Back in January, I tracked down my great-great-great grandfather at the ScotlandsPeople Centre. This month, I traveled to the other side of Scotland and saw the land of my maternal ancestors. I walked the same streets of Glasgow that they walked, went to their church of Paisley Abbey (check out the view), visited their last known address in the old country, and saw their graves in Greenock.
Then I walked down to the water, to the place where the River Clyde meets the sea, and stood on the docks were my great-great-great-grandfather left Scotland more than 150 years ago. The water was a steely purple-grey and as I looked westward, the fog appeared and took over, wrapping the scene in a soft whiteness.
Suddenly it seemed like the rest of the world disappeared, and all that was left was me in my coat, huddled on the edge of that dock, and the dark water disappearing into fog. To stand in the same spot as my own ancestor was pleasantly haunting, and after a month of exploring Scotland, I finally felt a strong and sacred connection to this faraway place that granted me a name, a penchant for butter, and an inability to tan. Alba gu bràth.
Next year marks Homecoming Scotland 2014, an open invitation to all to return to Scotland and celebrate everything that’s great about being Scottish. I can tell you that there is no greater emotion than traveling to the land of your ancestors and making that very personal connection, which is why I intend to return, again and again, to the land of my clan, and one of the most beautiful spots on Earth.
Hope to see you there.
- Nat Geo Expeditions