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Scotland: Stirling

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13 – 14 June 2009

Journey to Stirling along the East Coast of Scotland

On Saturday (13 June) we woke to rain. To reach Stirling, our next destination, we decided to take a longer route east and then south to see more of Scotland’s countryside as experience the east coast along the Atlantic Ocean. We took a taxi from the hotel to the train station in Aviemore and boarded the 09:44 service to Inverness. The weather improved significantly during the 30 minutes we had in Inverness and we were treated to nice views from the train window as we left at 10:58 and rode a little over two hours to Aberdeen.

We picked up some sandwiches and drinks during our 30 minute layover in the Aberdeen train station and then continued our train journey toward Stirling, moving along the coast and then inland. Arriving in Stirling at 15:43, almost exactly two hours after leaving Aberdeen, we walked about 15 minutes up hill from the train station to our hotel and checked in. It was located in a former stone school building dating from the 1800s. The remainder of the afternoon was spent walking around town, visiting a shopping mall and eating dinner at a pub.

Historic Stirling Castle and Wallace Monument

Sunday was devoted to learning about Stirling’s rich historic past. After ordering coffee and pastries at a breakfast cafe, we continued to the top of the hill where the Stirling Castle is located. We bought audio guides and enjoyed the commentary as we moved throughout the castle. Much of the structures date from the 14th to 16th centuries and the Great Hall is the largest such medieval building in Scotland. It rained part of the time but we were able to visit several of the buildings while dodging the rain drops, learning about Scottish monarchs, including James V, Mary, Queen of Scots and James VI. The views from the walls were great and reinforced the strategic location of this city adjacent to both the Scottish lowlands and highlands.

During the afternoon we made our way to the William Wallace Monument, about three miles away. We initially thought we could take a short train trip to get us within close walking distance, but when this did not work out, we took a taxi to the monument instead. After a break for soup and drinks in the cafeteria, we made our way up some switchbacks to the monument building. It was then about 250 steps to the top, broken up by viewing exhibits on the life of William Wallace and an seeing an overview of famous Scots.

From the top there were views of Stirling and the castle as well as seven historic battlefields in which the Scottish battled the English. After enjoying the views, we made our way back down and then decided to walk back to Stirling via the famous Stirling Bridge, near the battle where William Wallace defeated the English in 1297. We reached Stirling in less than an hour and then had dinner in the evening at an Italian restaurant in the Old Town.


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