Commentary and pictures from our trip to the UK.

Tuesday, July 26, 2005

The Explorer Pass

We purchased an Explorer's Family Pass from the Historic Scotland society. It gives us unlimited access to Historic Scotland properties for several days. Our experience with museums and children lead us to believe that castles and such go better with kids. We were right.

We started our day with Stirling Castle, another of the royal castles. It is located in town of Stirling about 30 miles outside of Edinburgh. We really glad we rented a car for this trip.

We enjoyed Stirling Castle, but the big, royal castles are different than other castles. They're more like forts with palaces on their grounds than castles. Nevertheless, a good time was had by all.

We left Stirling and headed for Castle Campbell located in the village of Dollar. After a great lunch at King's Seat, a local free house, we drove up the hill to the Castle. As Campbells, we were especially intrigued by what we might find.

Castle Campbell was aqcuired through a Campbell-Stewart marriage as part of a dowry. It was strategically important to the powerful Highland Campbells as it gave them a lowland presence very near the royal court.

Castles seem indestructable, and they are from the outside. However, inside their stone and mortar walls, important elements like the floors are frequently made of wood. This castle, like many, had at one time burned, so most of what remained was ruin. Still, it was great to see the place.

We left Castle Campbell and headed to Lochleven Castle. Lochleven Castle is literally in the middle of Loch Leven on a small island. This castle is notable as a place Mary Queen of Scots was imprisoned for about a year. More on that can be found here. Aside from the historical significance of the place, we thought the kids would get a huge kick out of the ferry ride. They did.

We returned to Edinburgh exhausted and hungry. We wandered about the Bruntsfield Links area (where our hotel was/is), and found an interesting (as in not too pricey, though everything in the UK is very expensive) Chinese eatery called Lee On. We knew it was a good Chinese place because we were the only Caucasians present. It proved to be the best, most varied meal we'd had in some time.

Pictures from our day can be found here.


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