Freedom! etc.

Yesterday I made the trip to Stirling, about 50 minutes on the train from Waverly station. I did a full-on tourist day; I got there at 9 a.m., bought the city bus tour pass, and hit the big spots: the castle, the Wallace monument, the site of the Battle of Bannockburn.
I’ve heard people say they like Stirling castle better than Edinburgh castle, and I think I agree. Both castles are perched impressively atop their cities, and from the ground Edinburgh is a more imposing sight, but Stirling has a lot going on inside. Unfortunately the palace bit is under construction until 2011; they’re redoing the inside to look like it would have when James V built it for his wife, but the Great Hall has been redone. The audio guide does a good job of recreating what it would have been like in there during a royal banquet. The one in which Mary, Queen of Scots celebrated the christening of her son, apparently, ended in a brawl between the Scottish and English guests. Surprise surprise.

From the castle I headed to the Wallace monument, but with a short stop first to track down the microbrewery in Bridge of Allan. It was really a small room tucked behind the Queen’s Hotel, in which Craig, a young guy with a long ponytail, was reading a book.When I walked in he leapt to his feet and began pouring me tasters of beer. I tried raspberry, honey and ginger-flavoured beer, dark ales and blondes and bitters. Craig told me about their whiskey beer, and the flavoured one they make for Christmas called ‘Turkey Stuffing’, and also about his friend’s World of Warcraft trading card collection. I bought three beers, one of which, of course, was called ‘William Wallace’.



(That’s right, I buy beer as a souvenir. My dad will be so proud when he reads that).

So then on to the Wallace monument; where I discovered I’d have to climb a very large hill, and then another 246 stairs to the top. ‘No worries‘, I told myself. ‘I’ve climbed Croagh Patrick.’ I’ve not climbed Croagh Patrick, however, after taste-testing 11 kinds of beer.

I made it to the top, though, and saw Wallace’s sword, and the view from the summit of the tower, where you can see umpteen historic battlefields.

There was no Wallace re-enactor, unfortunately, despite the fact that it was the anniversary of the Battle of Stirling Bridge. It took me a moment to realize that perhaps September 11 isn’t a day you want to highlight.

Now I can’t wait to start my Scottish history class.

About aasaelsewhere

I like Saskatchewan fine, but am hitting the road soon anyway. First on the itinerary: Portugal, England, Ireland, then England again. I have Yellow Fever immunity, a pending visa, and a blank passport, and can't promise anything.
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3 Responses to Freedom! etc.

  1. dhana says:

    Fantastic pics! I’m glad you enjoyed your day out!!

  2. dhana says:

    PS funny story about the Wallace Monument – Steve and I had a free pass to go to the Wallace Monument back in 2004. We’d been to a house in Stirling, you’ll have seen it on your way up to the Castle, and when you visit it, you get free admission to the Wallace Monument. Anyway, by the time we got to the Wallace Monument, we had half an hour to closing. By the time we got up to the top of the stairs and into the gift shop at the Wallace Monument, there was 10 mins left to closing. The guy told us no, we couldn’t go up, as they were about to close. We were really disappointing after having climbed all that way, only to be told no. So we begged and pleaded and he said if we could get up to the top and back down in 10 mins, he would waive our admission fee.

    Steve and I looked at each other, took a deep breath, and RAN all the way up to the top, stopping briefly at every level. Got to the top, took pictures, and ran back down in exactly 8 minutes.

    The guy was pretty flabbergasted, but he waived our fee and gave us a lift back down to the car park lol

  3. dhana says:

    that should read “by the time we got up to the top of the hill”, not stairs, in line six.

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