Stirling Castle and William Wallace Memorial

The clash of swords, the glint of sun on bloodstained armor, the hiss of arrows splitting the foggy morning air. Smell the moisture and the breath of a thousand combatants as the ground shakes from the knights on their monstrous steeds thundering down the hillside to join the fray. Then, it is gone and I am alone with the only the wind and the hills to sing their ancient ballads for me. Where am I? I am standing at one of the most strategically important places in Scotland: Stirling Castle. It has been said that he who holds the keys to Stirling Castle holds the keys to Scotland. From a tactical standpoint it is true. The balances of the English/Scottish war were always tipped in favor to the side that held Stirling.
But today, it no longer holds an army of fierce soldiers, only the quiet footsteps of peaceful tourists. But like many things in Scotland, the spirit of war still abides in these battle scarred walls. Whispering, to those who will listen, the tales of old.

Stirling Castle

Some of the amazing walls at Stirling.


Stirling Castle window

Looking out the window of the throne room.

Stirling Castle

A statue at Stirling Castle

Stirling Castle view

The view from Stirling Castle

Stirling Castle walls

One of the many beautiful walls.


Just across the glen from Stirling Castle is the William Wallace Memorial. While a fairly recent addition to the landscape (Its 150th anniversary is celebrated this year), it is none the less impressive and a regal sight as it perches atop the hill standing as a silent guardian.

William Wallace Memorial

William Wallace Memorial

William Wallace Memorial

Another view of William Wallace Memorial

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“On the Bonnie Bonnie banks of Loch Lomond!”

Yes, I was there. Just like the song. Ok, Not really like the song but I was staying in a beautiful hostel there. Keep in mind this was my first day in Scotland so everything was very new to me.

Loch Lomond hostel

The hostel at Loch Lomond

First, about the weather: the cool winds dance across the hills as if inviting you on an adventure. Take a breath and you can smell freshly washed history. History because Scotland is steeped in it, freshly washed because it rains quite frequently. Which is not a bad thing, rain makes the landscape amazingly green and lush. If I had to try to describe Scotland to someone who had never been here before I would tell them that it is the perfect mix of the pacific northwest climate and the hills of Appalachia. Due to time and space constraints, as well as the huge number of places I have been in such a short time, I have decided to just show you a map of all the places I have been, then write about a couple at a time.

Map of our travels

Map of our travels

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Our first full Day!!

Hello all!

On our first official day in Scotland we went to Stirling castle! Here are some photos for your enjoyment.

Stirling Castle

Here is a picture of the castle itself

Scottish Throne

Me, Sitting on the Scottish Throne

Celtic Cross

A monument, but not at the castle

Thanks again for following my adventures!

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Thoughts of Flying…

Many of the people I talked to about this trip asked if I had ever flown before. I had not. But now, obviously, I have since I am currently at 37000 feet. My thoughts? Really Cool! How could anyone not like this! Ok, I’ll admit that it was a little awkward when we hit the first spot of turbulence and the plane felt like it dropped out of the sky. But overall, I would do this all the time.

My thoughts on the airports… Everyone knows that everything in it is overpriced anyway so I’ll skip that part. But in other notes, I got to see some things that were firsts for me. Examples: Best Buy vending machines, 2 liter bottles of duty free Vodka, and my favorite: Two toilet paper dispensers of toilet paper, one rolled over, one rolled under. I mean, I knew some people were picky but wow!

Another one of the things that goes through my engineering type brain is numbers. Numbers like 617 MPH. That specific number marks the highest recorded velocity my little body has ever reached. Though the sense of speed barely registers compared to my previous top of 110 MPH even though it is almost 6 times as fast. I guess thee reason that contrast stands out to me right now is because it is a strikingly clear example of how our perceptions are based on our surroundings. Over 600 MPH doesn’t FEEL that fast when there is nothing but clear air whipping past the windows. In a round about way(one that makes perfect sense to my sleep deprived brain), life can be a lot like the difference between doing 110 on land, or 617 in the air. Sometimes we get so caught up with all the meaningless things in our life that life seems like it is going by at warp speed. But if you stop for just a second and look back on it, it is hard to tell what, if anything, worthwhile we accomplished. Or, on the flip side, if we just take life in stride and focus on the truly important things in life, the days seem to go by at a much more leisurely pace. But the number of worthwhile things (be it tasks, memories made, or lives affected) we have accomplished is mind boggling.

Ok, I realize that perhaps my brain is working on a different wavelength right now, but if I were a betting man, I would wager that you too have experienced the same phenomenon of life-speed variance. Yes? No?

 

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Preconceptions

One might be thinking that there is no way a small island, approximately 100 kilometers across and less mileage than my commute to Pellissippi State, could possibly be all that exciting. It is.  From the time of the ancients, Scotland has held a reputation of being a rugged and proud place. This might be because it is populated by people who can share the same descriptors. The rugged and proud Scots are NOT fond of being told what to do or how to do it. As one can imagine, this has created quite the legacy for Scotland’s people. The spirit of the people affects the land.  Is there any other country that will proudly wear a kilt or fight off countries that are massively larger than them? The terrain is just as harsh with rocky, rough land.  However, enduring this and drenching spring downpours, somehow, they managed to think up golf.  Scottish hearts beat to a different drum, like my own.  If told they can’t do something, they will do just that to prove that it can be done. I admire that attitude. If everyone accepted naysayers’ criticism, we would never have advancements.  Literary, engineering, architecture, aeronautical, and artistic progression have all come from this can-do perseverance.  Scotland, because of the spirit given to it by its people, has made great advancements. From my point of view, the engineering and architectural achievements are the most amazing. Structures like Forth Bridge, Eilean Donan Castle, and Glasgow Science Centre don’t just pop up on their own. They require effort and inspiration.

Maybe it isn’t the spirit of the people after all.  Maybe it is something more, something deeper. Maybe the excitement flows through the surroundings.  Think of it, the picturesque castle rooted on the grassy knoll, surrounded by a glassy lake. Feel the rushing river thundering down the mountain, rolling through the hills and marching through the flatlands.  A sense of magic is always just beyond the tangible, hiding in the rooms of an ancient castle, swimming in the depths of the glittering lochs, dancing in the breeze that wafts over the rocky hills as it journeys from the crashing sea!

Sounds like I know what I’m talking about, doesn’t it? I have no clue! I realize that my preconceptions of Scotland may be way off. They have mostly been shaped by books, movies such as Braveheart, and what I have read on the internet. But perhaps I’ll find that my imaginations are true. One thing I know for sure is that I am going to have a lot of fun finding out!

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