I've never really known why the name Glencoe evoked an ephemeral sadness in me. The tenuous links between Protestant ancestors fleeing English tyranny so they could rule over even less fortunate indigenous people at the Southern tip of Africa, perhaps?
Shelley-ann (Shan) and I certainly had a few ancestors amongst that lot, hers Irish Huguenots and my Gran, Molla, certainly claimed to be Presbyterian when it suited her. In recent years I have heard a number of conflicting theories as to how she was remitted (escaped?) to Zimbabwe finally ending up in Durban in Kwa Zulu Natal (KZN). She grew up as May Graham and may actually have been English but cherished the Scottishness of her maiden name. And she was the supreme Royalist from the Saxe-Coburg-Gothas (a.k.a. Windsors), Stuarts, Romanovs to the Reza Pahlavis. The rest of my family were almost entirely descended from dastardly Ungrish and my beloved Grandad, Cecil, was born in what had been the Boer Republic of Vryheid. Shan also had ancestors who were Norwegian missionaries in Northern KZN, too.
Why is all this relevant, you may ask? Maybe it isn't but it is true that a cluster of towns exists in this area of South Africa, with its vast reserves of low grade coal, that owes its names to what I imagined to be Scottish and Northern English coal mining towns. Along with Newcastle and Dundee, Glencoe was one of them.
The first time I saw Glencoe, KZN a vision of slagheaps embedded itself in my memory. A sad-looking place for sure. Then there was also the region's ongoing turmoil between the Zulus, Boers and British. Rorke's Drift and the other battlefields draw tourists from all over the world to this day, despite the slag heaps.
But if it was a beauty Pageant
Glencoe in Scotland, a glacial valley encompassing the River Coe and the eponymous village at the foot of the mountains, would win hands down in the magnificence pageant. Probably not as decisively on the sadness quotient, though: In the area around KZN's Glencoe, over a period of more than 60 years, thousands of Zulus, Boers and British died, not quite in full view of the towering beauty of South Africa's Northern Drakensberg, however.
Equally, pure numbers cannot diminish the symbolism of the tragic massacre that occurred in the Scottish Highlands.
If this sounds a little like a tortuous piece of logic, it is a clumsy attempt to explain the frisson the name "Glencoe" stirs up in me personally and that I mentioned in the introduction to this blog. Effectively, it punches above its weight. I would add that I'm pretty confident of not being alone in this, given the number of towns around the world that share its name.
In fact, we chose to stop at Glencoe for a number of reasons, not the least of which were the magnificent views from Campy during the drive from Buchlyvie, starting out with lush riverside forests and culminating in the mountain passes on the approach to our epic camping site (pictured above).
We had also recently become members of the National Trust for Scotland which was opening its impressive mountain eyrie Visitors Centre while we were there. In the centre there is plenty of info about that part of the Highlands as well as Glencoe itself, from walking and climbing to local history. The centrepiece is a theatre where one can see more vividly, inter alia, the events of the symbolic night of the 13th of February, 1692, in which an estimated 30 members and associates of Clan MacDonald of Glencoe were killed by government forces, apparently for failing to come to heel.
The facts are rather murky and require a deep understanding of the Royalist vs. Jacobite conflict that persisted for more than 50 years and in which alliances shifted continuously between London, Paris, Inverness and the Highlands. My head is spinning as I type. A PhD in this era of Scottish history would be a minimum requirement to grasp the shifting factions and an understanding of why Scots feel so passionate about it to this day.
Scotland narrowly stayed in the UK at the recent independence referendum but don't ask me to bet real Scottish Pounds on the same result following Brexit. A bit more on this subject when we get to Culloden.
And then there were Lochs
Should you have a little flexibility to make the best of touring Scotland, take your time and smell the roses. If you're hoping to add the North Coast 500 to your bucket list, this blog is the wrong place to look. Here's the link and you're on your own. Mind the potholes in/on your Lambo/Ducati. We'll just sit on this bench after a decently relaxing walk down from the campsite and enjoy the view. No selfies allowed ... well, occasionally. If they're relevant to the yarn.
And then there are the possibilities to relax and exercise a wee bit of artistic licence ... a proper museum, a mini-mart that has most things you need for all kinds of everything. Pub and Cafe with proper smelly socks. The joys of taking it slow!
Our leisurely ramblings included, (illustrated from top to bottom above):
And then, of course, there's the sunset on west-facing mountains. Nice touch Glencoe. Au revoir...
Coming up: A bit of a SNAFU and then a lovely island evening
 Note to Jane R: Please correct my #Roaminations if I am wandering too far from verity.
 At that time known as Rhodesia
 An important piece of info when we get to the Viking reunion we were looking forward to at the end of our Scottish wanderings.