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TRA 128 Scotland and Wales: Castles, Crags, and Celts




Course Description

Scotland and Wales program will draw interest from among Scots and Welsh descendents, of course, but it will also appeal to anyone interested in history and legend, architecture and landscape, wool and whisky.

When people think of Scotland, perhaps the first words that come to mind are these: castles, lochs, tartans, whiskies, highlands. We'll have nine days full of fulfilled dreams and happy surprises. This is the land of Mary, Queen of Scots, Rob Roy, Flora MacDonald, and William Wallace, of Edinburgh, Skye, Inverness, and Glasgow, of haggis, Nessie, clans, and pipes. Along with at least five carefully selected castles (Edinburgh, Holyrood, Balmoral, Dunvegan, and Stirling), the itinerary takes us to two notorious battlegrounds: Culloden and Glencoe, both of them sites of shocking slaughter and pivotal history. To balance the mood, we also take time for Loch Lomond and Loch Ness, as well as a distillery tour, a tannery visit, a weaving mill, and a yarn dyer. For refinement, we'll attend a play during Glasgow's theatre festival, see the architecture of Charles Rennie Mackintosh, and share a few splendid dinners where we can debrief and relax. Scottish dining has plenty of salmon, venison, pheasant, as we would expect, but there's also a Glasgow restaurant that serves Haggis Pakora!

And as if all that isn't enough, we still have Wales to look forward to—legend, mines, song, the land of Arthur and Merlin, Dylan Thomas, Princess Nest, and Richard Burton. Welsh mining tradition is literally the bedrock of the culture, and we will explore a slate works and a pair of mines as we make our way though six days in Wales. Above ground, we visit Caernarfon, Carew, and Carreg Cennen castles, all of them breathtaking, one of them haunted, one of them Camelot. Our route will take us through three stunning protected landscapes: Snowdonia, Pembrokeshire, and Brecon Beacons. We'll stay in Wales' smallest city (birthplace of the patron saint) and trace two sculpture trails, plus visit St. Govan's, St. Brynach's, and St. Fagan's. All along the way, Wales takes advantage of its extensive coastline and menus are replete with seafood. And don't worry: we'll be "taking a trip up to Abergavenny, hoping the weather is fine."

In the end, after three weeks in these Celtic homelands, we'll have looked out on the North Sea, the Atlantic Ocean, and the Irish Sea, crossed many rivers and lochs, gone uphill and underground, walked in the grounds of eight castles (some in use and some in ruins), heard the music of the land in more ways than one, stayed in little towns and major cities, and still, we will want to come again, see more, stay longer.

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Notes

Accompanying Resource Person: Dr. A Mary Murphy


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