Skywatch Friday - the skirl of the pipes

It was at about this point in the ascent that we first heard them, and our hearts sank. Well, two of our hearts did at least. I daresay that for my daughter's French exchange partner the climb up Arthur's Seat was enlivened by the sound of bagpipes. For my daughter and myself, climbing the hill was to have been a welcome escape from Edinburgh's background soundtrack: year-round residents sometimes feel beset by bagpipes skirling with greater or lesser degrees of musicality throughout the city centre. And believe me, the lesser variety is not pleasant.

Round about here, we realised that the piping was coming from the very top of the hill, from the little bristling pimple in the shot above. The bristles are people standing on the topmost rocky outcrop of the Seat. Various dips in the terrain conceal a fair bit of ground to be covered before the last push, Everest-like, to the summit. By now we could hear that there was not just one piper, but several. Our Scottish hearts sank further. Not just busking, but group busking.

Only it wasn't. Instead of buskers we found this group of exiled Canadian Scots, piping their hearts out on their Homecoming visit. We sat (because the wind was so strong that we could barely stand upright) and listened to the reels and airs and laments. and felt our curmudgeonly hearts melt.

And talking of gales - note what a practical garment the traditional heavyweight Scottish kilt is. The kilts in the shot above are barely moving in the wind, but the woman at the right was swaying perilously on the edge of the rocks.

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  1. You made me smile! That must have been something. Just trying to imagine all those gents lugging their pipes up the mountain! You all are very determined.

  2. Wow, i so want to go there!

    Love your funny commentary, too!

  3. So strange to see them there. I once saw a parade of bagpipe players practising by a busy highway in Denmark, that was almost as funny. I´m sorry to say this but honestly bagpipes are probably one of the least favourite musical instruments for me. Sorry...

  4. I like the sounds of the bagpipes and especially when it is played in in a huge and wild place, you can hear them from so far ... good surprise after the effort !

  5. Great pictures....wonderful tale!

  6. I never thought about it before reading your post, but it makes sense that you might grow weary of hearing them played over and over. (Especially by those who aren't very talented.) :)

    How nice to find reason to enjoy them again with this group that was celebrating.

    The sky is beautiful!

  7. That story made me smile. A few years ago we had an Australian Aboriginal boy staying and on a visit to Urqhurt Castle we heard a piper playing in the tower. Douell asked what it was he had in his arms and misheard when I said bagpipes and thought I said magpies which Aboriginal boys catch and eat. His eyes lit up at the thought of some home cooking and he was off up the tower like a dose of salts. Thankfully my brother caught him before he releived the piper of his "magpies"

  8. I'd love to visit there one day. Happy SWF!

  9. Linda, I know that you may not always enjoy the sound of the pipes, but for me....they soothe my soul and bring tears to my eyes for a place that I long to be. To listen to them with your eyes closed and be THERE.......thats what I have to do. You are so lucky to be a part of it daily.

  10. I can identify with the bad sound of bagpipes. One time, on a visit to Edinburgh from the USA, my son, aged about 3, heard bagpipes played for the first time. "What's that terrible noise", was his comment. So much for his Scottish heritage!

    All this changed 10 days ago though when I took the same son, now age 13, to a local outdoor performance of Brigadoon. Before the performance we were treated to both Highland Dancing and the skirl of the bagpipes. "I really like the bagpipes", was my son's comment this time. The player was a local young man who competes all over the USA.

    The question is, are North Americans doing a better job of piping than the Scots now?

  11. That must have been an amazing site. I love the clouds, too.
    Thanks for coming by my blog :) I also participate in Orange County Daily Photo if you are interested in checking it out:
    I see you like daily photos sites :)

  12. The wonderful sky and piper -
    that hits to the mark!

  13. Hi Linda,

    It fascinates me that the locals would find the continuous peel of the pipes annoying. As a tourist, there for a microsecond in geologic time it is of course perfectly charming.

    I am leaving for Nova Scotia tomorrow and plan to spend two days around the Highland National Park where many of the said exiled Canadian Highlanders live.

    Once I get the pictures posted, you'll have to let me know if the park was correctly named.



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