Scotland - The Land of Scotch and Haggis travel blog

The Muick River. There is no Kueith River

Loch Muick

Cathy takes a photo on a bridge that crosses Loch Muich


Day 8 - There No “u” in “Mick”, Unless You’re in Scotland

We’ve been very lucky with the weather so far on this trip. It’s been mostly cloudy (especially while we were in Glasgow), and at times, it’s even been hot. (unusually so for Scotland. So much so that the place we’re staying does not have air conditioning. Their explanation: “We’ve never needed it before. It’s never been this hot”). Scotland is not Hawaii. Bad weather is the rule, not the exception. And just like gambler at the craps table who keeps shooting sevens on the come-out roll, eventually the luck has to run out.

Today, the luck ran out. Not in a bad way. The weather we got is still considered normal by Scotland standards. But, we got rain. Not a heavy rain. Not a lot of it, and not for very long. But it hit us when we were out on a walk around one of the many picturesque Scottish lochs. And to be fair, I can’t even truthfully say that bad weather made it less picturesque. The misty fog gave the loch a more eerie quality, but it still looked beautiful. (I think the picture uploader is working again, so hopefully there will be some pictures posted to this entry).

The loch we hiked out to was called Loch Muick. It supplies the water for the Muick river, which is. a tributary of the Dee river, which runs all the way to Aberdeen, into the Atlantic Ocean.

I’ll skip right to the punchline of this entry, which you might have deduced from the title of this entry: “Muick” is not pronounced like it rhymes with “Buick”. It’s produced “Mick”, as in the first name of the lead singer of The Rolling Stones, as in rhymes with stick, click, and dick.

But of course, we didn’t know this. We had been pronouncing it like it was a male Buick. Sometimes, no matter how hard you try not to appear like an ignorant American, you just can’t help it.

When we drove to the parking area at the trailhead to Loch Muick, we discovered that it cost 4 lbs (I can’t find the British “pound” symbol on my iPad keyboard. Sorry) to park. However, the machine would only accept coins and no bills higher than a 5. I had less than 4 lbs worth of coin, and no bills lower than 10. I asked someone in the parking lot who was leaving if she had any change. She did not, but she assured me that it wouldn’t be a problem. No one was going to be checking dashboards. She had a UK accent so I assumed she knew what she was talking about. Still, she told me that they could probably give me change at the visitor’s center.

When we got to the visitor’s center, I asked one of the rangers for change. “Oh don’t worry about the parking. Nobody’s out today, but even if they were, the worst you’d get would be a white slip on your windshield.”

“What’s a white slip?” I asked.

She reached into her desk and pulled out a white slip of paper. “This is what they would put on your windshield if someone were out there, but I’m almost certain nobody is.”

The “white slip” told people that parking at the Loch Muick trailhead, was a voluntary payment of 4 lbs, and that the money was needed for the conservation efforts of the various animals who use the Loch area as their habitats. Then it gave a web address where you could, if you chose to, pay for the parking. PayPal was accepted.

I was a bit relieved.

So we started out on the trail. It was windy, and slightly chilly (Cathy will tell you that it was freezing, and for her it probably was. However, it takes a lot to make me uncomfortably cold, and this didn’t quite do it. I was wearing a sweater, and carrying an umbrella in case in rained). The trail followed a river, which I had assumed was the Dee river since the Dee is the primary river that runs through the Cairngorms. We were hoping to see some wildlife, as the area is known for its deer population, but we came up empty in that regard. It was still very picturesque.

Once we got to Loch Muick, we decided to turn around and head back, not wanting to press out luck with the fact that up to this point, it had not been raining. That turned out to be a good idea, realized a bit late. As soon as we started walking back, the rain started to come down. Not a lot of it. Not heavy. But it was about 1-2 mile walk back to the visitor’s center, and even armed with a small umbrella, it’s pretty hard to stay outside in the rain for that long of a period of time and not get wet, which we did. Not tremendously so, but enough to be grateful for the heat and the shelter when we finally made it back to the visitor’s center.

That’s when I had to open my mouth and confirm the stereotype about ignorant Americans. I asked the Ranger if that was the Dee river that we’d been walking alongside. “Is that the Dee river that flows from Loch Muick?”, I asked, mispronouncing the name of the Loch, rhyming it with Buick.

“No, that’s the river Muick”, she said pronouncing it correctly, rhyming with ‘lick’. “The Muick is a tributary of the Dee.”

I thanked her for the information and then started looking at one of the maps on display at the visitor center. I wondered maybe the “Mick” river (which is how imaged it was spelled) was named after the legendary singer... and then I saw on the map that the “Mick” river was, in fact, spelled “Muick”, just like the name of the Loch which I had been mispronouncing since I arrived in Cairngorms, and which I had mispronounced to the ranger. Well, fuck.

It’s a good think I don’t drive a Buick, or know anyone who does, because it would be impossible for me now not to pronounce it as “Bic”, like the razor.

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