FRIDAY 24 JUNE
Last night I started to have a bit of a look online for accommodation in Edinburgh and the only accommodation available was VERY expensive. We knew that the Agricultural Show was on this weekend, which would have made things a bit busy. Therefore, we decided not to worry about going there, as it wasn’t something we were desperate to do and instead headed for Stirling, as we have heard the castle there is worth looking at.
Our journey south took us through Glen Shee, which was really picturesque.
We went past the ski fields. The temperature dropped to only 8 degrees C as we rode through. We went through this area in May 2007 and got snowed on with the temperature only being 3 degrees. I’m glad it was a little bit warmer and drier this time.
As I say each time we climb up, whatever goes up must go down.
Stirling Castle stands like a beacon as you approach the city.
We went to the tourist office to look for accommodation as soon as we arrived, only to be told that the town is just about booked out! We were going to have to settle for something on the outskirts of town, but when we were walking back to the bike there was a B & B nearby and I thought I’d just go and see if there were any vacancies and we struck gold. Yes, there was a vacancy, it is really central, is a lovely en suite room and inexpensive. We booked for two nights.
Now that we had somewhere to stay we ventured up the hill to the castle. It is different from the others we have visited, in that it has huge significance in how history has played out. The castle does not have original fittings, but Historic Scotland has been rebuilding the castle as it would have been. We were also allowed to take photos.
James IV built a palace for his French bride.
A feature of the Kings room is the Stirling Heads, which were carved from oak in great detail. The originals are on display in a special museum section of the castle, but have been recently reproduced and installed as they would have been.
The Queen’s bed chamber has also been recreated. There are actors around the castle to help create a feel of how things were.
Men’s fashions have changed just a little bit. Notice the “appendage” of this gent, which was the fashion of the time. I don’t know how it would be received in present times.
A major feature in the palace is the tapestries recreating the hunt of the unicorn. Each panel has taken four years to weave. The next panel is just about finished, with only the selvage to go. The full set of panels should be finished by the end of 2013. An incredible undertaking.
The exterior wall of the palace features several carved figures, which were a very new architectural style for the time of building.
The view is stunning. The hill in the foreground has a tower on the left, which is a little hard to see in this photo. It is the Wallace Monument to celebrate when William Wallace led the battle of Stirling Bridge. If you zoom in, you can seen a stone bridge, just next to where the battle was fought. Part of the reason there was not accommodation is that the Monument is having its 150th birthday TODAY! What a coincidence.
This statue is just outside the castle. It is to commemorate when Robert the Bruce won the battle of Bannockburn to also protect the castle.
Look at the date. 24 June 1314. TODAY is the anniversary of that victory. How incredible.
And another great thing today – it didn’t rain!