Today we said our final goodbyes to Edinburgh and headed up to the Highlands with tour guides, Laura and Craig. The rolling hills of the Scottish countryside were spotted with sheep and occasionally we would pass a hiker traveling on foot. Edinburgh had been a wonderful city, but now we move on to explore a new part of Scotland.
After taking two short breaks to climb around Rothven Barracks and to grab a sandwich lunch, we visited the Leault Farm for a working sheepdogs demonstration. Neil Ross showed us how his dogs can herd the sheep, responding to words he says as well as whistles. We observed as the dogs enthusiastically take turns chasing the sheep, while the others weaved around our legs and watched the sheep with interest. Although the weather was cold and windy, I felt a little warmer watching the dogs frolic around with such enthusiasm. At one point, Neil grabbed a sheep and sheered in front of us. He even gave us an opportunity to sheer the sheep. I went up to take a turn and received a piece of wool as a souvenir.
After the demonstration, Neil and his daughter gave us the opportunity to hold baby lambs and puppies! They were adorable to say the least. Unfortunately, there were no kittens or cats present. The most striking puppy had a light colored coat and blue eyes, which he explained was not common for border collies. Near the end of our time at the farm, we gathered around a table with Neil and his daughter to chat about what he does. As Lauren noted, “the farm was a very different experience from Edinburgh,” and it was very evident that he cares about what he does and believes in its importance. Neil shared not only information about raising sheep and training dogs, but also his own opinions and perspectives on the EU’s and the Scottish government’s role in handling the land in Scotland.
I enjoyed hearing Neil’s perspective. In Edinburgh, we focused on questions of authenticity and tourism, identity and independence, as well as the occasional mention of trains and football. But over the next few days in the Highlands I look forward to exploring new angles and opinions on the issues we have discussed.