Day 10–June 26–Day Trip to Stirling Castle

We got up early to take the train to Stirling to visit the Castle, and got there before some of the sites were open, but fortunately the castle opens at 9:30. We took a guided tour (they start every half hour) and then had tea before spending an hour or so in the exhibit for the carved medallions in the palace. This is definitely the portion of the castle where many will want to spend their time budget. The comparison of 17th Century and modern fashions was fascinating, as was the selection of clothing as a political statement as relevant today as then.

After lunch we went to catch a local bus to take us to the Wallace National Monument. In Stirling, there are two bus companies and the tickets are not interchangeable; the M buses only run once an hour which is important to know when allocating time at the tower. Do not miss the last bus (we did not). We took the shuttle up the hill to the tower and then climbed it–all 270-some steps. The view is incredible, and gives a good understanding of the Stirling Bridge battlefield.

At this point, our original plan of seeing the Falkirk Wheel and the Kelpies was clearly beyond hope, so we got tea, hopped a train back to Paisley via Glasgow Queens and Glasgow Central, had dinner at the same Italian restaurant near the Paisley train station, and walked home. Kristin’s Garmin said that she had walked 8.6 miles.

For planning trips in and around Glasgow, you will probably have to travel between Glasgow Central and Glasgow Queens train stations at least once. There are busses, you can walk or take a taxi. Taking a taxi and walking are probably about the same time, depending upon traffic. Taking the bus is the slowest. It is about a 10 minute walk and would be manageable with roller luggage; but you will need to use a cell-phone mapping program or have a map in hand, as there are a couple of turns that are not well marked.

Stirling Castle is part of the Explorer Pass.

Stirling Castle is well worth half a day. The cafe has a terrace that is a great place for a late lunch at the end of your visit to the castle.
Stirling--Stirling Castle
Allow ample time to tour the various rooms with medalion ceiling and the related displays describing the people and fashions depicted. For the history-minded, this is probably the place to allocate most of your time budget after taking the docent-led walking tour of the castle.
Stirling--Stirling Castle
Stirling--Stirling Castle
The view from the top of the Wallace National Monument is impressive, but it is fairly crowded and not a place for quiet contemplation as you recover from the climb.
Wallace National Monument

Day 9–June 25–Train from Edinburgh to Glasgow

We had a leisurely breakfast and got to the train station a little after noon. The walk from the hotel to the Edinburgh Waverly train station was about 100 meters. The train to Glasgow Central took about an hour; we were running early so we had lunch at the station before catching the train to Paisley, now a suburb of Glasgow. From the station, we hopped a bus for a 10 minute ride to a stop about 50 yards from our Airbnb lodgings. The bus was £6 for the two of us. IIt would have been cheaper to take a taxi. Our hostess drove us back to town for dinner at an Italian place near the train station. We walked through the old town before dinner, and then walked home (about a mile).

Our walk of the town included the Paisley Abbey where Kristin’s great-great grandfather and mother were married. The choir section to the left collapsed in the middle ages and would not have been there when they were married. It was rebuilt during the Victorian era. On our last full day in Scotland, we would go to a service at the church and join the parishioners for coffee and some delightful conversation.

We spent most of the afternoon and evening planning the week, but that plan did not survive long.

The Paisley Abbey is an impressive building today, and would have been more so when it was originally constructed beginning in the 1400s.
Paisley--Paisley Abbey at Sunset

Day 8–June 24–NEHGS Tour of Edinburgh

This was the last day of the seminar, and I got to join Kristin and the other seminar participants for the day. The New England Historical and Genealogical Society (NEHGS) organized a tour of the Greyfriars Church for the morning, followed by a late-morning/early afternoon tour of the National Museum and finishing up with a tour of the Lamont House on Charlotte Square.

The Greyfriars Church tour was fascinating for the amount of detail on some of the tombstone inscriptions; I think some of the inscriptions ran to 50 or 60 words. The yard used for the Covenanter’s Prison reminded me of the football stadiums and other buildings that have been used for prisons in Chile and other nations in modern times.

The National Museum was worth much more than the two hours that we had. In particular, I want to spend more time with the Atmospheric Engine as I do not think the Henry Ford or other US museums have a similar specimen. The section on the history of weaving technology was insteresting and useful, as the ancestor that I am researching was probably a weaver before emmigrating to the U.S.–his probate in Pennsylvania lists a loom as a named item. One woman participating in the seminar had a series of ancestors who were “beetler&rsquos;s” and all became deaf. After seeing a beetling machine for pounding linen cloth smooth, we immediately understood why they all went deaf shortly after entering the workforce.

The Lamont house is interesting for the kitchen and the fashion history exhibits. It is well worth the visit.

We finished the day with a banquet dinner, where several people talked about their research breakthroughs. One talked of viewing a 14th Century document, while another talked of the court case file regarding the railroad accident death of an ancestor. One remarked that she had confirmed that she does not have any common relatives with President Trump, despite the fact that his mother and her ancestors come from the same island.

The NEGHS tour started with the cemetery of Greyfriar’s Church. The historical and art history trends in the headstones were quite interesting, all the more since Kristin discovered that one of her ancestors was a monument maker.
Edinburgh--Greyfriars Kirk and Cemetery

Day 7–June 23–Bus Tour of the Highlands

I got breakfast early and walked across the street to the Rabbie’s bus tour office for an all-day tour of the Highlands. It turned out that I was the only native English speaker on the tour and the only lone traveler; the bus driver asked me to sit in the jump seat. It has a great view, but is uncomfortable. It was worth it.

Along the way, the driver pointed out the valley where portions of Skyfall were filmed, the castle where Monty Python and the Holy Grail was filmed, the mountainside where the Buckbeak execution was filmed in Harry Potter and the Sourcerer’s Stone, and the house used for the Monarch of the Glen TV series. I do not know if anyone else understood the cultural references.

The Highlands are quite beautiful. I have seen a lot of glacial geology, but none that was so green.

We had dinner at an Italian place in a district recommended by the Toastmasters pub group. It was one of the better Italian meals I have had.

The first rest stop on the trip was at a loch where two women were doing an open water training swim. The air temperature was quite cold; I can only imagine the water temperature.
Loch Ness and Highlands Tour--Whose Shoes?
The Scottish Highlands are beautiful and have a great deal of history. This stop was at the location of the Massacre of Glencoe.
Loch Ness and Highlands Tour--Site of Glencoe Massacre
There are three bridges across the Firth of Fourth at Edinburgh; the old bridge constructed in the Victorian era, the new bridge constructed in the 1960s, and the newest bridge which is largely finished but which will not take traffic for another few months.
Loch Ness and Highlands Tour--Old Firth Bridge
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