The Search for Hungry Hills Farm

September 9, 2015:

Our ancestry includes proud Scottish roots through our mother whose maiden name was Sharp. The mission of this portion of our trip to Scotland was locating the farm of our ancestors.

Longmanhill, Scotland is located some three miles east of the city of Banff-McDuff in Gamrie Parish on the north coast of Scotland. From the top of Longmanhill, on a clear day, one can see out over the North Sea. This long, gently sloping hill consists of a few farms, one of which is Hungry Hills Farm. In all likelihood, this area is the ancestral home of the Sharp family dating back to the 1600’s and 1700’s. ~ Sharp Family History AddendumOctober 2001

Thanks to our determined taxi driver from Banff, our mission was accomplished!

Why did our ancestors leave such a beautiful land? Was it due to the Scottish Clearances?

Whether it was economic necessity as described by some, or ethnic cleansing, as described by others, the net result was that between 1783 and 1881 a documented 170,571 Highlanders were ejected from their traditional lands. Records are very sparse and it’s been estimated that the true total was very much greater than this. ~ tartans

These Scottish people were cleared from their homes mainly to make way for sheep, the wisdom at the time being that the sheep were more profitable than small tenant farmers. While some Highlanders left their homes
voluntarily and went abroad, most of the evictions were forced upon an unwilling population and were often carried out using the most despicable of methods. ~

If anyone has an interesting link or information pertaining to this topic, please include these into the comments section of this post.  Thanks!


The Road is Long…

The road is long
With many a winding turn
That leads us to who knows where
Who knows when…     ~ Rufus Wainwright

Thus, begins day 3 of the Camino de Santiago.


Although the day begins with pleasant weather, the path is not so pleasant.  Not only is it a steep descent, it is extremely rocky and water is running across the trail in several areas.  At one point I lose my footing and land smack dab on my back.  Luckily, the backpack makes a wonderful cushion and the fall on the wet, rocky path is not painful.  Getting up isn’t a pretty sight, but I eventually make it to an upright position.  O.K., let’s try this again.  It was challenging enough to stay upright so the photo above is borrowed from another blog site (Thank you, but it shows how rocky the path is this morning.  Now just imagine cooler temps with rushing water running though the wet, slippery rocks.

Spain-1030522dmvThe path improves and we stay to the left just as the Way marker says.  We pass a dead sheep that my experienced sheep farmer husband determined had recently died.  This is a long stretch of downhill mountain road.

Spain-1030524dmvTaxi?  Call Luis.  You can find his number on signs, benches or whatever was handy to write on.  We did see a taxi go up the mountain and later saw it go back down with hands waving at us.  Hmmm… Do we know you?

Spain-1030531dmvThe path finally arrives at Molinaseca which is in the region of El Bierzo and still the province of Leon.  The steeple is San Nicolás church and was built in the 17th century.

Spain-1030535dmvWe pass many gardens and flowering trees on our way into town.

Spain-1030543dmvThe creek is rapidly flowing today as we cross an old, Roman bridge.

Spain-1030548dmvAseos, por fa vor?  A-a-a-a-h-h-h…  Gracias!  Bathroom stop and we purchase bread, nuts and water for the road at a shop in Molinaseca

Molinaseca_puente_romanoAs early as the Roman era Molinaseca served as a checkpoint on the way to the gold mines. ~ 

Spain-1030557dmvWe leave Molinaseca and find flowering trees and new growth of grass that appear to be nudging the vineyard out of its winter slumber.

Spain-1030563kpWe pass a memorial to a former pilgrim.  This man would have been 78 when he died.  I’m assuming he met his demise while at this spot on the Way of St. James.  He almost made it to Ponferrada.

Ponferrada lies on the Sil River, a tributary of the river Miño, in the El Bierzo valley, completely surrounded by mountains. It is the last major town along the French route of the Way of St. James (Camino de Santiago) before it reaches its destination of Santiago.  ~ Wikipedia.  Yup, surrounded by mountains.  They aren’t kidding, either!

It is generally cloudy now as we approach the outskirts of town and we turn the 2 way radios on.  Hot Cross Buns to Joan…  Do you read me?  (Pause… blip…)  Hola!  We hear the welcome reply and they are waiting for us in the town plaza.  Hooray for the radios!!

Spain-1030572dmvcrWe find many gardeners out today as we continue on through town.


We cross another old Roman-style bridge as we enter into the busy city of Ponferrada.

See the steeple in the distance on the left side of the photo above?  We assume that is where Joan and Kathy are perched as they wait for our happy feet to approach the plaza.


We continue on through the narrow streets as we get closer to the city center.


Kids are kids the world around ~ always curious and will play with whatever is available.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThe first records of Ponferrada are as a former citadel in Roman times. From the 11th century, the rise in pilgrimages to Santiago de Compostela spurred the appearance of the hamlet of Pons Ferrata, located on the Pilgrim’s Route to Santiago de Compostela and named in this way because of the building of a bridge reinforced with iron. In 1178, the King Fernando II of León placed this flourishing settlement under the custody of the Order of the Temple. The Knights Templar used the site of a primitive Roman fortress to build a castle in which they settled and which, at the same time, protected the passing pilgrims. This favored demographic growth and led to the commercial development of the area. ~


I notice that Joan is clutching the 2 way radio.  What a slick way of communication on the trail and she does NOT want to lose the radio.

Spain-1030588dmvJane, a member of our group with an interesting Boston accent, is ordering a lunch-time snack. Being  a native of Minnesota  (pronounced Min ~ uh ~ soh ~ Duh), I just love listening to her speak.  She is the Energizer Bunny of the group because she can just go and go and go without seeming tired, while the rest of us are ready to drop from exhaustion.  A wealth of information is stored inside her head and she was the one that alerted me to the historic importance of the Knights Templar to the Camino de Santiago.


The clock says 12:36 p.m. and we have a lot of ground left to cover today.  Kathy is determined to NOT let the trail beat her so she is hoisting the backpack onto her back and it feels like an old friend.  Down the path we go, and Randy and the Hot Cross Buns are all pedestrians again.  Destination is Cacabalos which is another 15 kilometers.

Click, Click, Click… our sticks resume their rhythmic cadence.

Planning a trip to Jamaica? Let me introduce you to Solomon…

Meet Solomon Hutchinson, our tour guide/driver extraordinaire.  He was our “go to guy” for exploring locations in and around Montego Bay, Jamaica that were too far for walking.  His friendly, prompt and courteous service made our trip stress free and comfortable. He was able to provide rides for our group even though we weren’t sure of the numbers until the last minute.  He must have had some kind of magic hat to pull all this off!

My favorite quote from our Jamaican experience is from Solomon himself:

“I have no problems; only situations.”  ~ Solomon Hutchinson 

I try to remember this saying when I think I should be all stressed out about something.  You just deal with it.  End of story.

Solomon Hutchinson

Solomon Hutchinson  |  876-368-7820 |

For the most historic and cultural sightseeing and tours such as Mayfield Falls, Green Grotto Cave, Dunn River Falls, Black River Safari, Negril, 7 Miles Beach.  Wheelchair accessible.

Use only special taxis or vans operated by JUTA, the Jamaica Union of  Travellers Association (tel. 876/957-4620), or taxis operated by its  government-sanctioned counterpart, JCAL Tours (Jamaica Co-operative Automobile & Limousine Tours; tel. 876/957-4620). Do not get into a  “pirate taxi,” even if the driver promises to cut the going rate in half;  cheating tourists is disturbingly common. JUTA tariffs are controlled, and  you’ll recognize its vehicles by the union emblems and red license plates. A  list of official tariffs is posted at the airport — but it’s still important to  agree on the price before setting out, to avoid potential disagreements later.

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