Scotland: Picking Up Where We Left Off

Current Location: Cardiff, Wales, United Kingdom

Days until I fly home: Four

I have reasons why I have not been writing, but I will not waste anyone’s time by explaining them. The end of this adventure is nigh and I am having difficulty comprehending that this thing I spent two years planning and agonizing over will go from a thing that I “will do” to a thing that I “have done.” The enormity of that realization is slowly settling into my heart. For now, I will do my best to catch you up on the things I have been doing for the past month and a half. I have been through Scotland, The Republic of Ireland, Northern Ireland, and back to England. These posts will be short so that I can ensure that I cover everything before I step onto that plane in London. Once I am home I am sure I will speak to many of you and share stories that I must skip now in the interest of time. This journey has been like a dream and now I am in that place between dreaming and awake. I will savor these last few days of slumber.

I have told you about my time in Edinburgh and my everlasting love of that stately city. My time in Scotland got progressively wilder the farther north I ventured. Though I spent the whole month of July in this marvelous country I feel that I have barely scratched the surface. I was awed and inspired by the wild landscape and fell in love with the people. Just walking out of doors in Scotland takes preparation. The capricious weather will make you sweat one minute, then wrap you a thick mist straight out of mythology before blasting you with a frigid wind. It is the roughest country that I have seen in a while and I wanted to see more. Now, back to the task at hand.

My first stop after Edinburgh was the city of Stirling. This royal city perched on a hill and tucked into the curves of a river is the home of Stirling castle, the second grandest and most intact castle in the country after Edinburgh castle. Though its design included obvious elements meant for defense, Stirling castle was also meant as a pleasure palace and statement of power to visiting nobles. Richly painted chambers, ample and intricate carvings in stone and wood, pleasure gardens tucked between the walls, all served to make the castle more a comfortable home than military fortress. It sits on the highest point of the city and from the outer walls you can look out over much of the valley. You can also catch sight of the other structure of note in Stirling, The Wallace Monument.

IMG_3744

See the little tiny tower on another hill? That’s the Wallace Monument as seen from Stirling castle.IMG_3737

Getting to the Wallace Monument involves a bus, getting off at a seemingly random intersection, and then making the short trek up the steep hill to the base of the tower. The Monument is a stone tower that stands at the edge of a cliff overlooking the river valley and surrounding hills. Dedicated to William Wallace, and the battle he won in Stirling that made him famous, the tower is little more than spiral staircase and a series of small chambers. The view that rewards you at the top more than makes up for any dizziness you may experience on the climb up.

Looking up at how far I still have to go…IMG_3805

One view from the top of the monument.IMG_3815

Other than some meanderings around the old town, that’s pretty much all I did in Stirling before moving north to Aberdeen….

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