Sunday, June 13, 2010

Exploring Scotland One Castle at a Time

For ten years I've been talking about taking a trip to Scotland. For five of those years I scrimped and pinched and saved to be able to do it. And for the past two weeks I've been there. And it was well worth the money and the struggle to get there.

I thought I'd post just a little of our trip, whenever I could. And I'm starting with our first day there. We arrived in England on May 26th to find our flight to Edinburgh had been canceled. A strike by British Airways employees held all flights in and out of Heathrow Airport at a stand still. British Airways did arrange an alternative flight and we arrived in Edinburgh a little late and picked up our rental car from Eurocar.
OMG it was a brand new Mercedes with only 100 miles on the odometer.

Mitsi bit the bullet and climbed behind the wheel and off we went to our first Bed andBreakfast, Miller’s 64 on Pilrig Street.

Miller’s 64 was so clean you could eat off the floors. It’s a Victorian townhouse fully renovated. The stairs spiraled upward. A real challenge with our 50 pounds of luggage, but we rose to the occasion. After a short trek into town for an Italian dinner at a nearby restaurant we crashed from our 17 hour long trip.

The next morning at 8:15 we caught a taxi to Waterloo Place to meet up with our tour bus.

Down the street from our bus stop, the National Archives building sat with it’s impressive statue of Wellington in front. Wellington was the general who defeated Napoleon at the battle of Waterloo on June 18th, 1815. He was the British Prime Minister from 1769 to 1852.

From where we stood at the bus stop we could also see the Dugald Stewart Monument.

Stewart was a Scottish philosopher and professor of Mathematics who taught Sir Walter Scott at the University of Edinburgh.

Our bus arrived promptly at 8:45 and we boarded and sat back to enjoy our tour just south of the Scottish border to Norththumberland. We arrived in Scotland less than 24 hours before and we’re heading for England. Go figure.

We drove South to the border.
Along the way, the gorse plants caught my attention. I had read about them in books but never seen them. Gorse is a hardy plant that blooms all over Scotland and parts of Ireland. It is covered with thorns and the blossoms have a waxy feel to their petals. They smell lovely (as the Scots say).
Flax plants bloomed all along the way. The Scottish government encourages farmers to grow the plant and subsidizes it’s growth because of it’s many uses. The seeds can be used as a dietary supplement high in Omega-3 fatty acids that can lower cholesterol , can be used as a laxative, and may stunt tumor growth. It can also be used to create varnishes and paint polymers. And the stems are used for fibers with which to weave.
We crossed the border about an forty-five minutes later and had to stop to commemorate the occasion.
After a quick stop at the border, we arrived at Bamburgh Castle (pronounced Bambro by the Scots). It is one of the most impressive fortresses in Britain. It was used as the location for the movies of Mary Queen of Scots, MacBeth, El Cid, Becket, Ivanhoe, and Elizabeth. The place is massive and beautiful. Parts of the castle date back to 1066 when the Normans built a castle to replace the one destroyed by the Vikings in 993. That structure provided the core of the castle that now stands.
It’s perched above the beach on the Northeast coastline of England. The sea appeared so blue it looked surreal. I could have stayed there for hours.
Once you step inside the walls of the castle you are projected back in time.

I'll post more photos and commentary tomorrow.  I don't want to overload the images and info I give you.  But I'll complete our tour of Bamburgh and Alnwick Castles tomorrow.

Write on,
Teresa Reasor


Maddie James said...

Teresa, thank you! Simply beautiful. I want more!


Kathleen Bittner Roth said...

Lovely "guided tour" you gave with the photos. Love it. I was married in a private castle in Scotland. Many wonderful memories. Did you "feel" like you were in a sacred, old country when you drove around? Oh, any trouble with the steering wheel on the right-hand side? lol

Lexi said...

Great pics and commentary!

Katt said...

Wonderful pics. my ancestors were from Scotland but I'd never had any desire to go there... until I saw your pics and they look so familiar!

Beth Trissel said...

Fascinating! I love your post and your pics are fabulous.

Jody said...

Sounds like you were off to a good start. I love the Borders my favorite place in Scotland. Can't wait to read more.

Keena Kincaid said...

Great photos, Teresa. I love Brambrough Castle. Did you get down to Holy Island?

Maeve said...

I loved your post. My husband and I are traveling to Scotland and Ireland this fall. It's been at the top of our "Bucket List" for a long time now and we've finally save up enough to do it. So, you blog is a real treat. :-)

Paisley Kirkpatrick said...

Wonderful photos, There is just so much to see and remember, isn't there? So glad you had a great trip and thank you for sharing your photos. Never get enough Scotland and a wee bit of England is nice, too. :)

Annabelle Ambrosio said...

Enjoyed reading your blog and viewing the pictures.

Toni Anderson said...

Teresa, we left on the 24th May but thankfully not with BA :) Love seeing your pictures. I put a bunch on my own blog back in April if you want to compare.

Nicole North said...

Awesome pictures, Teresa! I'm enjoying reading about your trip!

Diana Mcc. said...

Wow! Pictures are great! Thanks for sharing your 'trip' with us.

Tracy Stewart said...

I'm so glad you had such a lovely trip. I wish like the dickens I could've gone with you!!!! Maybe next time. :)

Nancy said...

Beautiful photos. Really gives me a taste of Scotland. I hope t visit someday. Do you reccomend going the tour bus route?

Teresa Reasor said...

Thanks ladies for commenting. And I took 2500 pictures. I won't share them all, I promise. And I was very pleased with how they turned out.

The Bamburgh, Alnwick, William Wallace tour was the only tour we took. The rest of the time we drove ourselves. And driving on the opposite side of the road was a learning curve. It took a day to get your sense of depth to reverse itself. And the Scottish drivers will blow their horn if you do something wrong. The only problem is you don't have a clue what it was you did. But we survived without damage to our vehicle or anyone elses.
I'd do it again in a heartbeat. Having the car gave us the freedom to see parts of Scotland a tour doesn't cover.
I'll share some of those areas as well as the castles.
Read on,
Teresa Reasor