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FREEDOM! Reliving Braveheart in Scotland!

Day 9, Scotland: Visiting Stirling and the Sword of William Wallace then onto Endinburgh and then south out of Scotland!

I wanted to sleep in after that day of nonstop whisky on Islay, but knew I didn’t have the luxury. Up before 9 am for breakfast, I found it to be quite ordinary breakfast with a Scottish twist of haggis and black pudding. Though we were in a castle, I guess my expectation of a kitchen wench coming out, haphazardly spilling the tray of ale she carried, was a bit too far fetched.

Broomhall Castle
Our hotel, Broomhall Castle built in 1874, was a private home and boys prep school before it burnt down… now it’s a hotel!

Wallace Monument

I couldn’t wait to retrace Braveheart in Scotland and relive the history through the actual places. The park was only a five-minute drive and after we arrived, I found I was the only one interested in climbing up the 246 steps to the top of the tower. As everyone was waiting for me, not only did I have to climb the stairs, I had to SPRINT up them three at a time!

Wallace Monument
The entrance to the Wallace Monument.

Wallace Monument William Wallace Statue
He kills men by the hundreds, and if he were here he’d consume the English with fireballs from his eyes and bolts of lightning from his arse. – Braveheart

I originally thought the monument was a tower recently built, but surprisingly it was constructed in 1869 in Victorian Gothic style. Throughout the different floors they had three exhibitions: Wallace’s life story, the Hall of Heroes where they displayed statues of famous Scots, and the building of the monument.

The only real item of interest is Wallace’s supposed original sword. Legend says that the original hilt was made from the dried skin of English commander Hugh Cressingham from the Battle of Stirling!

Wallace Sword
The Wallace Sword is 5 feet 6 inches (168 cm) long and weighs 6 lbs.

Crown of Wallace Memorial
The monument is built on Abbey Craig where Wallace supposedly watched the gathering of the English army in preparation for the battle. From the top of the tower, you could see all of modern Stirling and the open fields around the monument where the Battle of Stirling Bridge took place. I replayed the battle in my head on the fields below, but the only scenes I could imagine came from Braveheart and apparently that was not very true to the historical battle.

Stirling Castle

The castle was quite impressive and a well-run attraction. They provide the earpiece self tours included with your ticket and plenty of guides dressed in the style of the period to give a feel of the life in the castle during the time of Scottish kings.

Stirling Castle overlooking Stirling
Built sometime in the early 12th century, it sits atop a crag with steep cliffs on most sides, giving it an excellent defensive position.

Jester in Stirling Castle
This court jester explained that the first football was found in this castle!

Outside we noticed a CCTV crew there filming for Olympics footage. We had a brief chat because… well, we were the only Asians around.

Robert the Bruce statue at Stirling Castle
Our old friend, Robert the Bruce. “You Have bled with Wallace, now bleed with me!” – Braveheart

We also shocked a guide, when purchasing our entrance tickets.
Will you be going to see any other castles?
Yes, we’re going to Edinburgh.
If you go within three days you can use this ticket. When are you going?
Today.
I mean when are you going to Edinburgh?
Today…

Blank stare… I guess not too many people do both Stirling and Edinburgh in the same afternoon.

Stirling Castle Garden
The gardens at Stirling Castle.

After touring through the whole castle, we were on our way to Edinburgh.

We passed through Bannockburn, where Robert the Bruce let the Scottish rebels to victory and Falkirk where Wallace was defeated by the English. They fought like warrior poets; they fought like Scotsmen, and won their freedom. – Braveheart

Edinburgh

The second largest city in Scotland and the capital, Edinburg was like any large European city. We drove straight to the historic center where the castle was. Old Town was beautiful with small cobblestone streets and plenty of medieval buildings. Edinburgh Castle was our destination.

Edinburgh Castle on Castle Rock
Perched on the top of Castle Rock and dates back to the 12th century.

At the entrance we saw the seating being prepared for the Edinburgh Military Tattoo, a yearly military musical performance. Too bad we were going to miss it!

Edinburgh Castle
Edinburgh Castle was much more crowded with large tour groups released from the mega tour buses.

We skipped the line as we had our tickets from Stirling and did the tour throughout the Castle.
Edinburgh Castle Center
Center square of Edinburgh castle. It was more impersonal but still a well maintained site.

View onto Edinburgh
Military Tattoo seating in view and the Old Town in the background.

I also went through the National War Museum, which is located on the castle grounds.

National War Museum
Bronze Statue of the controversial Earl Haig, WWI commander in front of the National War Museum

After a few hours we concurred the castle and went around the Old Town. I stopped in for the Scotch Whisky Experience with the biggest whisky collection in the world.

Whisky Experience
Happy to see that the huge store did NOT have some of the limited edition whiskies I bought. Winning!

I also went into the Tartan Weaving Mill and Exhibit. Talk about a tourist trap. The mill was manned by machined manikins that creaked and rattled as the mechanics forced them to “weave” on non-functioning looms with no thread.

Weaving Mill
To escape from this sad scene, you had to walk through a maze of tourist shops.

That was Edinburgh in a few hours.

Tantallon Castle

We wanted to see one last castle before the day’s end so we drove to the tiny coastal town of East Lothian. Our fourth castle of the day was unfortunately closed when we arrived, but that didn’t stop us! Hopping over the car gate we walked about a mile until we saw the castle.

Tantallon Castle
This mid-14th-century fortress sits with an impressive view of the sea, with cliffs on three sides.

Tantallon Castle Entrance
It was a shell of its original self, having only the outer walls left. The draw-gates were unfortunately closed!

After our brief visit we were on a mission to find a delicious restaurant. We ended up in the cute seaside town of Eyemouth and found a gem of a restaurant. Churches Hotel & Seafood Restaurant was run by a very friendly couple who really took pride in details, from the daily fresh fish to the presentation and interior decoration, everything was wonderful. They even had the scallops delivered from the west of Scotland because they were hand-picked instead of trawled (which damages the sea floor and ecosystem).

Church Restaurant in Eyemouth
A feast for kings.

After a filling meal, we had to brace ourselves for a drive to our hotel north of York.

Scotland and England border
Goodbye Scotland…

Again arriving past midnight, our hotel reception’s computers were down so they couldn’t confirm our reservation. Then when trying to find us a room the ended up putting us in unmade rooms! I couldn’t believe it. The night ended with me walking with the staff to check each room to see which had been made up so we could take one! Ridiculous but looking back at the situation I can only laugh!
Scotland was amazing, I look forward to going back one day!

Tomorrow we were off to York then London!

David De Clercq

About David De Clercq

Founder and writer at World-Adventurer.com, David is on a mission to travel to every country in the world and has less than 10 countries left! He loves new adventures, unique cultures, historic landmarks, and luxurious hotels. Follow along as David shares a journey of a lifetime!