Great Britain Part Five (On to Scotland)

After spending five days in London we boarded the train for about a 4 ½ hour ride to Edinburgh, Scotland. We spent one night in a hotel near the airport so that we could meet up with the rest of our party the next morning at the airport, several were coming in on that morning flight. The main reason that we had put together this trip to Great Britain was, that my sister Bonnie had found out through a friend of hers (Amy) who puts together spiritual trips throughout the world, had planned this trip to the Highlands. This was a prearranged ten-day trip traveling around Scotland (mostly the Highlands) enjoying nature and all it has to offer. There was a total of 12 of us plus our guide Jamie. We all met at the Edinburgh airport early on the morning of September 20, boarded our 16 passenger minibus with all our luggage and we are off exploring. These posts on Scotland will not necessarily be in the order that we did them for a couple reasons. First off the fact that I was not driving or arrange the trip, so I’m not real familiar in what order we did all the stops. And we did so many things and went to so many places it’s hard for me to keep them all straight, I just want to highlight some of the interesting spots along the way. I can say for a fact, we all had a great time and by mid-week we were like one big happy family sharing meals and good times together. This part of our Great Britain excursion was more nature bound and less touristy type of travel. We did see lots of beautiful places and got to stay in some wonderful hotels along the way. We left the airport and headed for Rosslyn Chapel, this chapel has been around for centuries and gained a new familiarity with the writing of the book “The Da Vinci Code” (published in 2003). Rosslyn Chapel began its history in time, beginning with the start of its building in 1446 by William St. Clair, 3rd Prince of Orkney, he worked on fulfilling this dream for almost 40 years till’s passing in 1484. His goal was to build this beautiful chapel in rural Scotland to praise his faith and to have a wonderful place of worship for the surrounding citizens.

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Unfortunately they are not allowed to take photos in the chapel but we did manage to get a couple before we were asked to stop. There are all kinds of unique stone carvings inside and out the chapel, and you can see why it took so many years to build this chapel. Here’s a photo of the front side.

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The chapel fell in and out of repair many times over the centuries. At one point almost becoming totally overtaken by nature. In the mid-1800s some major restoration was accomplished but it was not until the 1950s that they started to be renovated to today’s standards. In 1995 the Rosslyn Chapel trust was formed to take care of the chapel but it was not until the release of the Da Vinci Code in 2003, that this place became known worldwide and because of that has a future place in history and probably will be kept in pristine restored condition. Here’s a photo of the inside we managed to sneak before were asked not to take photos.

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One of the crypt inside the lower level of the chapel.

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Some more photos from the outside if you look close you can see the beautiful stonework.

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After visiting the chapel we took a little walk into the nearby Rosslyn Glen. The first thing we came along to was the ruins of the Rosslyn Castle, it’s not much to look at today, but you think about how many thousands of years these ruins span back in time, makes you realize how little time we spend here on this earth as individuals.

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As you can see by the remainders of the wall in this photo it must’ve been quite the place at one time.

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Here’s one of me glad to be getting back to nature and rural Scotland.

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From there we continued our walk into the Glenn and by these pictures you can see what a beautiful day it was. It was probably the best day weather-wise that we got to experience during our time exploring Scotland, but overall we lucked out and even though there was rain and mist and fog most of the time when we stopped the weather cooperated.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAHere’s one of Bonnie just enjoying the view.

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Here’s the first group photo of all my new friends that I got to meet over in Scotland there was 12 of us plus our guide Jamie we all got to know each other well and had a great time. All but two of the people are from Wisconsin (Greg and Claire are from the DC area) and I’m sure I will be meeting up with many of them in the future. From left to right in the photo Amy (who put the trip together), John with his wife Lorrie, myself and my sister Bonnie, Carol, Claire and Greg, Jenny (the youngest one in the bunch but probably the best behaved), Mary Kay, Kathy and our Scottish guide Jamie with his signature purple hat and kilts.scotlandAfter a short walk in the woods we headed to the Rosslyn Inn for a lunch of soup and sandwiches. Here’s a photo of the outside of the Inn.

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One of the bar area as you enter the Inn.

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We had a large assortment of dinky sandwiches.

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And we all sat and enjoyed each other’s company getting to know each other better as the day went on. 🙂

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 While in Scotland, as part of our package, every day we treated to a big traditional Scotland breakfast and in the evening a multicourse dinner which usually was around the two hour long dining and social event. It was way too much food for me but it was quite enjoyable having the social events. Lunch we were usually on her own sometimes we get together as a group and sometimes just a couple of us. By about day three, I chose to skip lunch most days because I’m only used to eating about two times a day with light snacks in between. After lunch we headed to our hotel on the outskirts of Edinburgh. This gave people some time to settle in relaxed some, as some of them had not had good sleep in many hours traveling all night on a plane. Here’s a photo of the hotel from across the road with beautiful views of the Scotland countryside.

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After settling in me and a few of the ladies decided to take a walk before dinner, and headed downtown to find a bar. The others either took a short nap for just hung out around the hotel. Here the girls are outside the bar happy to be in Scotland and ready for a great adventure. From front to back Carol, Jenny, Amy, Bonnie and Kathy.

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We all headed back to the hotel for dinner and calling it an early evening so we could rest up for the next day’s activities. The next morning were up early had a big breakfast and headed off exploring more parts of Scotland north of the city of Edinburgh in the Highlands. Scotland is divided into two main areas the Highlands to the north which are rugged and hilly, and the South which is more farmland with grazing area for cattle and sheep. Along the way we stopped at this beautiful stream to take a break do some sightseeing and meditating along the creek. It was another beautiful morning and it was impossible take a bad photo here’s some of the stream and waterfalls and a few of the gang enjoying themselves along the stream.

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Kathy and Bonnie just happy to be there.

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Amy enjoying a bit of solitude.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAFor the next two nights we got to stay at the Tulloch Castle Hotel, in “Dingwall” in the Highlands of Scotland.

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The castle dates back to the mid-16th century and served as a home for many families over the centuries, some of which are said to haunt the Castle today. After many years of changing hands and it being used for multiple purposes over the years, until 1976 when it then fell into disrepair until purchased by a local family and turned into a hotel in 1996.

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It’s a beautiful piece of history from the area and has been restored and renovated into a top-notch hotel. It consists of 20 guest rooms with private baths, several dining areas, meeting rooms and conference halls. Here are some photos of the exterior and interior. Front view and main entrance.

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Fireplace in the main lobby area. This is a working fireplace that is still used today you can see the stains of smoke and soot from the years of use.

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Entrance to the back courtyard.

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From the back courtyard.

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One of the bars off the one of the conference rooms. Beautiful woodwork throughout the building.

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Several lovely stained-glass windows throughout the Castle.

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One of the lovely views of the town below.

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One of the side entrances.

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The other side entrance.

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One of the evenings during our stay at the hotel we were treated to a guided ghost tour by one of the employees. The young man did a real good job of sharing folklore, with details of hauntings and some personal ghostly experiences. One of the most often sightings are of a woman and a dog. One of the past residence, the wife of one of the owners who fell or was pushed down the staircase and broke her neck, here’s a picture of the staircase.

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At the time it happened there was speculation that her husband might have had pushed her causing her death. Here’s a photo of her and her children along with the dog that is supposedly been seen roaming the grounds and the interior of the Castle. The husband used to be in this picture off to her right side, but was painted over after her death.

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At night the hotel does have kind of a ghostly appearance with the lighting around it and a secluded setting high on the hill.

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After our ghost tales many of us seem to have feelings of spirits around us that evening, I swore at about four in the morning someone sat on the foot of my bed, not sure if it really happened or if I was just imagining things. But in the morning several other people said they had sightings and feelings of spirits. Here’s a photo of Bonnie standing guard at the side entrance prepared to put protect us from any would be threatening spirits.

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One other interesting stop along our travels in the area was at Fortingall, home of what is to believe Europe’s oldest residents. An ancient Yew Tree, they claim it to be over 5000 years old.

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There is some speculation as to the real age but modern scientific speculation put it at least 2000 to 3000 years old. The locals say that the roots of this tree are at least 5000 years old or more, no matter what it is quite old and unique. It sits in the local church yard. Here I am checking out the information plaque in one of my flowery touristy shirts.

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Yew tree off to the left of the church.

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The church is really unique even though its size is not very large it is cool arched ceilings.

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Simple but beautiful handcrafted wood alter and pews.

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A beautiful little cemetery surrounds the church on three sides, I think someone special is buried here because of the pretty little blue flowers in bloom.

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This is one of the many Celtic crosses that we saw during our travels, they been around for centuries and show up all over Scotland.

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They eventually had to build the fence around the tree because over the years there have been cases of vandalism one time even trying to set the tree a fire.

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The trunk of the tree shows its age.

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That’s it for this post hope you enjoyed thanks for following along, Rick 🙂

 

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