On the day I saw Loch Lomond, I cried.
I cried when I heard the story of the song, I cried when our tour guide played the song (all three times), and I cried when I saw the lake and sang it to myself.
Although the original composer of Scotland’s most famous song is unknown (and there are a lot of theories about how the song originated), the story our guide told us goes like this: two Scottish brothers were caught red-handed in England. They were both sentenced to death, however, eventually the English softened and changed the sentence: they would let one of the brothers go, while the other one would die for the crimes. The catch? The brothers had to decide who would be the one to die, and who would be the one to be set free.
This difficult decision was eventually made, and as the brother walked away, leaving the other to die, he heard this:
“Oh, ye’ll tak’ the high road, and I’ll tak’ the low road, And I’ll get to Scotland afore ye; But me and my true love will never meet again On the bonnie, bonnie banks o’ Loch Lomond.”
As we wandered along the edge of the loch, I could imagine the dead brother’s lover, waiting for him to never return, possibly looking out over the water, just as I was. I could imagine the surviving brother, haunted by these words the rest of his life.
Loch Lomond was the Scotland I’d always dreamed to see, complete with the history, the loyalty, the beauty, the tragedy, and even the magic.
I dare you not to cry, with the song dancing through your mind, as you stand on those very bonnie banks.
Have you ever visited a place that made you cry?
This post was originally published, in a slightly shorter, different form, in 2014.
Linking up with Travel Tuesday.