The block-like spire topped tower serves as a fitting memorial to such an important man. You can climb to the top of the tall tower, and the ascent doubles as a history lesson. The first level of the tower, 71 stairs up, contains a display which tells the story of Wallace’s life and the Battle of Stirling Bridge. A highlight of the display is the Wallace sword. At over five feet long, it’s incredible to think that anyone could ever wield the huge, heavy piece of metal as a weapon.
Two more levels include information about other notable Scotsmen and Stirling’s geographical layout. The top level of the tower provides spectacular views of the highlands’ breathtaking mountains. It’s definitely worth each of the 246 steps.
Much of Scotland’s
charm lies simply within its people and its countryside. Scottish people
seem to exude a sort of friendly cheerfulness and the views I had just
driving around the small, chilly country were enough to use up several
rolls of film. On the way to Loch Ness, we passed Craigievar Castle; a
tall, pink square building. Set in the vast woodlands, the castle was closed
to the public, but its green grounds were open for exploring.
the day we drove by, Lost also appeared to be closed to the public. The
road was blocked, and a box in front of the barrier allowed people to leave
mail and milk for the Lost people. I wasn’t too disappointed; I was still
able to get the compulsory picture of me under the Lost sign, looking slightly
confused and worried.
A trip to the Loch Ness Visitor Center proved it to be much more than a typical tourist trap. Besides all the usual t-shirts, magnets and stuffed toys for sale, the Center also includes a history of the Loch, and its monster. Photos and video document the story of the Loch Ness Monster, and I must say that I found the evidence to be interesting, shocking and rather convincing. Let’s just say that if I were to take a proper swim in the Loch, I wouldn’t be letting my legs dangle down too far…….
Scotland is famous for its castles. Carbisdale Castle isn’t the oldest, the most famous, or even the most spectacular, but it should be one that you make a point of visiting. For this is no ordinary castle; it lets you inside like no other castle can. Carbisdale Castle is now a hostel, and for a night or two, you can live like a prince or princess.
Half a mile from the village of Culrain on the south bank of the Kyle of Sutherland, Carbisdale Castle is a fairly modern building by castle standards. It was built between 1906 and 1917 for the Dowager Duchess of Sutherland, a lady with a rather scandalous past. Her second marriage, to George Granville William Sutherland Levenson-Gower, was what gave her the title of Duchess. The Sutherland family wasn’t exactly accepting of the marriage, and when the Duke died in 1892 leaving almost everything to his unpopular wife, his son and heir contested the will.
Duchess Blair, as she was known, destroyed vital documents and spent six weeks in Holloway Prison, London. Eventually, the Sutherland family agreed to a generous financial settlement, which included the building of a residence befitting a Duchess. Carbisdale Castle was built to the Duchess’s specifications, at the expense of the Sutherlands. The only catch was that it had to be outside of the Sutherland property.
I was so excited about sleeping in a bona fide castle, I hardly cared that it was too dark to see the outside when we drove through the stone gates. The reception area was fairly nondescript, but as we walked to our room, I was overcome by magic. A huge hallway with a wooden floor was my first glimpse of the castle’s interior. A white marble fireplace is surrounded by historical paintings on one of the dark maroon walls, and Italian statues lined the middle of the walkway. The white ceiling supports several hanging chandeliers.
We climbed a huge wooden staircase to our room, which had once served as the nursery, and a sign on the wall gave me my first shiver. I hadn’t known, but apparently Carbisdale Castle is haunted, and each room has a terrifying tale to go with it. Crying babies have been heard in the former nursery, and although I didn’t hear anything unusual during my sleepless night, I was definitely spooked.
In the morning we had breakfast in a fairly modern kitchen and set off to explore the rest of the castle. The majority of the rooms have been converted into dormitories and each contains several bunk beds. The common room has busy navy and white wallpaper and a light blue and white pendant ceiling. A bay window encased with rich wood lets the light in.
of the castle in the gray Scottish morning was more impressive than I thought.
No more than three stories high at its tallest point, the gray stone is
punctuated by more windows than I had ever seen on a castle. One main turret
sits at the center of the building, and two wings branch out from its sides.
The scenery itself was dead – lifeless black heather covered most of the ground and bleak mountains filled the distance. But it was beautiful nonetheless. And every second of the journey was worth it when we arrived at our destination.
I stepped out into the cold air and immediately my senses were befuddled. While I was shivering in the bitter wind, I was also standing on a powdery, white sand beach that was met by blue water worthy of the Caribbean. It was astonishing. I wanted to dive in with my snorkeling gear, but my goosebumps reminded me that I was in Scotland.
Several smaller beaches spatter Achmelvich Bay, and we wandered along grassy fields and craggy rocks to explore them. Sheer slate rock stopped the crashing white waves at one point, and calm water met more white sand at another. Sheep roam free and munch contentedly on the green grass. A few noticed us and Baa’ed their welcome, but the majority didn’t pay us any attention.
And what would a day in Scotland be without seeing a castle? Achmelvich Bay is home to a unique castle, nicknamed the smallest castle in Scotland. Built of concrete and sitting on a rocky hill overlooking the water, Hermit’s Castle is not big enough to let more than two people inside its cramped interior at once. A rock “bed” barely long enough to lie down on is the only real furniture. Legend has it that a hippie built this castle in the early 1950’s with the intention of making it his home, but he only lived there for a week. It’s now abandoned.
When we’d had our fill of the castle and the mesmerizing water, we turned around to head back to the car. The view that greeted us was unlike anything I had seen before and likely will see nowhere else on earth. What met my eyes was the turquoise water lapping at the soft sand of the first paradise like beach. Behind it was a tall, dark mountain, its summit capped with clean white snow.
ISLE OF SKYE
coast of Scotland is a nature lover’s paradise. The Isle of Skye has some
of the most breathtaking views in all of the country. The only obstacle
to this island of beauty is a tremendously expensive toll bridge. The lengthy
white arc has been a source of anger and debate since its opening in 1995,
as the toll bridge’s prices range from £5.70 for a car, to £41.20
for a bus carrying 22 or more passengers – one way!
Quiraing is a geological fault which was caused by landslipping. The result is a succession of strange pinnacles and unique rock formations. Scrambling over and around them brings you closer to the The Table, a flat summit. The scenery alternates between dark rock and green grass covering rolling hills. Quiraing is more of a collection of hills, with uneven paths leading in between them.
The dramatic scenery from the top of the hill is enough to encourage some to break out into song – The Hills are Alive With the Sound Of Music perhaps…….Rolling hills and steep cliffs seem to stretch on forever. Even farther in the distance lies the deep blue water of the sea.
One green hill
ends rather abruptly, creating a valley between itself and a much taller
cliff. A thin promontory extends out from another hill and walking along
it is about as close to walking on thin air as you can get.
The following is a list of articles that Dawnelle has written for the magazine:
Comes to Life
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