When we left Edinburgh, we started our road trip through the rest of Scotland. We spent a full day driving with the eventual destination being Broadford, a small village on the Isle of Skye. However, before we made our way to Skye, we made some pitstops at several iconic locations.
Stirling Castle was probably my favorite "official" stop on our journey north. Located at the tip top of a hill, Stirling Castle overlooks the adorable city of Stirling. If you've read my previous post about Linlithgow Palace, you'll know that I'm quite obsessed with Mary Queen of Scots who happened to be crowned, along with many other Scottish monarchs, at Stirling Castle. The structure has ties all the way back to the 12th century with additions and renovations being continuously made until recent times. The castle also has significant ties to the Scottish Wars of Independence so I was in heaven. It's been said that the castle is haunted, too, by Mary herself.
Stirling Castle was also included in our Explorer Pass through Historic Scotland (I'm telling you, it's a great deal!) so we got to enter for free. We had great weather for most of the time that we were at the castle so we wandered the gardens & courtyards quite a bit. I wasn't so much into the exhibit that was on display, which was a series of historic wooden silhouettes called the Stirling Heads. However, wandering through the newly restored chambers while sipping a (very affordable & delicious!) cafe au lait was so much fun.
The National Wallace Monument
The Wallace Monument, created in honor of famed William Wallace, is a very short car ride away from Stirling Castle so we knew we had to stop by even though it wasn't included in our Explorer Pass. We decided it would be worth it to spend a little bit of extra cash to see something so distinctly Scottish and infused with Scottish pride. If you're not familiar with William Wallace, don't immediately reach for the movie Braveheart. While I love the movie, it has tons of inaccuracies (I'm looking at you, Mel Gibson - it was the battle of Stirling Bridge). William Wallace was a member of the lesser nobility, who ended up being made a knight as well as the guardian of the kingdom. He led the Wars of Scottish Independence and fought at Falkirk & Stirling and became a national symbol for patriotism.
The monument itself was completed in 1869 and is essentially a tower with various floors to visit that are filled with artifacts & information. To reach the top, home to sweeping views of Stirling, the castle, and beyond, you must climb up a spiral staircase of 246 steps. It doesn't sound too difficult on paper, but actually walking in literal circles with people going up & down made it a little challenging. The exhibits and views, though, make it so worth it.
This is a place that I was so looking forward to visiting and it definitely did not disappoint. From hiking the hills to the monument to the breathtaking views from the top, I recommend making the time to visit the Wallace Monument if you're in Stirling, even for just a short amount of time.
Like the Wallace Monument, Doune Castle is a short drive from Stirling and definitely worth a trip. Defined as a "medieval stronghold," the castle was built in the 15th century by the Stewarts. Although this castle is rich in history, royal family drama, & murder, my motivation for visiting the castle revolves around the Starz television show Outlander.
I love the Outlander novels by Diana Gabaldon (keep up with which one I'm reading here) and when the show was made I loved how it began to bring the characters, times, and locations alive. Doune Castle is used for Castle Leoch, a fictional castle in the novels where Jamie & Claire, the main characters, meet. It was so awesome to see the castle up close and personal, and to see the differences from the show. If you've seen Monty Python and the Holy Grail, this castle might also look familiar to you; it's where the movie was filmed. I also recently started watching Game of Thrones, too, after reading the books, and Doune Castle is used for Winterfell in this TV series. So many connections!
Even if you're not into these shows, a visit to the castle is still worth it because of its interesting history. The walk-through is quick and you can rent an audio guide to get all of the information possible. This castle was also included in our Explorer Pass so we saved money yet again!
Various Stops in Glen Coe
This was the not-so-planned portion of our Edinburgh to Skye road trip. We had planned to stop for dinner wherever we saw on the way - ended up being in quaint Callendar, so cute! - and head on to Skye. We took the long way through Glen Coe, somewhere we both really, really wanted to visit but compromised on a drive-through. We definitely underestimated its beauty and had to stop about a million times to ooh & awe and take a million photographs. We ended up making it to our BnB about three hours late (oops!) but our hosts were so gracious and completely understood why we had to stop and take in the sights - thanks Ann & Donny! Looking back at the pictures, they don't do the real deal justice. Just a gorgeous area that I'll let the photographs explain from here on out:
Hi, I'm Madeline
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