Scotland Adventure: Day One

For many people in Canada, particularly in Ontario, it is the first week back to the regular routine after March or Spring Break. Many are trying to get back into the groove after a weeklong break where many people went away to get some much-needed rest and relaxation. A lot of people would have headed south to some warm destination to work on their tan, I on the other hand did not. This year I had the fortunate pleasure to visit a country I had only read about and seen in movies and pictures and only dreamed of going; a place known as Scotland.  

This trip all started last year when a colleague of mine mentioned that she was going to Scotland for the break. I said I would love to see Scotland and she then said ‘You want to come along?’ I said sure I’d love to and then another teacher overheard us and asked if she could too. We said yes and from that our trip was underway. My friend has been to Scotland on numerous occasions and she said that she would organize the trip and where we would be going. I gave her complete control because I knew she had seen most of the country and I wanted to experience a new and wonderful adventure exploring it with my colleagues.
Our trip was supposed to be 9 days but unfortunately our flight was canceled because of technical issues on the plane, yet we were able to fly out the next day. To put the entire trip in one post would be impossible because there was so much I saw and yes; we took a lot of pictures. Therefore in the next few weeks I will be posting my trip to Scotland one post for every day we were there. Think of it as a journal entire for each day of my trip. Alright let us begin …

Scotland Trip: Day One

Our trip comprised four people; my friends A, B, C and me. Like I said we lost a day because of technical issues with the plane the night before but we arrived at the airport the following night ready to begin our adventure. The flight was pleasant enough, but after our lost day we were anxious to land in Scotland as soon as possible. We landed at Glasgow airport around 1000 hours where we rented a car and then made our way to our first destination, Stirling Castle.   A and B had already been to Stirling castle and thought it would be a nice place for C and I to visit while they do some shopping for Sim cards and other things we may need.

Entering Stirling Castle

Stirling castle is my first medieval castle of either English or Scottish design. It is located in Stirling on top of Castle Hill that over looks the entire area. It is situated in the most strategic position to help defend the River Forth crossing. This crossing is the only way to cross the river safely up until the 1890s.
For hundreds of years the only way to the north (The Highlands) was to go past Stirling. Most of the main buildings date back to the 15th and 16th centuries, very few buildings remain from the 14th century and the outer wall defences date to the early 18th century. There have been many sieges at the castle, at least 8, which include the Wars of Scottish Independence. You may have heard of two paramount characters Robert the Bruce and William Wallace who fought for Stirling Castle during this time.
Before the unification of Scotland and England, Stirling castle was one of the most used of the royal residences as it also doubled as a palace as well as a fortress. Many Scottish Kings and Queens were crowned there including Mary, Queen of Scots in 1542.
Once inside the sheer grandeur of the place was impressive. We were fortunate to arrive just in time for a tour where she took us all over the main buildings of the castle. As we walked around the grounds and buildings and you could feel the history coming to life there as we explored this magnificent castle. The one impressive part of the castle was the Great Hall where the king would entertain his guests or hold court. A large hall with ceilings that stretched up at least 3 stories and kept in place with massive oak beams. Yet as impressive as this was, it was nothing compared to the royal residences.
We were not allowed into the private royal bed chambers but we did explore the private chambers of the king and queen. They and the Presence Chambers (waiting rooms) were decorated with tapestries, paintings and sculptures including the ceiling. I took a panoramic picture of the ceiling in the King’s Presence Camber that was decorated with large sculptures of historical figures both real and mythical. The tapestry in the Queen’s Chambers was equally impressive with depictions of the royal coat of arms.
The one thing I noticed was that there were unicorns everywhere you looked. The tour guide mentioned that King James IV coat of arms has the unicorn very prevalent on either side. The legend says that the unicorn is a magical and powerful creature. The king wanted to show that he was strong and powerful so he had the unicorn in his coat of arms but it is wearing a crown around its neck meaning that the king tamed it. What better way for James IV to show his importance then through taming a powerful creature in Scottish myth and placing it in his coat of arms.
The rest of the castle was equally impressive and after several hours exploring it we had to say good-bye to Stirling Castle and make our way north to the Highlands in Aviemore inside Cairngorms National Park. There our second day would begin.



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