Our first full day in the UK began in the wonderful small city of Stirling Scotland. After a solid 13 hours sleep for all 3 of us (wow), we headed out from the hotel to Stirling Castle, the city of Stirling is an absolute delight, the picturesque historic old town surrounded by modern conveniences. With a little help from the GPS we made it to the cobbled street that lead to the castle.
The weather was quite pleasant, cold & clear, the air crisp, but when the wind blew it was a little biting, quite a welcome change from Texas. The castle is a fabulously preserved structure, like walking straight into a medieval movie scene, maybe even a Braveheart scene. We arrived halfway between guided tours so we decided to just set off and view the place for ourselves. My daughter loved this as she could run free, up and down the walls checking out every nook and cranny. It was such a joy to watch her, it reminded me of my childhood when castles were such an awe inspiring place to let your imagination run wild.
Tales of old
If they could speak what would they say
Stories of Kings and knights
or foreign tourists from far away?
Battles and wounds
Heros and foes
Or discounted plastic swords?
After the castle we drove over to the William Wallace monument & had a bacon roll for lunch, proper bacon, it was wonderful!! Afterwards we climbed the hill unto the monument, it was a nice steep climb up a path covered with wet leaves from the woods it led through. At the top of the hill stood the monument, rising straight up proudly declaring its celebration of Scottish history, the St Andrews cross flag blowing freely in the wind.
The monument is basically an epic stair master, 246 steps on a stone spiral staircase to the top, no I didn’t count them. There were 3 rooms on the way up to take a breather and enjoy some history. The Hall of Arms with some Wallace info and a dramatized of a conversation between Wallace and Andrew de Moray along with some weapons & stuff. The 2nd room up, the Hall of Heroes, contained the extremely large Wallace Sword that may or may not contain some of the original sword. There are also a number of busts of historically significant Scottsmen from poets & clergy men to inventors, engineers & of course Robert the Bruce. In this room was also the only surviving document from Wallace himself along with his personal seal. The 3rd room up, the Royal chamber, has some kids entertainment pieces in it. Finally when you reach the top of the tower, you are treated to some spectacular views of Stirling & the surrounding area. There is a map helping you to spot where the battle of Stirling was fought & won by Wallace & his army.
Once we made our way down to the car we headed off west towards Fort William where we would be meeting my Mum. The drive was utterly spectacular, the scenery is just astounding in its beauty, it reminded me of the rockies, but gentler and with more dramatic color contrasts. The road itself was magnificent, it was work keeping the momentum up in our rental car, it is the sort of road that would be a dream to drive on a cool dry day in a nice speedy 2 door! After a couple of hours we made it to Fort William, the sun had already quit on us for the day. We found the rental cottage without any problems & on arrival was given the opportunity to hug my Mum for the first time in 4 years, the sort of moment that trips like this are all about, the scenery & entertainment are just a side show 🙂
On a side note, if we ever make another trip to Scotland, Stirling will be close to the top of the list for places to make our base, I would really like to spend some more time there.