It was just a few weeks after exploring the far reaches of Zermatt on foot that I was headed out of town again, this time to another land whose name begins with “S” but now in the north: after two and a half years, I was going to return to Scotland. I only brought a carry-on with me and didn’t even pack the dSLR; this was going to be a long weekend, and visiting distilleries and catching up with an old friend were on the agenda. Scottish landscapes would have to wait.
Twice during the trip, my buddy asked if I would go back to Scotland. Both times I was pensive but hesitant, unsure what hadn’t been sitting right in the few days I had been there so far. It wasn’t until my penultimate night, watching the sun set en route to my overnight on Islay, that the reason for my unease began to dawn on me.
I’ve never been to the United Kingdom; the closest I’ve come, by which I mean Queen Elizabeth II is its monarch, is Canada. It was thus a bit surprising that my first stop in the UK was Scotland, which in 2014 narrowly avoided voting to separate from the United Kingdom. With no personal preference on the topic myself, I looked forward to the trip for a few reasons: I could try my ear against the Scottish accent; distillery tours were planned; and the landscapes I had seen of Scotland were enchanting, perhaps on a level with those of Norway.