The leaning tower of … where??

We have all heard of the Leaning Tower of Pisa – and no doubt have seen many of those so-called clever selfies positioned in such a way as it looks as if the subject is propping up the tower. OK, the first couple of hundred were funny but enough already!

But what about the Leaning Tower of Glenfinnan. Well the name is a bit of a give-away so you would be right if you said it was in Scotland. It is located in the mystical West country of Scotland nestled in amongst lochs and mountains.

Glenfinnan – red marks the spot

First of all before you even start looking for the leaning tower – just look at this countryside. It is magnificent. A close up of the map shows that Glenfinnan is located alongside a network of lochs – but look at the names.

Gualachulain … Altnafeadh ….. Giarlochy ….. my goodness me. Those are some mouthfulls to get out. Better be prepared with your own GDS system if you are driving because hell knows how you would be able to ask directions. Especially if you happened upon a small village or farm. It sometimes surprises people how strong the Scottish accent can be as visitors often expect the accent to have softened a bit taking into account the Scottish people have been exposed to those villainous England across the border. You will still hear the old phrases if you venture into the smaller places – a few delightful examples –

I’ll gie ye a skelpit lug! – I’ll give you a slap on the ear.

Mony a mickle maks a muckle! – Saving a small amount soon builds up to a large amount.

Yer bum’s oot the windae – You’re talking rubbish.

It’s a dreich day! – Said in reference to the weather, when it’s cold, damp and miserable.

But back to the tower – why is it leaning and what is it’s history? THE GLENFINNAN MONUMENT, NOW OVER 200 years old, honors the Scottish soldiers who fought and died in the Jacobite Rebellion of the 18th century. It represents the Raising of the Standard (flag) on August 19, 1745, when Bonnie Prince Charlie brought the clans together at Glenfinnan to fight the English for his right to the crown.

The tower was built in 1815 but due to a structural movement it has a little bit of a lean – about one foot from it’s original verticle position.

OK it’s not as dramatic as the tower in Pisa but the countryside more than makes up for that. And if you do make it to Glenfinnan village you can take in the leaning tower and do a lovely 15 minute walk out to the Viaduct – the tower’s most famous cousin –

which featured in the Harry Potter movies. Of course you knew that didn’t you – as soon as you saw the photo. No wonder it was chosen for this. You can still ride on what is popularly known as the Harry Potter train or the Hogwarts Express Line. Take some time in this area to explore as it is rich in history.

This was the area that Bonnie Prince Charlie hid away from the Duke of Cumberland’s men as detailed in this extract from –

Charles spent five months as a fugitive in the western Highlands and islands with Cumberland’s men in relentless pursuit. He eventually escaped to France, with the selfless assistance of the heroic Flora MacDonald, and died in Rome in 1788 by all accounts a drink-befuddled and bitter man. But his legendary alter ego, the ‘Highland laddie’, lived on. The whole story is brilliantly written and includes many facts you might not know about

If history is your thing and you also enjoy a drop of Scotland’s finest (a wee dram) make sure you add Scotland to your list of places to see. Having lived there in a couple of different places, Arbroath and Elgin (right up on the north coast) I remember thinking how funny the kids spoke when they were there. But I am told that we quickly picked up the Scottish accent as it is quite pervasive! So you might want to study up on a few modern Scottish phrases to tide you over while you are there –

  • Gonnae no’ dae that! – Going to not do that.
  • At dis ma nut in – That does my head in.
  • Pure dead brilliant – Exceptionally good.
  • Yer bum’s oot the windae – You’re talking rubbish.
  • Awa’ an bile yer heid – Away and boil your head.
  • Am pure done in – I’m feeling very tired.
  • Am a pure nick – I don’t look very presentable.
  • Ah umnae – I am not.
  • Ah let wan go – I broke wind.
  • Int it – Isn’t it.
  • Ma heid’s mince – My head’s a bit mixed up.
  • Ma heid’s loupin’ – My head is sore.
  • Yer oot yer face! – You’re very drunk.
  • Yer aff yer heid – You’re off your head – a little bit daft.

By Lesley Keyter

Lesley Keyter is the face of travel in the fast growing city of Calgary. Every week since 1997 she has has featured live on the Morning News Global TV.

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