Archive for Scotland

Scotland day five

Urquhart Castle towerLoch Ness diving suitGuess where this isUrquhart Castle on a windy dayUrquhart CastleEntrance to Urquhart Castle
Scotish highlandsScottish highlands roadWaterfall in Scottish highlandsNot such a nice day in the highlands

Scotland day five, a set on Flickr.

Left Inverness after staying at the same B & B. Drove about 50 min down to Loch Ness. They had an interactive exhibition centre that explained to us the public sightings & scientific research that has gone on to try to solve the loch Ness monster debate. Unfortunate we are still left wondering. The lake is the biggest in Britain & most famous in the world. A short distance away is Urquart Castle overlooking the shores of Loch Ness and the mountains beyond. Because of time constants we only had time to view & photograph from the carpark. We did get our book stamped to prove we had been there. The attendant was not that impressed that we had not gone through as she said this was the best castle in the country. Just could not afford the time as we had to catch our flight back to London from Edinburgh and we still had to drive another 3hrs.
We wished that we had left more time for this part of Scotland as it is absolutely beautiful. It reminded us of the west cost of the South Island with a little of the East coast thrown in.
The ride over the Highlands was amazing and just like we had imagined it to be.
Arrived in to Edinburgh with less than an hour to spare and caught our flight back to London.
Scotland has captured our hearts and would highly recommend it as a place to visit but you need about 2 weeks minimum other wise you just brush the edges even then you would still need more. It’s a bit like trying to see the South Island in 5 days…you just can not do it justice. The people of Scotland are warm and friendly and we always felt more than welcome.

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Scotland day four

Kinkell House our B&B InvernessLiitle house on the Cullloden Battle fieldDallas Dhu malt storeDallas Dhu 2That's a lot of fermenting alcoholCellars were it is all kept for many years
Barrels of Benmore whiskyDallas Dhu distilleryFire engine inside the Dallas Dhu distilleryDallas DhuEntrance to DistilleryYou do not see this in NZ
Inside the Benromach distilleryA quaint fishing villageInverness Castle

Scotland day four, a set on Flickr.

A little bit of sunshine today but deteriorated later i’m afraid. Jennifer GPS successfully took us to the site of The Battle of Culloden (Scottish Gaelic: Blàr Chùil Lodair) Taking place on 16 April 1746, the battle pitted the Jacobite forces of Charles Edward Stuart (bonny prince Charley) against an army commanded by William Augustus, Duke of Cumberland, loyal to the British government. The Jacobite cause to overthrow the reigning House of Hanover and restore the House of Stuart to the British throne was dealt a decisive defeat at Culloden. It was a bloody battle mainly because the runner from Charlie’s army was killed before he could give the signal to fight to the various leaders of the Scottish clansmen, so the English had a half hour start with cannons & muskets before the Scots realized what was happening & charged. We got to carry the broad swords, dirks & very heavy muskets the the Scots would carry as they ran across the boggy ground. Hard work in it’s self without having to then turn around & fight – they must have been supper fit. Adding to the atmosphere the rain & hail came down when we had decided to go out onto the field.
Next onto the Dallas Dhu historic whiskey distillery which was closed in 1986. They still have some whiskey from that time for £90 a bottle but the lady told us they are selling on e bay for £250. One man recently came & brought £5000 worth cos eventually the remaining stock is going to run out. We got to sample the blended sort not the expensive one – still it was very smooth, so brought a little miniature one to bring home. Having now wet the Whiskey appetite & another distillery only a short distance away we were off agin. This one named Benromach is a small working distillery and when it opened in 1996 prince Charles signed the first barrel which is on display in the cellars. Another wee dram was par taken which we liked even better than the first.
Next we just when on a wee tour around a seaside village – well within the drinking & driving limit of course. Back to the B & B for wee nap for Steve while I write this then off to find somewhere to have tea
We found a great bar called ‘The Room’ that had a very nice meal for a reasonable price and also a band which we listened to for a while. Interesting to note that it didn’t start to get dark until 10 pm and that the city was humming with the party goers at this earlier time than they would have been at home.
Another great day.

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Scotland day three

The queens gardenCanons at Stirling CastleThe grand hall Stirling CastleEntrance to Stirling CastleInside the grand hallWindows in the hall
Her Royal Highnesstunnels to the tapestry workersWhere to from hereThe garden where Queen Mary Of Scots would walkView of the Stirling Castle from William Wallace monument
William Wallace monument from the car parkFrom Stirling Castle with William Wallace monument in the backgroundLevel 2 William Wallace monumentStained glass windows in the William Wallace monumentWilliam Wallace's swordWilliam Wallace had a big sword
ground level in the William Wallace monumentOn top of the William Wallace monumentOn top of the William Wallace monument2looking up to the very peak of the monumentSt. Ninians cemeterylooking down the spiral stair case

Scotland day three, a set on Flickr.

Today started off with a wonderful breakfast courtesy of Linda at the Kilronan guest house.
We then headed to Stirling Castle. The great hall outside was painted with a lime wash to a colour known as ‘King’s Gold’. Inside it was huge with massive thick drapes around the perimeter to keep the drafts out, 5 huge fireplaces
You could almost hear the trumpets and musicians playing from their alcoves above the hall and the maids and lords all dancing or in conversation around the huge fireplace with the king sitting at the end on his chair watching his court. The exposed beams ceiling was about the equivalent to three stories above the floor. Goodness knows how they built them so high. Our tour guide was very apologetic that the Grand Palace Room which has taken 8 years to restore, was going to open to the public next week.
This is Scotland’s most heavily fortified castles and was known as the gateway to Scotland. Over the years it has been lost and regained by the Scots several times including once by William Wallace (Brave Heart). We learned that there where several historical inaccuracies in the movie like the fact that William Wallace never wore a kilt or painted his face blue.. In one of the photos of a statue of one of the Kings you can see the William Wallace Monument in the distance.
After the Castle we ventured to climb to the top of the William Wallace Monument navigating all 249 steps up a very skinny spiral staircase. At different levels along the way you could stop to see displays about the history of the man. The photos show a room with his sword another with busts of important people who had parts to play in Scottish history including our own Robbie Burns (said ‘Rabbie Burns’) and the top that was so windy we could hardly stand up, but the view was magnificent.
From here we drove to St Ninians, this is where the Donaldson (Steven’s mums) side of Steven’s family originated from. Unfortunately the cemetery was closed. However we did get some photos of the local church and the grave yard in the church grounds.
Our next stop was Pithlochry In Bloom, this is where Sheree’s wee Nana’s (McLean – Sheree’ dad) side of the family originate from. This was a very picturesque village and almost picture perfect as you can see from the photo looking down the main St.
Our last stop before Inverness was the town of Aviemore were we got a view picks under the sign at the entrance to the town and one further down. Felt wee had to stop here for the signifigance to where we go camping in Nth Otago. We had tea here at one of the local pubs called Papa Rock but don’t go there cos it wasn’t very nice. It was after 9pm before we finally arrived into our B&B at Inverness.

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Scotland day two

KitchenAll aboard BritanniaThe helmRoyal coupleThe Queens bedroom
Officers messBanquet roomA gift from NZThe sitting or entertainment roomStair caseOperating theatre
The laundryThe tender used for taking the Queen ashoreImmaculate engine roomLinlithgrow Palace court yardScotland's oldest fountain
Palace views for the kingthat's bigView from the kings bedroomThe grand hallCarvings on the fountainview from the turret

Scotland day two, a set on Flickr.

We had a great sleep in a tiny & I mean tiny wee room in Edinburgh at the Easy Hotel. There was not enough room to walk around the bed & we both couldn’t stand side by side but it had a great shower & comfy bed. After breakfast at a near by cafe we walked back along Princess St (again) to the Waverly train station to pick up our hire car which we finally got after negotiating the reconstruction that was going on around the station. Well thank goodness for Jennifer (the GPS), she had us Ocean Terminal in no time. Here we received our boarding passes for the Royal ship Britannia.
The next hour or so was spent walking around on a self guided tour with audio headsets to explain what we were seeing. The Queen & hubby can’t of got up to much as they only had small single beds, plus she would often work on official paperwork until after midnight. The only double bed on the ship was put in when Charles & Diana went on their honeymoon in 1981. The bedrooms were not opulent on the Queens request she wanted the ship to simulate a country home. There was a private sun deck with an adjoining room like a conservatory. This decked area was where all the family photo’s were taken on each voyage the family went on. Many of these photo’s are on loan & displayed throughout the ship. So of course we had to have our photo taken in that same spot as well.
The state banquet room had a HUGE table & on the walls were displays of gifts from different countries including NZ. Adjoining this room was a reception room were 250 guests could be entertained or the family would play cards, do jigsaw puzzles or play on the baby grand piano (including DIana). Apart from the royal suites we also saw the crew’s cramped quarters, the various mess halls, the police quarters (who always travelled with the Royal family). The laundry could handle 600 shirts per day and was always busy as many of the officers had to change uniforms several times per day. The Captain may have had to change up to 12 times per day. The engine room was immaculate with highly polished brass pipes. Eight engineers were rostered on at any one time to keep the ship going in tip top condition. Also on display was the boat they would go ashore on.
Then it was off on our way to Stirling via a visit to Linlithgow Palace. The ruins of Linlithgow Palace are situated in the town of Linlithgow, West Lothian, Scotland, 15 miles (24 km) west of Edinburgh. The palace was one of the principal residences of the monarchs of Scotland in the 15th and 16th centuries. It is now a visitor attraction in the care of Historic Scotland. The palace centre piece is Scotland’s oldest and still operational fountain.
We did not arrive at our beautiful B&B in a grand old, beautifully kept, stone, two story mansion in one off Stirling’s most affluential areas until after 9pm.

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Scotland day one

Scotland day one, a set on Flickr.


The day started early with a 6am wake up to get the tube to King Cross and then catch the 8am overland train to Edinburgh. It is as if there is a rule to get lost in your own world with ear plugs from your iPhone, read a book or a kindle, or just sit there sleeping or looking blankly into space. Any way these two were no different, which was fine as there was no need to try and make polite conversation. They both got off half way to Edinburgh so then we had the table to ourselves. The train travels along very quickly and smoothly and as we got closer to Edinburgh the country side started resembling Otago more and more, with the green paddocks and rugged coast lines all looking very familiar.
We arrived into Edinburgh just after midday at the Waverley Station. Edinburgh was a lot busier than I had expected, very similar to London in terms of busyness. Lots of double decker tourist type hop on hop off buses and taxis at the station. We had to make our way down Princes St (yes just about every street has a familiar Dunedin name) to the Easy Hotel, this was about a 20 min walk.
As we could not check in until after 3pm we decided to visit the Edinburgh Castle which we could see looming up high on the hill above Princes St. About another 20min walk and quite a few steps later via a side entrance we were at the castle. We joined a free guided tour that explained about every thing before you are left to explore on your own. We saw the beautiful crown jewels of Scotland, The stone of Destiny that is still used at coronations. We had recently watched a movie about this stone so it was great to actually see it. There are displays of the many wars dating back hundred of years and an amazing chapel dedicated to all the Scots who have lost there lives in battle right up to today. Their names are kept in books around the parameter of the big hall.
After checking in and having a bit of a rest in our room we went to a Chinese buffet tea at Jimmy Changs which was very good value. Then it was back up the hill to explore the old Edinburgh town which is just as you would imagine with lots of small cobble stone Streets with tugged away alleys, quant shops and pubs. We made a booking for a ghost and Gauls walking tour that takes you to the underground cellars beneath this old part of town. Stuart our guide was funny and had lots of interesting stories along the way. It was in the cellars at close to midnight that he blew out the only source of light, which was the candle in his hand, leaving our small group in the pitch black. This was after explaining about true and documented stories of sightings of ghosts in the very cramped cellar we were standing in that it got truly scary.
By this time we were quite tired and after the walk back to the hotel sleep was all we wanted.

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