As in the days of yore, Scottish highlanders battle for supremacy! Once, clan chiefs and their followers fought fiercely for land and prestige. But today it was only highland cattle jousting. We stopped at the Isle of Skye and found a few of the beasties. Comparatively diminutive, and with hair-in-the-face bangs, the creatures were as cute as cattle ever get. They approached us like great shaggy puppy dogs, with a mixture of curiosity and apprehension. After regarding us with great solemnity, a pair suddenly broke off for a bout of head butting. The third eyed us for a few minutes more before realizing that a duel was in progress. Suddenly inspired, he lumbered off to join the game. But the battle ended as soon as it began, and the trio bowed their heads for some placid grass munching.

Nearby loomed Dunvegan Castle. Seat of the MacLeod Clan, this castle has been occupied since 1200. We toured the castle and viewed the many treasures it houses, none more intriguing than the Fairy Flag. Imbued with magic power, the flag can save the clan from destruction if waved in a true crisis. But, having been waved twice already, power for only one more rescue remains!

Later in the day, on the Isle of Rum, we visited a castle of a completely different sort. Kinloch, hardly an ancient site, was built in 1901. It is a nouveau riche residence with all the trappings of newfound nobility, plus the quirky modernity of Edwardian invention. We saw mounted stag's heads in profusion, clunky toilets glazed with lovely chrysanthemums, showers that sprayed hot water from every direction, and a mechanical orchestra. After touring the house, we adjourned to the ballroom, where a special reception had been laid out for us. We sampled hors d'oeuvres and tasted whiskey from nearby distilleries.

Whiskey, bulls and castles - always a fine combo, and never better than in the Scottish Isles!