Wednesday, 27 June 2012

111 Stirling and Edinburgh

Monday 25th June
After packing up again, we left the comfort of the caravan and decided to go and get some culture.  Our first stop was at the Wallace Memorial.  It was very expensive and had been built in the 1890's so some what of an after thought.
The William Wallace memorial

The next stop was Stirling castle.  For a nominal fee we could buy a pass that allowed us to enter any other historic sites free, as many as we liked in a three day period that had to be used in 5 days.  This is one of Scotland’s grandest castles due to its imposing position and impressive architecture, Stirling Castle commands the countryside for many miles around.
It towers over some of the most important battlefields of Scotland’s past including Stirling Bridge, the site of William Wallace’s victory over the English in 1297, and Bannockburn where Robert the Bruce defeated the same foe in the summer of 1314.
King Robert the Bruce

Whatever you do, do NOT let her out !!

Great Hall decorated to mimic what it would have looked like in its heyday

Inside the Great Hall

Whatever the question is, the answer is no..... Off with their heads.

The kings state room

The devil, he was depicted here as a female. See the boobs.

Situated on a volcanic outcrop guarding the lowest crossing point of the River Forth, Stirling Castle is a great symbol of Scottish Independence and a source of enduring national pride. The castle’s long, turbulent history is associated with great figures from Scotland’s past, such as William Wallace, Robert the Bruce and Mary Queen of Scots. It has seen many royal dramas and witnessed the lives and deaths of almost every Scottish monarch up to the Union of the Crowns.

Stirling was the favoured residence of most of Scotland’s later medieval monarchs. Most contributed to its impressive architecture. In James IV’s reign (1488–1513), Scotland was increasingly receptive to Classical ideas spreading across Europe from Renaissance Italy. James spent much time and money making the castle fit for a European monarch, chiefly to impress his queen, Margaret Tudor, daughter of Henry VII of England.

His legacy was continued by his son, James V, equally determined to impress his second bride, Queen Marie de Guise. Their daughter, Mary Queen of Scots, was crowned here in 1543, and Mary’s own son, the future James VI, was baptised here in 1566. The celebrations culminated in a fireworks display on the Esplanade, the first seen in Scotland. James VI hosted a great three-day celebration here in 1594 to mark his own son’s baptism.

From there we made our way to Linlithgow where we camped ready for our next dose of history. It was a beautiful evening and we sat outside to enjoy it and a cup of coffee, but were soon inundated with midgies and so retired to the back of Gromit to escape them.  Strangely they disappeared as quickly as they had arrived.  Chores sorted and to bed.

Tuesday 26th June
Usual packing up done and we were on our way to Linlithgow Palace.  It is mostly ruins but you can walk throughout the rooms and in the towers and there are still many sculptures that remain.  This again was another home to King James V and it is said that Mary Queen of Scots was born there but only remained there for 7 months until she was taken to Sterling Castle as it was more secure.
The fountain inside Linlithgow Palace

The remains of the rooms and towers.

Next door to the Palace is a church. St Michael's Parish church.  It is very old and quite beautiful inside.  Sadly outside the church the Prison Officers were forming a guard of honour for one of their colleagues  who had past away to cancer aged 47.
Inside St Michaels Parish Church

The prison officers Guard of Honour.

We left there and headed to Edinburgh castle.  Ray had never been there and we spent several hours going around the many halls and exhibitions, including the crown jewels.  It was a little bit special for me as well as I was christened in St Margret's Chapel, inside the castle and we were able to go inside and see it for ourselves.  We learned a bit more history and really enjoyed the day.
Approaching Edinburgh castle esplanade.

The one o'clock gun. Fired every day

The Chapel altar where .......

...the last time this lady visited was at her own Christening.

The kings state room. Note the addition of the St Georges Cross.

The memorial to all Scottish soldiers from 1914 to the present day.

When it was time to leave, we headed for a campsite at Morton Hall, on the outskirts of Edinburgh, near Fairmilehead at the bottom of the Pentland Hills.  As a teenager I used to live here, so we drove round and saw our old house. The street its self doesn't seem to have changed much in 30ish years.

Where Karen lived as a teenager.

The campsite was lovely, if a tad expensive. The heavens had opened so we sat in the bar at the site and had dinner and a wee dram before retiring for the night.

Wednesday 27th June.

It was still very damp under foot when we got up but we were soon packed up and off again.  As we were in Edinburgh, I wanted to see if my old school still existed, Firrhill High School.  We found it and   drove up to the gates.  It has been completely revamped but there it was in all it's glory.  My little claim to fame with the school is that my gym teacher went on to train and then marry Alan Wells, one of Scotland's gold medal winners at running in the Olympics.
And the establishment responsible for her brilliance.

No day is complete without a trip to Tesco, and we had planned to go for a walk up the Pentland Hills, but we couldn't see them for the mist and rain.
We left Edinburgh and took a scenic route through the borders and ended up at Berwick upon Tweed, which is in England.  We spent some time wandering around and walked on the city walls.  It had been mentioned a few times in our tours of the castles, previously.
The Ramparts. A wall built to keep out the English or the Scots depending upon who was in charge at the time !

Berwick is a quaint old market town.

The bridge over to the southern 'English' side.

Whilst down this way we thought we would visit Holy Island.  To get there you have to cross a causeway and be very aware of the tides.  We crossed over with no problems, but once in the town on the Island, you cannot enter the town by vehicle.  You cannot camp.  You pay for the privilege of parking up, so not wanting to be stuck there, we decided to head back to the mainland.  On the way back we saw huge numbers of seals and different sea birds.  Oh there was a castle there too, but we could not get to it.  If we'd planned things a bit better we could have spent some more time walking about.
Lindisfarne castle.

Anyway, we are sitting in a pub called the Lindisfarne Inn, using their Wi Fi and wondering about where to stay tonight.

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