UK Destinations 2019 - Stirling & Glasgow, Scotland

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We two couples are flying separately from the US, meeting in Dublin, Ireland, about mid-day, on a Sunday.  We'll head into the City for a few hours of touring, getting an early dinner and its early to bed because the following morning we have a 7 am flight to Glasgow, Scotland, where our 16 day road journey begins.     

From the Glasgow Airport, you pop right onto the freeway. Stirling Castle & the Wallace Monument, only 20 miles away, are our main destinations today. 

On the way we'll drop off our luggage at the B&B in West Plean, and then we'll have a short drive to a the Springkerse Park & Ride, with a very short bus ride to center city, or we can walk it and in fact, a popular breakfast place is on the way.     

STIRLING

Once we find our way up the steep hill, Stirling Castle should occupy us for a few hours, because it's an interesting collection of old buildings from different eras, and, the Castle has a long & tumultuous history.  The Unicorn Cafe here gets consistently good reviews, especially for lunch. 

I hope to find the small hole in the castle wall that was cut in the 1500s so that almost 4 year old Mary Stuart (later Queen of Scots) could look out on the surrounding countryside. This was pointed out by John Guy in the Queen of Scots book already referred to.   

Stirling Castle from below historical gateway to the Highlands interior spaces  
Wm. Wallace monument Stirling Castle at night

After leaving the castle, it's only a short drive from the P&R to the William Wallace Monument, a solemn place.  

Sir William Wallace was a Scottish Knight who briefly became a legendary hero during Scotland's struggle for independence from England.  In 1297, King Edward I invaded Scotland, and Wallace's rag-tag army, made up of Scots highlanders and lowlanders, fighting for rule by a Scottish King, overpowered a larger & better equipped English force at the Battle of Stirling Bridge.  It was a complete rout and a demoralizing defeat for the English.

The narrowness of the bridge and the deep bogs surrounding it doomed the English.  Really bad tactics, al around.

A year later Wallace's troops were badly defeated by Edward's armies at the Battle of Falkirk, near Linlithgow.  As a result Wm. Wallace lost the title of Guardian of Scotland, the honor passing to Robert the Bruce, a formidable warrior who later became King of Scotland.     

While the 1995 movie Braveheart mistakenly associated William Wallace with the Clannish Highlands, which starts just north of Stirling, he & his men were not from there and spent most of their years hiding out in Ettrick Forrest, down south in Selkirkshire, in the heart of the Scottish Borders, from where they conducted brutal raids into England, often not sparing anyone, "nor young or old, nor Monks or Nuns."  (nowadays referred to as 'ethnic cleansing')

Wallace also regularly harassed & at times killed small bands of English soldiers on patrol in the vicinity of an English Garrison at Ayr, in Robert Burns' territory.  Centuries later Burns claimed Wallace's family had historic roots in Ayrshire.  (Robt. the Bruce likewise)    

In 1305 the bribe-based spy network which Edward I had established in Scotland enabled his 'light horse' men to track down Wm. Wallace, near Glasgow.  Like professionals, or perhaps just lucky, they walked in on him, in bed & unprotected. 

Shortly thereafter, Wallace came to a terrible end at a public execution in London.  He was sentenced to death for treason and for crimes against English civilians.    

Whew ! .......after a day spent absorbing history, we'll have an early dinner at The Birds & The Bees, in a Stirling suburb.   

Good to have an early dinner & then a long evening to relax, or to conk out early if need be. These two nights at the B&B are the initial diurnal adjustment period.  We're out in the country, five miles south of Stirling, where it should be really quiet at night.      

GLASGOW

The next day we're back at the Park & Ride and a short bus ride, into Sterling, and then we are on a train to Queen St. Station in center city Glasgow, 45 minutes away.  Trains to Glasgow from here run every 15 minutes on day shift.

In July and August Rich and I had a series of emails about our day in Glasgow and after sorting the options, the tentative plan follows -

From Queen Station (ScotRail) we'll probably take the hop-on, hop-off bus to the Museum of Transport, or to the Kelvingrove Museum.  Both are shown below 

Kelvingrove Museum   Heads display  
  Hunterian Museum   Mackintosh
furniture architecture    

Riverside Museum of Transport, on River Clyde.  

The striking building was designed by Dame Zaha Hadid (1950-2016), an Iraqi-British Architect who over decades of work received an astounding number of national & international awards, for instance, she was the first woman to ever receive a Royal Gold Medal from the Royal Institute of British Architects.  The list - and photos - of each building she designed, can be seen at her impressive Bio page on Wikipedia.

The Riverside Museum opened in 2011 and was named the European Museum of the Year in 2013.            

map again -  Riverside Museum by Zaha Hadid see note plan view 

note - this former ocean-going cargo ship - a large sailing ship - was built in Glasgow in 1896.  A guide book says it has a great cafe at river level.  

On the way back to Queen St. Station we'll try to catch some of the Mural Trail. 

the website is https://citycentermuraltrail.co.uk which has a good map, on which you'll notice that the Murals are somewhat spread out.  You might have to walk a lot to see most or all of them.   

the Mural Trail    
    map of destinations  
University cloisters Glasgow Botanical Garden orchids  

The West End, where the museums and the Botanical Garden & University are located, has been a fashionable place to live since the Victorian Age, in the late 1800s.  The first picture shows this being a very dense urban space. These days there are numerous restaurants, pubs & playhouses, contributing to an active nightlife scene.  

I'm hoping we can be back at Queen Station around 4 pm & back to Stirling for a short drive to another early dinner, this time in a classy old building which was once upon a time an Inn on a main road.        

About Haggis -

densely urban in the West End street view popular restaurants here  traditional breakfast with haggis
  see note  haggis nachos      

note - this is "haggis black pudding with apple stack and whiskey sauce".  

Haggis....what is it?  Well, its the National Food of Scotland for starters.....

"Traditionally, Haggis takes the chopped or minced 'pluck' of a sheep (heart, lungs, liver) and mixes it with coarse oatmeal, suet, spices (nutmeg, cinnamon, coriander) plus salt, pepper & stock. This mixture is stuffed into a casing or stomach, often synthetic today, to be simmered for 2 - 3 hours."  (from BBC)

Haggis - just the name makes it sound so yummy, yes?  But most of us I think are interested to give it a try, and most restaurants have it as a Starter, and sometimes with the Mains, so I'll report back later on this National Food item.    

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