A missed opportunity to visit England, Scotland, Wales, and Ireland led a Pelham family to pack their bags and take the trip of a lifetime last month.
Janelle Taylor and her daughter Megan Benton visited England and surrounding areas in 2013, when Megan led a student tour. However, Megan’s husband Chris, and sons Ryan and Riley, were not able to go on the 2013 trip and have always wanted to see the sights Megan and Janelle experienced. This year, the extended family, including Janelle, Megan, Chris, Ryan, and Riley, were able to coordinate their schedules and take off on an adventure.
Janelle says she first began planning the trip this past August when she found affordable airfares between Dublin, Ireland, and Atlanta.
“Once these were in place, we began to choose our route using the internet. Then, we found affordable Airbnbs to accommodate all five of us,” explained Janelle.
You can see Tara from here
The family arrived in Dublin on June 2, rented a van, and drove to the Paleolithic sites of Knowth and New Grange. These sites are within an hour’s drive of Dublin, and are the work of Paleolithic farmers. The passage tombs at the two sites were built around 3200 B.C., making them older than Stonehenge in England, or the Great Pyramids of Egypt.
“From this area, we could see “Tara,” an estate made famous in “Gone with the Wind,” said Janelle.
The following day, the five family members crossed the North Channel, from Belfast, Northern Ireland, to Scotland, on a large seagoing ferry. They made their way to Edinburgh and visited sites including the Edinburgh Castle, Sir Walter Scott’s monument, and the Golden Mile.
The Isle of Skye
From Edinburgh, Janelle says the family traveled north to the Isle of Skye, seeing such places as Loch Ness and Urqurhart Castle, a Pict Castle initially, later inhabited by other groups including the famous McDonald Clan and the Jacobites – supportors of King James VII who tried to restore the thrones of both England and Scotland to the Stuart royal family.
“The lay of the land on the way to Skye was mountainous and rocky with springs pouring from the sides of the mountains displaying white ribbons of water running down to a stream at the base,” reports Janelle of their drive through the country. “As we drove further north, the mountains were covered with heather which appeared dark, but the locals said that, as the summer progresses, it will bloom out in a sea of purple. Scottish Broom, however, was already putting on its showy yellow blossoms.
“Roads were actually only one lane wide in many places with pull-offs for an oncoming vehicle. This was coupled with the fact that for Americans, they drive on the wrong side of the road. One Scottish man told me that we in America drive on the right side of the road, but that they drive on the correct side of the road.
“Chris drove these harrowing roads for much of our nearly 2,000 mile trip. The same type of roads were found in Ireland as well. Some of the trip was right along the coast where we saw all kinds of bird life as well as fur seals. Sheep were everywhere throughout Scotland because they can utilize the rocky, mountainous terrain of the Highlands. A lot of woolen clothing is worn, even in June when the temperatures are in the 40s 50s and there are strong breezes, especially near the ocean.
“Again, when we crossed over into Skye, we did so by ferry. These are a way of life in countries separated by bodies of water. Throughout the trip into Scotland we saw many castles, lots of shaggy Highland cattle, and continuous scenery that looks like it should all be in a national park, and some of it was.
Ed. note: This is the first part in a series on the family’s trip through Ireland and Scotland. Please check future issues of the Herald for more on this fascinating adventure.