‘Just Stirling!’

So much to see… so little time! We all got up nice and early today, ready for another day of adventure around lovely Edinburgh. The first site on our agenda today was the historical ‘Wallace Monument’, a tribute to the heroic (if not mad) warrior who lead Scotland during the ‘Invasion of Stirling Bridge’ only to be hung, drawn and quartered (a process of hanging, stretching and then chopping the body into four pieces before scattering each piece to the North, South, East and West corners of Scotland) a few short years later. Some believe he went mad during his fight for Scotland’s Freedom. “They can take our land… but they’ll never take our freedom” was his very famous war cry.

The monument is quite amazing, standing high on top of the hill directly opposite Stirling Castle. This site is not part of the Historical Scotland group so we had to pay for admission. After paying our £22.00 to enter we headed off on a trek up the hill (yes, more walking). Fortunately for us, there is a car park half way up the hill so the trek was only mildly crazy (not as bad as it could have been). Stormy girl really struggled so Matt ended up carrying her most of the way up…poor Matty!

After catching our breath we headed up inside the monument for another jump into history…. And what would a historical monument be without stairs…lots and lots of tiny, spiral stairs (over 200 in total). A rope along the side wall is the only thing to stop you toppling at times as you cling to the side whilst passing other crazy history buffs coming down or up in the opposite direction to you. All worth it of course. Stained glass windows, marble busts of Scotland’s many historical figures and views to die for … as some of the Scots of old did in defence of it! The boys posed for a photo at the top, with Stirling Castle sitting behind them. The trek down was not nearly so bad. A bit steep but definitely much easier on the legs. Even Stormy girl managed it, walking alongside Kerry and stopping for some wild raspberries along the way. The boys never seem to tire of this wild treat. The wild raspberries don’t grown as big as the farmed variety… but they sure are delicious! The UK is abundant with them at this time of year. Next month the blackberries will start again…mmm!

Next: Stirling Castle, take #2. Just as beautiful as we remembered! Being Second-year members of ‘English Heritage’ group has its definite advantages. Once again our admission was free. Loving it! Magnificent weather accompanied us again as we entered this monumental castle, once home of Mary, Queen of Scots. We stopped at the castle’s ‘Unicorn Café’ where we paid £10.55 for some cappuccinos and hot chocolates before embarking on our walk around the castle grounds. The Great Hall was hosting a show from a group of young local string musicians today. We decided to sit and watch ‘Big Noise’ put on their mini show. Just lovely!

Darian and Kerry basked in the sun on the grass inside the castle’s gardens. What a place for a stop and a rest! The boys were absolutely beautiful and were absolutely delighted with our purchase of Celtic wrist bands, feather quills, ink and an old fashioned ‘B’ wax seal. Can’t wait to try them out on some postcards!

Finally, we headed off to ‘Linlithgow Palace’ only to discover that it was closed for the day. Instead of going inside we went for a wander around the lovely neighbouring lake. Small boats rested on the side and trees made angelic reflections on the water.

After dinner back at the van we headed back in to Edinburgh city for a ‘night walk’. Complete with buskers and a fire dancer, Edinburgh was a very charming place by night. We even ventured down some small side streets on our wander around this very hilly city with an endless number of stair walkways. The surrounding waterways shone with the night time glow given by the illuminated buildings overlooking them. We drove the ‘royal mile’ by night before heading back to camp. What a lovely way to end a very busy day. Will all sleep well tonight!


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