Tuesday 19th April, 2011
London to Edinburgh
We awoke early today, picked up our hire car which ended up being a 5-door Vauxhall Corsa, sort of like the new Astra – it was much nicer and bigger than we expected.
We made our way to the ring road and eventually on to the A1 heading NORTH.
After around 8 hours of driving, we finally reached the land of the McFarlanes. The land of tartans, haggis and rolling hills with hairy coos, with black-faced white sheep with tails, and lots of little lambs…
We are looking forward to exploring Edinburgh and it’s surrounds tomorrow. Who knows where we will lay our weary heads tomorrow as we have no accommodation booked.
We will ‘wing’ a bed…
Wednesday 20th April, 2011
We spent most of the day exploring beautiful Edinburgh. The city is just spectacular, sooo much to look at and take pics of – lucky we bought a spare camera battery! We just loved the very old part of the city; we also visited the castle which is built on a huge rock on top of a hill overlooking it.
A highlight of the castle visit was seeing the Scottish royal crown jewels, which were not allowed to be photographed 😢, in the protected bowels of the castle. It’s hard to articulate just how spectacular everything is, hopefully the photos will do it some justice….
We had a great lunch in a little old pub in the old part of town and yes we did actually try haggis and it was very tasty for sheep heart, lung and liver…
We left Edinburgh around 4pm to find a little lovely B & B which we came across in the village of Callander which is between Edinburgh and Glasgow. Cost, $25 GBP for the room and 2 breakfasts, noice!
Local information gleaned from the B & B owner…priceless!
Thursday 21st April 2011
Callendar to Doune Castle to Glasgow
Wade’s Birthday…Happy Birthday my darling.
After breakfast we went for a scenic drive around what we were told is one of the prettiest loops in Scotland. We have learnt that the fog we encounter every day is called ‘Scottish Mist’ and if you can get up on a hill, you can get above it and see the blue sky and only the mist below.
We have been extraordinarily fortunate with the weather as it’s not uncommon to have snow here this time of year. We did see snow on the mountains. The days have been crisp but beautiful.
We went to Doune Castle which is the medieval castle that features in Monty Python’s Holy Grail. What a great spectacle it was and we were able to climb in and out of nearly every room and turret – it was much more accessible than Edinburgh Castle but 1/10 of the size.
In our search for McFarlane history, we went to a village called Arrochar where we found what used to be ‘McFarlane House’ which was built in 1697.
There is a stone above the front door of the house which we couldn’t read as it was in Gaelic but translated as ‘it was on this very spot that John, Chief of the McFarlane Clan had his original home’.
The original McFarlane Homestead was built in 1225.
(EDIT 2020: McFarlane House is now The Claymore Hotel)
We then went to the next village of Luss, on the shores of Loch Lomond, where we saw the McFarlane Stones (three stones in the wall of the local church) which is a memorial to the Clan Chiefs dating from 1612 and is inscribed with ‘after death remains virtue’…
So endeth the history lesson…
For more McFarlane history, check out this page
We then headed to Glasgow to celebrate Wade’s birthday and we treated ourselves to a night at Sherbrooke Castle Hotel…
We are impressed, expectations exceeded. We are about to have a lovely dinner at their restaurant down stairs.
Friday 22nd April, 2011
Glasgow to Stoke-On-Trent
We woke from our best night’s sleeps yet! We could have easily stayed at the castle for a few days, but alas, all good things must come to an end… today we explored Glasgow. It was a chilly 6.5 degrees start at 9am – Glasgow was so cold but it got to 13 degrees by 2pm.
The old part of town was quite beautiful, the new part, not so. We saw quite a few hard-looking stereotypical Glasweigans in town as well as an abundance of vomit in the streets, remnants of a hard nights drinking in a hard city.
We passed on that particular photo opportunity…
We left just after lunch and headed down the M6 in search of a few more castles. We took a very scenic drive through some stunning country side and stumbled across Drumlanrig Castle and manor house which is occupied and owned privately.
We didn’t go in to this one but saw the opulence from the outside.
We continued to Dumfries which is another beautiful old town we liked the name of…
… then to Caerlaverock Castle which was in the middle of nowhere and was another medieval marvel… only this time with a moat.
We ended up at Stoke-on-Trent for our overnight stay.