Three years ago this month, I was on an epic road trip through Scotland and Northern England with my lovely Edinburgh friends, Lesley and Stephen. They literally took me everywhere and were the best tour guides. One of my favourite spots that we drove through (twice!) on that trip was Glencoe.
More recently, I stopped at Glencoe on my Highland Explorer tour, and again with the girls en route back to Glasgow to catch our flight to London. We were ending our Highlands road trip — taken in a Lexus Hybrid SUV, no less (thank you car rental company for the upgrade!) — and wanted to get a few uninterrupted photos of the beautiful Three Sisters hills while we could. (Click here to get directions to the Three Sisters car park.)
It had blessedly stopped raining for a bit so we could enjoy the very early morning peace and quiet of an empty parking lot and no noisy tourists. When I was there with the tour, there were so many people… Though I did get this nice photo:
You may have seen Glencoe’s dramatic scenery featured in many movies and television series, including the Harry Potter movies, Skyfall, and this little show you may have heard of: Outlander. The glen is free to visit and is wonderfully maintained by the National Trust for Scotland (NTS). There is a great visitor centre (located just off the A82, 17 miles south of Fort William) that I visited in 2014, but it wasn’t open for the day yet when the girls and I were driving through. There is an admission fee and they offer guided walks and tours. If you want to explore unencumbered, there are some nice, easy hikes in the glen.
No matter how many times I go through the Highlands, I will never tire of the scenery. It’s such a majestic place and I feel humbled, happy, and at peace when I’m there. Everywhere you look is a shining example of the area’s beauty, though it does have a tragic historical event attached to it: the Massacre of Glencoe. The story made me tear up a bit when I heard it on my bus tour, so I will just leave you to look it up.
In a way, the history helps romanticise the area, but I think the landscape does a good job of that on its own. You can’t tell me the below doesn’t make you wish you were in your own version of Outlande — even if just for a few moments of daydreaming.
Glencoe was one of three NTS sites I had the chance to visit while on this recent trip. I look forward to sharing the others with you in upcoming posts as they absolutely merit their own spotlight!
Time for a stretch!
Dancer Pose (Natarajasana) Tutorial
Enjoying a road trip obviously entails a lot of sitting in the car. Lexus SUV or not, it’s hard on the body. Particularly the hip-flexors, which tend to get quite tight from constant sitting. Which in turn can make the quads feel tight. This also happens with lots of walking. Go figure.
A really great yoga posture for tight quads is Dancer Pose or the more traditional names: Natarajasana or Lord (or Lady!) of the Dance pose. It’s a favourite of mine, because it’s a fabulous quad stretch and way to give your hip flexors some love during road trip pit stops (or post-plane ride). This posture is also an exercise for balance, good for the mind and body… and for keeping your ego in check. It’s also a lovely chest opener and back bend — very nice after having not so great posture while sitting in a car.
Dancer is a lovely, dramatic posture, but we are only going to visit the first two bus stops of the pose.
What you need
- A strap of some kind – a belt or scarf will do in a pinch! (optional)
- Your car, to help with balance (optional)
Dancer Pose Bust Stop #1:
- Stand on an ideally flat, even surface in Mountain Pose (Tadasana), equal weight in both feet.
- If you are using a car for balance, place your right hand on the side of the car.
- Transfer your weight to your right foot, keeping the leg straight and strong by lifting the kneecap.
- a) Reach behind you with your left hand to grab the outside of the left foot and bring it up to your bum OR
- b) Make a long loop with your belt or scarf and reach around to catch your ankle in the loop and bring the foot up to the bum.
- To protect the lower back from compression, gently pull (not tuck) the tailbone towards the ground and pull the belly button in and up.
- This is might be where you ‘get off the bus’ as it’s a good place to be when your quads are super tight.
Dancer Pose Bus Stop #2:
- Begin to lift the left foot up and against the left hand (or your belt), opening the angle of your bent knee as your thigh (possibly) becomes parallel to the ground. This will automatically tilt you forward into a bit of a back bend and open up the chest.
- If you don’t care if anyone is looking at you, or are taking a blog or Instagram photo, lift that right arm up with the palm facing up. This will give a nice stretch on the right side.
- Smile – you’re stretching your quads!
- Hold for 20-30 seconds and repeat on the other side.
Dancer is a fun posture that can be a bit wobbly. So if you fall out of it (as I did in one of the below photos), laugh it off and get back into it. And love the happy endorphins your laughter gives you.
This post was partly made possible by the National Trust for Scotland. As always, opinions stated are my own.
Staring into a Scottish landscape, I have often asked myself why – in spite of all appearances – bracken, rocks, man and sea are at some level one.Neal Ascherson