Today was a magnificent ride through the Highlands. A big thank you goes to our coach driver Colin. He is a master storyteller which I will elaborate on in Glasgow. He is also a very caring (and daring) individual. For our ride to Stirling Castle, he could have taken the main highway south. All that we would have seen would have been lanes of pavement on either side. Instead, he took the secondary roads. The Highland experience greeted us with all its glory
Sometimes the leaves of the trees would be brushing the coach window. Other times, the road so narrow, Colin had to pull into a lay-by (provide for just such and event) to let the car in the other direction pass.
Our first stop was Laggan Dam. Built in 1934 on the River Spean. The reservoir contains 1.4 billion cubic feet of water. You can see the spill way stone arches.
We stopped for a look and photo. It would be great to walk along that but its closed for authorized personnel.
The River Spean Reservoir. The water is conveyed by pipes to a power station at Fort Williams
The views of the Highlands were everywhere. I took photos through the bus window using my iPhone 13. A lot of them had reflections in the glass but I managed to get a gallery of majesty.
One of the the most famous views in the Highlands is The Three Sisters in Glen Coe. In Gaelic they are Bidean nam Bian. There is a 4 kilometre walk from Glen Coe to the Three Sisters. But the site provides plenty of parking for buses to stop. They are 3 ridges named ‘Beinn Fhada’, ‘Gearr Aonach’, and ‘Aonach Dubh’. I did a video in order to get them all together.
We passed the Rannoch Moor but did not stop for a photo. Although there is a viewing area. It is designated a Special Area of Conservation. Of note: it was mentioned in the book Kidnapped by Robert Louis Stevenson. A scene from the television show Outlander was shot here. As well as a scene from Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows
Our lunch was pre-arranged at The Laden Inn. Known for serving authentic Scottish food. They also have their own ales. They treated us with a starter of Deep Fried Haggis Balls, chips and gravy. I had 2 helpings.
We reached Stirling Castle. It is quite an imposting structure seen from a distance. And, you can expect, there was a lot of battles associated with the place – at least 8 sieges
Unlike Urquhart, Stirling is in excellent shape which indicates how important it was. At one point old Edward I had it but was taken by William Wallace after the battle of Stirling Bridge. If you’ve seen the movie Braveheart, with Mel Gibson, you will have an idea of William Wallace.
In fact, from the ramparts you can see the Wallace monument ( – the tower in the distant centre.
I would have loved to visit the monument. It is a 67 metre tower, completed in 1869.
Visitors are welcome and you can climb the 245 steps to the observation deck. Here’s an aerial photo from Google
Stirling Castle is home to the Argyle and Sutherland Highlanders who maintain a military museum. I opted for the free guided tour. On the day we were there, they were having a special Highlanders day with the military tattoo.
Many Kings and Queens of Scotland were crowned at Stirling, including Mary Queen of Scots. Here is the The Great Hall. The orange colour is from the lime wash used to protect the sandstone
The cannons on the ramparts were ever only fired once. That was when Charles Edward Stewart and the Jacobites tried to take the castle. The spot they chose to launch their attack was right in front of the cannons.
The Great Hall built by James IV in 1511. Shipbuilders worked on the roof and you can see the resemblance to a ship
The dias, where the king and queen sat, are illuminated by large windows on either side.
Across the courtyard from the Great Hall is the Royal Palace. Completed it the 1540s by James V. He had it built for his wife. It was the childhood home of Mary Queen of Scots. The line of Renaissance statues also includes James V in the far top left, under the gargoyles
Soon it was time to go back to the coach as we were headed to Glasgow and the last 2 days of our Scottish adventure.