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Scotland 2011-Day Three

2011 April 7
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by Shannon Lowder

We got up early on our third day in Scotland.  We had planned on taking a pretty long route to get from Edinburgh to Inverness.  We wanted to take in Stirling Castle, Stirling Bridge, the Wallace Monument, Doune Castle, Loch Ness, and Urqhart Castle before turning in for the night.  It was going to be a busy day!

DSCN0423Before we even made it to Stirling Castle, the first thing we saw standing over this valley was Wallace Monument.  It looks over the town and in my mind, I instantly started thinking about how much history had been forged in this valley.  Even before William Wallace was here.  This was the junction between the Highlands and lowlands.  For me to tell you Stirling was the most important location for most of Scottish history is an understatement.

I took as long as I could walking up to the castle itself.  But by the time I saw the portcullis, I was a kid again.  I was excited to take in as much of the castle as I could.  From the batteries and outer defences, to the powder magazine, and everything in between.  I took a little extra time in the bowling green.  It’s easy to remember Stirling for the battles.  But you have to remember it was a home too.  The bowling green was just a hint of that.

DSCN0473The chapel and grand hall were restored very well.  Hanging out in the Great Hall I could imagine the hunting parties returning to celebrate.  Just being there was awesome.  Knowing I had distant family that fought at Stirling Bridge was enough to really bring this home to me.

If we didn’t have so many other places to see that day, I could have stayed longer, and played more.  But, Wallace Monument was calling.  I had to go.  There’s a museum inside that spans 3 floors plus the overlook.  Seeing Wallace’s sword was amazing!  Penny has a shot of me standing beside it.  But when you get to the top.  That view of the entire valley.  That simply blew me away.  You can see everything… and with enough imagination, you could almost see the history that happened here.

DSCN0526I was in the United Kingdom, and I had to make at least one trek to a Monty Python location.  Doune Castle was used for several different scenes in Search for the Holy Grail.  You may recognize the shot from the right from the opening scenes.  I did actually call out “Hello there!”

Unfortunately there was no answer.

I walked all around the castle, but it was shut for the season, so I couldn’t go inside to see where the “Knights of the Round Table” was performed.  But, there was no time to be sad.  We had other places to see!

We drove through the highlands the long way.  From Doune, we made our way up the A82, by Loch Lomond, Loch Linnhe, Loch Lochy, and finally to Loch Ness.  This was the day when Penny learned something very important about Scotland.  They won’t put a bridge over a loch.  You must drive all the way around.

I thought the drive was spectacular, but it was a long drive. 

DSCN0546We barely made it to Urquhart Castle, before dusk.  We couldn’t tour the castle, but we were able to take pictures.  We even managed a picture of Nessie.  Sort of .

After taking a few dozen pictures of Urquhart, we made our way to Inverness.  On the way, Penny was finally able to take close up pictures of some red Highland coo.

It had only taken three days… but she had her pictures.

When we got to the hotel, we took in a late dinner.  I enjoyed some Haggis, and then crashed for the night.  I knew there was one more day of driving ahead of me.  We were going to head across the Isle of Skye to take in Dunvegan Castle and check out the home of the Clan Macleod.

I’ve included the full slideshow from day three below.  Let me know what you think of the pictures!

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