Is it just me or does everyone have 1,500 pictures of their favorite country sitting around doing nothing on their computer? For the coming year, I'll be using one of blogspot's features to post some of my pictures of Scotland in the left side panel.
In 2008, after Blue Bells of Scotland was written, but not yet completely edited, I made a trip to Scotland to visit all the locations in the book. This week's picture is of Castle Urquhart, on what the Scots call the north shore of Loch Ness. To me, on a map, it looks like the west shore, but it's called the north shore.
After researching quite a few of Scotland's approximately 3,000 castles while writing the book, I settled on Urquhart as the model for Niall's home, Castle Glenmirril, partly for the location, which was far enough from Hugh's secret camp and Bannockburn that Niall (or Shawn as it turned out) to be sent on a journey of several days, partly for its location on a loch that needed to be crossed, and partly for its looks.
Urquhart existed in Niall's day, and in fact, it gets a mention in Book Two of the Trilogy, with regards to Edward Longshanks' attack on it in 1296. Niall is just barely old enough to remember that day and the spectacular events that unfolded at Glenmirril in connection with the event.
Most of our two week trip to Scotland was--for Scotland--unusually sunny, but we did get lucky enough, and no, I actually do not speak tongue in cheek! to see Urquhart on this slightly damp and misty day, which you can see in the picture.
The several days spent in this area included the wonderful accommodations at the Loch Ness Backpackers with our wonderful hostess, Wendy, visits to the Eden Court Theatre complete with a tour of all the backstage areas and dressing rooms to see the place Shawn's orchestra performs, walking Niall and Amy's route from Eden Court to the train station, and a five-mile hike through the woods on the south shore of Loch Ness, where Shawn would have hiked with Allene the first night he is sent on his journey.
The tower on the left of the picture is Grant Tower, which was used for the cover of the book.