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.
Some of the amazing walls at Stirling.
Looking out the window of the throne room.
A statue at Stirling Castle
The view from Stirling Castle
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
Another view of William Wallace Memorial
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.
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
On our first official day in Scotland we went to Stirling castle! Here are some photos for your enjoyment.
Here is a picture of the castle itself
Me, Sitting on the Scottish Throne
A monument, but not at the castle
Thanks again for following my adventures!
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!