A Rock and Roll Drive Through Scottish Countryside
If you’re old enough to remember when Paul McCartney and Wings took us out of 1977 and into 1978 with a nine week stay at the top of the British charts with ‘Mull of Kintyre’ then nowadays you’re probably more inclined to spend your days touring beautiful countryside than following bands around. We did however think that Scotland’s rock and roll countryside history would make for an amazing trip up its Western coast. Scotland’s cities have given the world some legendary acts but plotting a tour of the country via these four spots will give you the opportunity to experience some of the most beautiful scenery on Earth. There are no corporate gift shops to celebrate each location’s place in musical history but a true pilgrimage shouldn’t need one. Just being there is enough to tell your friends. And you can always capture it, like so much of the journeys, on camera.
Paul and Linda McCartney perform live as ‘Wings’
Photo via Wikimedia
Mull of Kintyre
From Glasgow drive down to Saltcoats and take the Ardrossan Ferry to Campbeltown at the heart of the Kintyre peninsula. In Campbeltown you’ll find a small peace garden with a statue of the late Linda McCartney cuddling a lamb. You can’t get into Sir Paul’s private estate, High Park, where he jokingly claims to have been inspired to write The Long and Winding Road but you can enjoy the same sea mists and views he wrote of in ‘Mull of Kintyre’ and you can drive on knowing you’ve been to the same place McCartney retired to when John Lennon told him he was breaking up The Beatles.
From Campbeltown take the A83 to Kennacraig and board the ferry to Port Askaig, Jura. Jura is best known for being the final writing place of George Orwell, who spent the last three years of his life writing his epic 1984 there. It was here that novelty pop cum rave pranksters The KLF chose to film themselves burning a million pounds in a disused boathouse on the Ardfin Estate. Ardfin is situated on the southern tip of the island and is now owned by an Australian hedge fund manager who plans to build a golf course on it. The estate, like McCartney’s is private but thankfully the rest of Jura allows for many stunning views elsewhere.
The Paps of Jura
Photo by _basquiat_ via Flickr
The Isle of Skye’s Romesdal Highlanders
Photo by Christopher Bulle via Flickr
Isle of Skye
Taking the ferry back to the mainland, this is the route’s long drive up the west coast via Oban and Fort William. You can go at your own pace and explore as many beautiful and historic locations as you like as you’ve almost 300 miles to cover before you reach the legendary Isle of Skye. It was here in the 1970s that another Beatle, George Harrison, chose to come when he needed to escape the world’s attention. His close friend and fellow musician Donovan was living in a hippy commune on Skye and invited George and then wife Pattie Boyd to come and join them. Boyd remembers “George was never happy with his celebrity status. He hated being recognised, and it had got to the point where we simply stopped going out altogether. So the trip to Skye was the most wonderful experience, for both of us.” The Beatles in Scotland by Ken McNabb would be worth buying to read on your trip.
Leaving Skye behind but staying on the subject of legendary rock stars in search of solitude points us in the direction of Loch Ness. If the West side of the lake is famous for its Monster trade the southeast side has encountered beasts of a different kind. Boleskine House is the most mysterious and perhaps daunting of the destinations we’ve mapped out for you. Boleskine is a private affair which, again, you are unlikely to be allowed entry to but then again it has reason to. It’s hard not to recognise it, travelling for a couple of miles east from Foyers you will see the grey gate house, the stone birds on the gate posts and the old pirates graveyard opposite it. From 1889 to 1913 the house was owned by British spy and occult master Aleister Crowley, who purchased the house in order to perform the operation found in The Book of the. In the 1970s Led Zepellin guitarist Jimmy Page followed in his hero Crowley ‘s footsteps and acquired the property. Rumour has it Page himself attempted to summon wild spirits at the location, which also appeared in the band’s film ‘The Song Remains The Same’. Careful inspection of the graveyard will provide extremely old gravestones with skull and cross bones on them. And there you have it, there’s an amazing road back to Glasgow. You can select your own soundtrack.
Jimmy Page, lead guitarist of Led Zeppelin, acquired Aleister Crowley’s mysterious residence.
Photo via Wikipedia
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