We drove away from Oban early in the morning. Unfortunately as we got into Oban in the late evening, we didn’t get to explore it. And because we left early in the morning, we never got the chance to see Oban properly. We will have to come back to Oban for a proper visit and perhaps to take a trip out to the islands!
As we headed east across Scotland, the mist and rain surrounded us and made for a moody, mysterious atmosphere.
Our first stop was Doune Castle.
Does this castle look familiar?
Monty Python fans? Game of Thrones fans? Outlander fans?
The various rooms and grounds of Doune Castle were featured in Monty Python and the Holy Grail. This iconic castle also served as Winterfell in the Game of Thrones TV series and as Castle Leoch in the Outlander series.
We had but a brief stop here – a chance to take some photographs, wander around the grounds a little and to kick a football (soccer ball) around. Although we didn’t this time, you can go inside for a visit – tour the impressive great hall, visit the kitchen where many dinners and banquets would have been prepared, peek inside the living quarters of the Duke and Duchess and enjoy the views from the battlements.
Doune Castle is currently in the care of Historic Scotland. Information on prices and planning your visit can be found here.
Next up was a stop at the National Wallace Monument in Stirling. This monument commemorates the life of Sir William Wallace, who was instrumental in leading the fight for Scottish independence in the late 1200’s. (You may also know him from the movie Braveheart.)
Our tour bus stopped in the car park and visitor centre. As admission to the National Wallace Monument was not included in our tour fees, this was an optional visit. We were given the choice to hang out at the visitor centre, souvenir shop and cafe or to head up to the monument for a visit. We decided, since we were here, that we would pay it a visit and learn more about Sir William Wallace. If you are interested in visiting, information on admission prices and opening hours can be found here.
After getting our tickets, we headed up to the monument. There was a wee walk between the visitor centre and the actual monument. But it was a nice walk through the cool and refreshing wooded area of Abbey Craig. There is a minibus service that cycles between the visitor centre and the monument for those who are unable to climb the Abbey Craig.
Here we are – at the National Wallace Monument. We’ll try not to spoil this for you – in case you are planning to visit yourself!
The National Wallace Monument was erected in 1869. This site was chosen because of its proximity to the site of the Battle of Stirling Bridge. At the Battle of Stirling Bridge, the Scots led by William Wallace, out-maneuvered and defeated the English – even though they were vastly outnumbered by the English. Although Wallace was eventually betrayed, found guilty of treason and executed brutally, the fight for Scottish independence continued with Robert the Bruce.
The various levels of the National Wallace Monument provides an insight into William Wallace’s life, his cause and the historical events that took place. There was lots of informative details on all of the displays in the Halls. There were also engaging films and reenactments. It was a great learning experience and gave us good insight into Scottish history and the fight for independence.
Inside the Hall of Heroes, you will find the Wallace Sword. It is said that this sword is sometimes called the Freedom’s Sword.
In addition to learning about William Wallace, we also learned about Robert the Bruce – who continued fighting for Scotland’s independence after Wallace was executed. Robert the Bruce, who has inspired many legends, was eventually crowned King of Scots in 1306, although the fight for independence did not end there.
To top off our visit, we headed up to the Crown – on top of the National Wallace Monument. From here, you can get an amazing panoramic view of the surrounding area, from Ben Lomond to the Pentland Hills.
Although it was a cloudy, misty and rainy day (and visibility was poor), the view from up here was still amazing.
From way up here, there was still learning to be had! Here, we learned about the Battle of Stirling Bridge and how the Scots defeated the English.
What I found really cool was trying to compare the current landscape with what it would have looked like during the Battle of Stirling Bridge.
Can you spot where the the battle site and the original battle bridge might be?
Soon it was time to walk back down to our tour bus and head off to our next stop. Stay tuned for the last post in our Compass Buster series!
From Vancouver with Love,
Ioana and Natalie
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