Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Day 23: Stirling

A slow start. We managed to pack ourselves into the car with our (three!) suitcases by 10:45am. I look forward to returning! We stopped by a Shell petrol station (I shamed myself by buying six Tunnock's Tea Cakes!) then took a scenic route to Stirling (we got stuck behind a truck for ages!).

The crags around Stirling are gorgeous though wind turbines crowd onto one of them. The Wallace Monument peeks above the trees on its hill, the head of it quite visible - more visible than Stirling Castle as you drive towards the city. Rain dogged us as we neared the monument much to my distress, but it petered off as we emerged from our car.

Quite a pleasant visitor centre - and a pleasant walk up to the monument (you can choose to amble up a gentle winding path or trek up a steeper option). There is a courtesy bus to and from the top. The monument was tall, thrusting into a blue sky, a spire that reaches just as Scotland reaches for the meaning of freedom in a character called Wallace. 

Why, yes, I have climbed the 246 steps inside.

Our dizzying climb inside was conducted on a narrow winding staircase - this involved one person having to flatten themselves to the wall if someone was travelling the opposite way. There were three levels inside - respites from the dangers facing us on the stairs! 

Be wary of backpacks when squeezing past others on those stairs.

First level - boards explaining the William Wallace legend and a scarily good screen positioned on a body that was filled with the face of an actor playing the defensive Wallace. We gawped at his actual sword which was on display.

On the next level was the “Hall of Heroes”. Here lived busts of stones from the 19th century (the monument itself was built by the late 19th century), constructed in the likenesses of famous great men including Robert the Bruce, William Wallace, David Livingstone and James Watt!

Level three was filled with boards providing a history on the monument’s construction. All funds were raised by the public. Wallace is more than legend. Cazy ascended to the roof after me. So windy!! But it was worth it for the excellent views of Stirling.


I burst down the stairs so quickly I felt out of sorts - nearly bowled over other people climbing the narrow steps in the process - and hit the gift shop. We meandered down to the other gift shop via a lookout and a costumed performer who caught my eye, much to my embarrassment. We bought more souvenirs and chilled in the cafe before heading to our hotel in the heart of Stirling Old Town.

We passed the town wall which is very distinctive - very exciting! The hotel then made me furious as they gave us a double room despite my booking requiring a twin. Then the next room they gave us was also a double! I had to keep lugging my stuff backwards and forwards and so ended up a sweaty, raving mess beside Cazy’s cool. Finally, the last room was split into a twin and we dumped our luggage before seeking the city walls on foot.

I abruptly lost my way so Cazy took us through the shopping centre where we found a niche among the shops that contained the remains of a wall tower (free admission!) which gave as a sign that we were in the correct area. We left the shopping centre and found the wall then followed it all the way up to where our hotel was. The wall was right below our hotel window - how did I miss that!?

The city walls

We later did dinner at a nice Italian restaurant and briefly walked in Old Town (so many vacant shops - and some suspiciously young girls smoking). Back to the hotel - I finished Broadchurch! Did not expect that killer.

Cazy had a hilarious time in the shower - I rang reception to discover we were doing the right thing to turn it on, though it did not seem to be working. Cazy tried again - fully clothed - and was splattered. 



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