Destination: Stirling, Perth & Pitlochry Scotland
Date: May 2013
What an adventure we’ve had! Heading north from Edinburgh we went back to the city of Trent’s forefathers, Stirling. Stirling is a quaint city of about 40,000 people and a huge beautiful castle built just up the hill from the rest of the city. Of course the castle is built like many of the long lasting castles of the area… up on the highest point. It is surrounded with green as far as the eye can see and is quite lovely. (Lovely happens to be my new word for this trip since it has been used by the locals to describe almost everything from landscapes to scones.)
While in Stirling we had two goals in mind, see the William Wallace aka Braveheart monument and visit the Stirling Castle. Luckily we were able to check off both from our bucket list. Since we had programed Stirling Castle into our phone Siri took us straight there but instead of taking us to the parking lot at the top of the hill she took us to the bottom path that led up the hill. Since we were unaware of the top parking lot we went ahead and parked and walked a beautiful path for about fifteen minutes to the entrance of Stirling Castle. I was actually pleased with our walk and it saved us the 4L parking fee. Along the path was an old time cemetery that brought even more intrigue to our castle stop.
Stirling Castle has a 13L fee to enter and is open from 9:30am-6:00pm everyday of the week. Hours change upon seasons so do check the website. We did a self guided tour of the property and really enjoyed learning about the construction of the castle by King James V and the growing up years of Mary Queen of Scots. Many in our group thought it was a better castle than the Edinburgh Castle. It didn’t have the crown jewels but there was a lot of history and it was very interesting to read. Of course since I’ve been to Versailles I must admit that this castle seemed quite desperate in comparison. (Just saying…;)
This castle does offer beautiful views of the countryside and of the William Wallace monument across the valley about three miles from Stirling Castle. Once we finished at the castle we had spent about an hour and a-half so we headed over for a quick look at Braveheart’s monument.
At the bottom of the monument there parking and a shuttle that will take anyone up the hill and avoid the steep walk. This monument was built in the mid-19th century to commemorate the victorious battle that William Wallace had here at the Abbey Craig Hill against King Edward I in 1297.
It costs about 8L per person to go inside the monument but we enjoyed listening to a story teller out on the lawn dressed in a period outfit from Wallace’s time. We quickly took a few pictures, listened to a few stories, and grabbed the shuttle back to our car.
Since we were headed north to Inverness, we started again and our next stop was Perth. Perth used to house the Stone of Scone but since that now resides in Edinburgh we weren’t too interested in seeing the castle in Perth. Instead we headed over to Small Talk, a typical Scottish Tea Room. We happened to be in Perth on Mothers Day and it was the best restaurant I could have ever been on this special day. With forty different tea’s, finger sandwiches, soups, scones, and cakes it was a perfectly LOVELY!!
This cute little restaurant was filled with antiques and cute little cakes and scones adorn the front pantries. The staff was so kind and gave us great hospitality answering all of our questions in their Scottish brogues.
From Perth we were back on the road to the Blair Athol Castle just passed Pitlochry. This old castle didn’t look like any of the typical castles we had seen in Scotland. It looked a little more like Sleeping Beauty’s castle in the Magic Kingdom. Made of stone with a white stucco on the outside and turrets raising to the sky it was not typical of some of the more daunting castles in the area. With thirty rooms on display and an easy self guided tour through the castle we saw as much or as little as we desired. The castles interior looked a little more Downton Abbeyish but with much more emphasis on hunting. With horns and guns lining many of the walls of this castle it looked like the latest episode of Downton Abbey when the family visits Inverness.
The most intriguing part of this castle, for me, were the grounds. Everything was beautiful and lush with a river running just out front of the castle doors. Even camping grounds were located nearby which was very understandable considering what a beautiful area it was located. I was glad that we did take the time to visit Blair Castle and Gardens because so many locals had told us that this was a castle we couldn’t miss.
From Pitlochry we got back on the freeway and continued to navigate the left side driving up to the city of Inverness. Trent was a great sport piloting our car as we all navigated and screeched and screamed with his every turn. It seemed that none of us got used to, not only his driving on the right sided steering, but also on the left side of the road. We did finally make it to Inverness, the northern most city of Scotland and were quickly greeted by the howling wind and chilling cold of the highlands!
Safe and Happy Travels!!