and easy climbing on the top of the hill.
ST. MUNGO’S MUSEUM
Another reason why I chose to begin my day at this medieval, heart-of-the-city site is that one can cover by foot many interesting places situated within a radius of one mile. By the time I had finished taking my magnificent morning stroll at Necropolis, it was already opening time for St. Mungo’s Museum. At first sight, it appears to be a honey-colored, neoclassical castle transporting viewers back to the medieval period. The name was derived from Glasgow patron’s saint who brought Christianity to Scotland in the sixth century. This museum holds the vital role of encouraging interfaith dialogue, and has numerous religious and art items on display. It explores the lives, rituals, and religious practices of people across the world in different eras. If one takes time to read information on exhibit boards, one will come across some mind-blowing practices and stories. With exhibits of Aboriginal art and a lavish bronze statue of Nataraj, Hindu god, this place left me awestruck.
Entry fee: Free
Free advice: Don’t forget to try food at these restaurants nearby Bilson Eleven and Amore Ristorante e Pizzeria.
I remember visiting Glasgow Cathedral after having the mind blowing experience in St. Mungo’s museum. The elegant church spires beautifully complimented the treetops in the surrounding area, reaching up to the pastel blue sky. Visiting this church is a perfect way to travel back in time. Being the oldest cathedral in all of Scotland, this place holds many secrets. It is believed that this cathedral was built on top of St. Kentigern’s grave, and happens to mark the birthplace of Glasgow. There is a tale about the fish and the ring symbol hanging on top of a lamppost representing the Glasgow coats of arms. I could relay the story, but I would rather keep you in suspense!
Just kidding. It is a story about St. Mungo’s retrieval of the priceless diamond ring belonging to Queen Languoreth of Strathclyde from the mouth of a fish in the river Clyde.
Entry fee: Free
These are some other fantastic places in Glasgow to cross off a sightseeing list:
Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum
Gallery of Modern Art
Glasgow School of Art
George Square and the Merchant District
Glasgow Science Centre
Pollock House and Pollock Country Park
Kibble Palace and Glasgow Botanical Garden
Finally, I was there. I reached to my destination that I’ve been longing for. A serene freshwater lake known as Loch Lomond shimmers in the sunlight between the rugged Highlands and the gentler lowlands of Central Scotland. This place of beguiling beauty is located approximately 80 miles from Edinburgh and 33 miles from Glasgow, where remarkable efforts are underway to accomplish a complex task. An attempt to strike a fair balance between conservation, tourism, and rural development objectives, while maintaining the stunning beauty of the lake and its ability to charm visitors, is endeavoring to be successful.
When one visits Loch Lomond for the first time, one notices the rain-kissed ferns swaying beside a gurgling creek that spirals down the Monroe of Ben Lomond, a very popular destination on a gorgeous day. Blooming Mountain avens, heather, and thistles gilding the silver and amaranthine blue water complete the idyllic scene. A lucky adventurer might stumble across a wild deer quenching its thirst in the midst of towering coniferous trees lining the lake.
On my last visit, I remember how the smell of the earth and the quiet solitude stirred my curiosity. I decided to turn the fascinating pages of Scottish history to learn more about Loch Lomond’s intriguing past.
The first inquisitive visitors set foot on land about 5,000 years ago during the Neolithic period, leaving their prints at places including Luss, Balmaha, and Inchlonaig. Followed by the mighty Romans, and then Clan Buchanan, and later, Clan Donald, it currently falls under the county of Dunbartonshire. Efforts to preserve the Tolkienesque qualities of a lake so rich in history seek to maintain an imperative ecological balance, while also allowing respectful leisure activities to take place.
My memories of Glasgow have become like rose blossoms in my heart. I still hold on dearly to my souvenirs and all that I could take with me in my backpack when I returned home. Everything reminds me of the capacity that nature holds to heal, to nurture, and, ultimately, to help us grow inside.
On this harmonious note, let us conclude with a traditional Scottish folk tune published in 1841 by an unknown author. Widely sung at parties and weddings today, the melodious chorus goes like this:
O ye'll tak' the high road, and I'll tak' the low road,
And I'll be in Scotland a'fore ye;
But me and my true love will never meet again,
On the bonnie, bonnie banks o' Loch Lomond.
The travel article "Taking a high road to Glasgow, and beyond" was first published by The Story House. You can check it out here.