Stirling Saturday

Stirling Travel Blog

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Due to the fact that there wound up being no meet-up today (and due to only getting five hours sleep in order to be up in time for breakfast in my hotel), I decided to spend one last day sightseeing in another town in Scotland…Stirling.

Stirling is home of two of the greatest (only?) military victories in Scottish history, Stirling Bridge and Banockburn.  These are the two victories made famous (however inaccurately) in the movie Braveheart (not the defeat in the middle…that was Falkirk…which doesn’t seem to get as much local pomp…I wonder why?).

Stirling is also home to a castle that rivals, if not exceeds Edinburgh Castle and the monument to Sir William Wallace, Braveheart himself.

I dragged myself up to Waverly Station and caught the 10:33 train to Stirling and proceeded to spend the next five and a half hours sightseeing.  I started by walking through the old town and back walk up to the castle and going on the free guided tour of the castle.  The guide was quite knowledgeable and entertaining.  Amazing that this entire castle, the subject of all of these major battles in the war for Scottish Independence, was built AFTER the wars ended…the original castle was entirely destroyed by Robert the Bruce after the battle of Banockburn.  Everything here today was started by his grandson and continuously added on to until the 19th century.

After spending a little more than an hour and a half in the castle, I caught the Stirling Sightseeing Bus…normally I don’t go on these, but due to the distances to the Wallace Monument and Banockburn, I figured today would be a good exception.  I took the bus past the new old Stirling Bridge, through the town of Bridge of Allan and University of Stirling over to The National Wallace Monument with its narrow 246-step spiral staircase.  I love these things!  Here you can see William Wallace’s original sword complete with human skin-wrapped hilt…no joke!   The sword’s handle is wrapped in the skip of Edward I’s tax collector!  Gives me new ideas for how to deal with the IRS…

From the Wallace monument, I headed over to the battlefield for the Battle of Bannockburn…another historic battlefield sight with far less monuments and commercialization than Gettysburg or similar US battlefields.  I much prefer this European way.  This is the most important military victory in Scottish history, and there’s a flag, a statue of Robert the Bruce, and a visitor center with a short movie, a few exhibits and an opportunity to try on chain mail armor and some other activities for the kids.  Very refreshing compared to the multi-million dollar visitor center extravaganza I saw recently in Gettysburg.  There’s a short (12-minute) film in the audio-vision center which I must say I enjoyed…they seem to realize that a large portion of the visitors to this site are younger males who like blood and guts…especially the pre-film talk from one of the younger employees seemed to focus on the violent deaths of some of the key players.  All good fun!

Popped back on the bus for the ride back into Stirling proper where I grabbed a late lunch/early dinner/first beer (around 5PM) and listened to some music at Nicky-Tams before heading back to Edinburgh for my final night at the Fringe.

For the final night, the option was once more, free comedy.  Saw a couple decent shows…and one that really tanked…but then, the price was right.  Wanted to do the comedy pub crawl, but supposedly the comic got into an accident the night before and the event was cancelled.  Would have been nice to notify though, around 10 people were waiting at the meeting point, but the host never appeared.  Found out it was cancelled when I happened to spot the Emcee of one of the prior night’s events wandering by and he was able to shed a little light.

Called it a relatively early night to fly the next day.  I had a great time in Edinburgh and can’t wait to visit again…

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photo by: ulysses