October 7, 2010

0 Scotland Trip; Stirling area, October 6-7

Paul was able to get two weeks straight off of work, so we decided to drive up to the Highlands and see as much of Scotland as we could.   We had an amazing time overall, and saw tons of cities, towns, castles, cathedrals, abbeys, lochs, and more, but feel like we barely made a dent in all that is Scotland.  I'm going to have several posts about this trip, since I shot over 1400 pictures over the 16 days!

Statue of Robert the Bruce outside of Stirling Castle.

 We got a late start on our drive due to some meetings Paul had at work, so we arrived in Stirling late in the evening and stayed at an amazing bed and breakfast, The Old Tramhouse,  just down the street from the Wallace Monument.   After a great night's sleep and a delicious breakfast we arrived at Stirling Castle right at opening time.  We purchased our Historic Scotland membership and headed in the castle.

 This cat was hanging out around the gatehouse the whole time we were there, and we kept feeling like Mia stowed away in the car- he was a nice cat, but definitely caused us to double-take!

View of the Royal Palace from just inside the gate.

One of the statues on the wall of the Royal Palace.

The Great Hall, currently being restored.  Through the restoration process they've discovered that the vibrant yellow color that was somewhat scorned is actually the original color- so they're keeping it!  I kept commenting that it reminded me of the fort on St. Croix- I just opened our honeymoon scrapbook and, sure enough, Fort Christiansvaern is bright yellow. 

On top of the Hall are four crowned figures, including a lion and unicorn, two figures that are quite prominent across Scotland.

Interesting stone in the Douglas Garden, so named because the body of William, eight Earl of Douglas, was thrown there after his assassination.

 The view across town to the Wallace Monument.

The view of the King's Knot and a golf course.

 A tapestry group is creating a 7 series tapestry story "The Hunt of the Unicorn" to hang in the Queen's Chambers.  While they don't know the actual tapestries hung in the original chambers, something similar was probably used.  These tapestries are being worked using traditional, hand-work methods.  Four are completed, and hang in the Chapel Royal on display.

The Wallace Monument was next on our list.    There was a short hike up to the actual monument...

 then 246 steps up to the top!  Each floor offered something informative (and a break for our legs!) but the view from the top made the whole climb worth it.  Stirling is a fantastic town, and the two major sites offer amazing views of the whole city.   The Wallace Monument view shows the curves of the River Forth.

 Stirling Castle from the Wallace Monument.

Statue of William Wallace at the base of the monument.

 After we left Stirling we headed through part of the Trossachs over to Loch Leven Castle.  This castle was built on a small island in the middle of a beautiful loch. 

Tower where Mary, Queen of Scots reportedly stayed while imprisoned in the castle.

Our ferry guide told us that the loch is privately owned- by the guy who lives in this house.  A huge house on a beautiful loch with views of a medieval castle?  Yes, please!

Doune Castle was next on our itinerary.   A wildly popular castle, it owes part of it's fame to Monty Python and the Holy Grail being filmed here.

Doune offered fantastic gargoyles- with complete heads!

Probably the best audio tour we had, it was not only informative on Doune specifics and medieval life but it also offered Monty Python tidbits.

The view of Dunblane from the roof of Doune.  So far, castle life doesn't seem so bad, as far as scenery goes!

 The River Forth courses right alongside Doune.  

After a fantastic day in the lowlands, we drove most of the evening and spent the night in John O'Groats (a lousy little harbor town on the Northern coast) in order to catch the early ferry for Orkney!!

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