Tag Archives: castle

Scotland Part 9 – Stirling

** For Glasgow posts please check parts 1, parts 2, parts 3 and parts 4 of my trip!**

**For Edinburgh posts please check part 5part 6, and part 7 of my trip**

**For the Highlands please check part 8 of my trip**

Welcome to the final day of my Scottish adventure, the town and castle of Stirling.  Also the home to the Wallace Monument, however I only got to see that from afar.  This was on of those times where I realized that November was not the best time to go, after all the sun sets WAY too early.  If I’d gone in June I could have walked over to the monument and still have had daylight.  Oh well, it’s just one more reason for me to go back.

The town of Stirling is about half way between Glasgow and Edinburgh, therefore a quick train ride away.  As I’d already taken a chance to figure out the trains in Glasgow when heading to Edinburgh, it was a no-brainer to stick with them.  Besides, trains are far more comfortable than buses and if travelling on the off hours, really not much more expensive.  Thirty minutes after hopping on my East bound train I arrived in Stirling and set off.  I wandered all through Old Stirling on my way up to the castle, even stumbling upon a great comic shop which had Doctor Who stuff, including action figures of the tenth doctor, my personal favorite 🙂

Right Stirling.  As I was saying Old Stirling was great, lots to look at, many old buildings, an incredible hostel (don’t I wish I’d stayed there!), several things to read on my hike up the hill, and the piece de resistance, Stirling Castle.  It’s been mentioned before that I have a thing for old abandoned buildings, well, I also have a thing for old building in general.  Castles being one of the best!  There are so many things to look at, so many stories to imagine and hear, so many images that pop into your head as you explore.  Yep, I love castles.  Stirling was no exception to the rule, I wandered around for about and hour, and then joined a tour.  There were so many little nuggets of info that I won’t bore you with, because they just aren’t the same if you’re not there! 

From Stirling Castle I was able to look out over the Scottish Country side and see the Wallace Monument.  With the fall colors and the setting sun it made for a resplendent image.  Boy am I glad I got to at least see it.  Hopefully next time I can actually visit it. 

As the sun set, I slowly made my way back down through Old Stirling to the more modern looking parts.  Here I wandered into a Marks & Spencer where I picked up a Canadian Maple smoothie (I thought that was kind of cool) and some sort of salad for supper.  Just outside of M&S I ran into a guy canvassing for some charity and we struck up a conversation.  He was very interested to here what I thought of his country and wanted to now about Canada as he was planning a trip over to BC in the next year.  I told him I didn’t know much about BC, but I could tell him about Ontario and the East Coast.  After about 20 minutes I headed off and he got back to work canvassing.  Meeting random strangers and bonding over something is one of the best parts of travelling 🙂

Well, we have made it through all the highlights of my whirlwind tour of Scotland.  I am still planning on more post, just to highlight some of my favorite pictures that didn’t make it into all fo these posts.  There won’t be much writing, but I have heard that a picture is worth a thousand words!

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Scotland Part 8 – Scottish Highlands

** For Glasgow posts please check parts 1, parts 2, parts 3 and parts 4 of my trip!**

**For Edinburgh posts please check part 5part 6 and part 7 of my trip**

Guess what, we’ve almost made it all the way through my week-long trip to Scotland.  Best part is think we really will make it through everything before I’ve been back for a year.  If all goes according to my current posting plan, there will be one maybe two more posts!  Good grief.

What are we reminiscing about today?  Just one of the most amazing places I’ve ever been.  One place I wish to re-visit, this time for longer and with some serious hiking.  Where on Earth could this magical place be?  If you really are wondering, go read the title of my post.  Yep, the Scottish Highlands.

One of the few things I knew before landing in Glasgow was that I wanted to take a tour of the Highlands.  I would have loved to do one of the multi-day tours, alas I was only in the country for a week.  Had to limit myself.  For that reason I made a point of picking the one day tour that seemed like it would show me the most.  I ended up going with Rabbie Burns Tours as they had lots of great sounding awards.  The way I see it, awards mean people like them and have had good experiences.  I want to have a good experience, so why not.  Also, I had a coupon for…I don’t even remember how much.  The tour I took was Loch Ness, Glencoe and the Highlands.  We also saw Loch Lomond.  I have to say, the tour was well worth whatever it was I spent on it.

Our first stop was at Loch Lomond, and we all got out, wandered around, took some pictures.  Already the views were stunning.  For those of you who don’t know Loch Lomond is the largest of the Lochs in surface area.  Oh yeah, Loch is Scottish for lake.  I kind of want to start calling it Loch Ontario instead of Lake Ontario now!  After we got back on the bus we listened to a very haunting tune “Bonnie, Bonnie Banks of Loch Lomond.”  I’m not going to lie, every time I listen it brings tears to my eyes, and while passing along side the banks of Loch Lomond it was even more of a struggle to keep my composure.

Try not to be moved by that song.

After Loch Lomond we headed over to Fort Augustus where we stopped for lunch and to check out the locks and Loch Ness.  Try saying that one five times fast!  I think many of my travelling companions stopped in a restaurant for lunch, I on the other hand purchased a portion of chips and wandered along the locks while munching on them.  It was chilly, but well worth the extra time to make sure I could take everything in.  That and locks are cool!  **side note, I still remember stopping somewhere with Dad when WAY younger to check out a lock…I was fascinated**

After lunch we hopped back on the bus, drove along the banks of Loch Ness, which I might add, is not only home to famous Nessie, but is also the largest loch in the UK by total water volume.  After awhile we passed Castle Urquhart, not much further up the road we pulled over and hopped on a boat tour of Loch Ness.  We got to go right up to Castle Urquart and I of course took a bajillion photos.  After viewing the castle we headed back to the dock, all the while keeping our eyes peeled for Nessie.  You be the judge as to if I saw her.

 The only other part of our day trip that was amazing, mind-blowing and/or heart wrenching was as we drove through Glencoe.  Which if I remember my translation from Scottish correctly means, where the valley meets the river Coe (feel free to correct me if I’m wrong, it has been almost a year!).

Many of you may have heard about the Glencoe Massacre, I had previously not.  I’ll try to do it some justice right now:

Back in 1692 King William wanted all of the highlanders to swear an oath of Allegiance to him.  For some reason, never known, the Chief of the MacDonald clan was late arriving to sign, possibly due to the weather, or maybe it was an act of rebellion…we will never know.  William was not happy about this so he sent the Campbell clan to the MacDonald’s to stay until further notice/order.  Back then in the highlands there was an unwritten rule that you never turn away someone needed a meal or bed, it is a rather harsh environment.  For this reason, for two weeks, the MacDonald’s played host to the Campbell’s, until February 13.  On this night, the Campbell chief received notice that they were to kill the MacDonald’s, and the Campbell’s followed their orders.  All told, 36 MacDonald’s were killed in their homes, while another 40 women and children died of exposure in the winter night. 

Even now, writing out the story I get shivers running down my back.

There you have it, my day trip up to the Highlands.  It was filled with gorgeous scenery, and interesting facts.  Oh yeah, and it lit up some sort of fire in my soul, I dont’ just want to go back, I feel like I need to go back.

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