Day one - Stirling Castle  

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map of southern  Scotland, see note

note - for the early and western part of the trip, look for Stirling, the Isle of Bute, on the west coast, and then further to Ayr.  Our last week's destinations are on the right or eastern side - look for Jedburgh, and Melrose, in the Scottish Borders.  Linlithgow, not shown, is 20 miles west of Edinburgh.

Glasgow Airport - it was sunny & cold at 8 am, as we walked from the turbo-prop to the terminal.  After a relaxed coffee we picked up our rental vehicle and headed to Stirling, about 20 miles away. We stopped by the B&B in Plean, south of town, to drop off luggage, and then drove to Stirling Castle. 


gateway to the Highlands (a web photo)

Where the Stirling Bridge crosses the River Forth, just below the Castle, has historically been the passageway from the Scottish Highlands to the Lowlands, and back, giving the Castle a strategic role to play. 

A lot of important Scottish history occurred in the area in the early 1300's, when English forces under Kings Edward I or II were defeated by the Scottish, first at Stirling Bridge in 1297, which victory over Edward I propelled William Wallace to short-lived fame. 

Fifteen years later Scottish warrior Robert the Bruce was victorious over Edward II at nearby Bannockburn, which launched his career as Scottish King and the origin of Stuart Royal lineage.  

Both Edward I and II had won other battles against the Scots, but after Bannockburn a military standoff took hold, ushering in a few hundred years of relative peace between the two countries.  During that time period, the Scottish Stuarts thrived.  

Between 1300 and 1603, the Stuarts made Stirling Castle their court & power base, and, successive Kings named James built the fine Renaissance style buildings that we see today.  All Stuart Kings were born & raised either at Stirling Castle or at Linlithgow Palace.

With the Union of the Crowns in 1603, King James VI of Scotland became King James I of England, and the Royal Court moved to London, never to return. 

note - you can enlarge any part of a picture by left-clicking in and then out again.

Wm. Wallace Monument from Stirling Castle this is where the Highlands start, heading north Wallace statue at the Castle Guardian of Scotland, once upon a time
  the gate house w/Queen's garden to the left Unicorn Cafe, our first stop cafe patio  
the Palace, built by James V nearby Kirk  Yard tour groups forming near the Great Hall our Docent was entertaining
  the Great Hall, built by James III impressive 1500's ceiling Chapel Royal, built in 1594 by James VI
in search of a special hole in the wall Castle north wall the walkway has a 10 ft. drop at left  The Lady's Hole, see note 1
present day views Royalty's staff dwellings < Unicorns in the ceiling & in tapestries >


    the Queen's garden see note 2 heirloom or antique rose
general view beyond the wall  interesting door near the entrance

note 1 - Mary, Queen of Scots, was born at Linlithgow Palace, but her French Mom, Mary of Guise, felt safer living at Stirling Castle.  When the child Mary turned five, she was sent to Paris, so she could be raised by Catholic relatives. 

At Stirling, when Mary was 3.5 years old, she asked if a hole could be made in the Castle wall, so she could look out, which was done.  Once our tour ended, the Docent took a few of us to the north wall, and showed us where to find "the Lady's Hole".    

It's not on the tour because there's an unprotected ten foot drop on the interior side of the walk along the Castle wall, and, it is a little narrow walking alongside the crenellations. The Docent said it was OK for only six of us to go there, and she gave us a verbal warning about the falling hazard. 

note two - in the garden photo there's a healthy looking Palm tree, to the right.  Palm trees in Scotland? 


After the Castle visit we walked through the adjacent Kirkyard behind Holy Rude Church and then went inside this beautiful 1500s structure. 

It was 'atmospheric' to say the least, and we sat or walked around, mostly looking up. This Kirk is in splendid original condition, and, the Docent here was enjoyable to talk with.  The roof here is just as impressive as the one at the Castle's Great Hall.

After the church visit we went next door to the Portcullis Tavern, to get a brew. or other beverage.   

      another incredible roof,
WWI memorial   see note  The King James Bible....what a legacy !!!
  he seeded the reading  revolution ! old Pub w/rooms getting a brew  
these were great B&B for two nights at Plean   the 'back walk' at Stirling, see note

Holy Rude Church had a small display concerning publication of the King James Bible, by King James I, the first translation of the Bible into English. 

In Germany, Martin Luther had proposed this radical departure from Papacy-controlled Biblical access in order to allow every person who could read to interpret the Bible for themselves, in their own homes.  Of course, Gutenburgh the type-setter had only recently made printing possible.     

note - the 'back walk' is like a walker's expressway from the Castle to the heart of town, and back, with no other turnoffs.  I saw it online long before the trip and hoped we'd get a chance to walk up or down, but reality intervened and it didn't happen.  Supposedly the trees are pretty dense & a walker is isolated from the sights, but not the sounds, of the surrounding City. 

William Wallace Monument - Well, we ran out of time & did not go there.  It is a solemn place which I visited in September '13 with my sister Doris and her husband Paul, which photos are shown here: William Wallace Monument 2013.  (one visit is enough to get the National Hero flavor)

We had a 5 pm dinner at The Birds & Bees restaurant, not far from the Castle, the same restaurant where D&P and I enjoyed a good meal, 6 years ago. 

The haggis appetizer that Rich ordered and let me try was really good. 

Once back at the B&B, around dusk, the four of us played cards and then we chatted for a while with the B&B owners.  And then we crashed early..... 

We were way out in the country & it was very quiet at night.   

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