June 16,17 (Sunday,Monday)
Scotland in not second to Ireland in natural beauty. Some of the sceneries are breathtaking. On our way, we were more interested in spending time in small towns and villages than in big cities. We wanted to see the country side as much as we could. From Inverness to Edinburgh, we took the longer route along A82. This road borders the Loch Ness lake along its entire length. We stopped at several places to take photos.
After passing the Loch Ness lake, we came across another long lake Loch Lochy. We had a brief stop at Fort William and then a longer break at Stirling.
Edinburgh is the capital of Scotlsnd. It is a big city, but it is one place you need to visit and spend several days. We were planning to spend two nights in Edinburgh. It is listed as one of the most liveable cities in the world. It has a long history starting from Roman time. In terms of tourist arrivals in UK, it is only second to London. There are many tourist attractions in the city. The best three are: The Edinburgh castle, Royal ship Britannia and the Holyrood House. We knew we cannot see everything in two days. So we decided to see the above three attractions and then if there is free time, see additional things.
We have booked Holiday Inn hotel just outside the city of Edinburgh for two days. The hotel is in a very convenient place, on one of the main roads approaching the city. After checking in, we asked with the reception whether it is feasible to drive our car to these attractions. They told us that it is almost impossible to drive in the city. There are many streets that are closed and some only open to buses. Most of the open roads are one way streets. It is also difficult to find parking places in the city. There were two options to see the attractions in thr city. One is to use the Hop On – Hop Off buses. Secoind is to use the ordinary buses. There are several companies running the bus network. There ius one company who gives a day ticket for only 3.50 pounds. This ticket is valid for one day. You can travel any number of times , but you have to know the correct bus numbers and their routes. There was a manager in the hotel who was very helpful and he gave us all the bus numbers we need to take to visit the above three attractions.
We took the first bus near our hotel and got down near Edinburgh Castle which was our first selected attraction. The castle has been built on a rock called Castle Rock . It rises above all the other buildings in the city. Castle Rock had been a military base and royal residence for centuries. However, the Edinburgh Castle was built during the 12th century by David I, son of Saint Margaret of Scotland. When English and Scottish kings had wars, castle became the centre of power.
The castle changed hands several times. In 1571, English forces laid siege to the city of Edinburgh in an attempt to capture Mary, Queen of Scots. The siege, which lasted for two years, became known as the “long” siege. By February of 1573, all of Mary’s supporters had surrendered to the English. During the period 1688 to 1746, the Scots attempted, several times, to recapture their castle. Unfortunately, they were never able to overpower the English. The final attempt was in 1745 when the Jacobite army was led by Charles Edward Stuart . Although the Scots were able to capture the city, they were never able to lay siege to the castle.
Edinburgh Castle is now one of the most popular tourist attractions in Scotland. There are more than one million people who visit the castle each year to witness military ceremonies, historical re-enactments etc. The public can visit sites such as St. Margaret’s Chapel and the Great Hall of King James IV.
After taking a self guided tour in the castle, we took a bus and went to see the Royal ship Britannia. This ship was used exclusively by the royal family and has been decommissioned in 1997. Diana and Charles had their honeymoon on this ship.
The ship is now permanently anchored in Edinburgh and open to public . We again bought tickets for a self guided tour. For self guided tours, you receive a mobile phone like instrument. All you have to do is to take it with you and when you see a numbered place, press that number on the instrument and hold it to your ears. We could hear a full explanation about that place. We visited all the floors of the ship and had tea in the tearoom before coming out.
The next day morning we were leaving Edniburgh. We still have not visited the Holyrood house. We decided to see it first and then drive to York. Holyrood house is another royal recidence. When any member of the royal family including queen Elizebeth comes to Edinburgh for official duties, they reside in the Holyrood house.
We were not allowed to take photos inside the building.
Our next destination is York and Stratford Upon Evon. We will write about our experience in our next topic.