I really like Scotland. Edinburgh is green, the old part of the city is beautiful, and the people are very friendly. We took a tour (with Highland Tours) outside of the city yesterday to visit the country side. Our first stop was at Stirling Castle. It is one of Scotland's most significant castles because people have fought over territory and who rules from here for centuries. This site first held a chapel, built by Alexander I in 1107.
The Edinburgh Castle is more interesting because it is still in it's ancient form, but Stirling Castle has a lot of history and guests can learn so much by visiting the various exhibitions. The castle was built on volcanic rock and allows for breathtaking views of the country side and village.
From the castle, we ventured on to the quaint village of Callander where we had lunch at Callander Meadows. This was a precious little town and as we were talking down the sidewalk after lunch the sun came out and things warmed up. The weather has been mostly fabulous during our time in the UK. We got lucky!
One of my favorite parts of any trip is to see the wildlife. There are something like one million sheep in Scotland and this is the season when lambs are born! They are so tiny and we would see them mostly curled up on the grass in fields next to their mothers or with other lambs. I also saw a grouse while we were on the train going from London to Scotland. Certainly the highlight, however, was the Highland Cow. Our driver said Scots call them "hairy coos."
These animals do not have much fat to protect them from harsh winters but they do have an additional layer of long fur. Long hair over their eyes helps to protect them from wind and driving rain. Moo.
After visiting the cow we went to Loch Lomond to board the Silver Marlin and take an hour long cruise on the beautiful lake.
In a (very) small way, the landscape reminded me of East Tennessee: beautiful, large, large lakes with green rolling hills in the distance.
Our cruise ended in Luss, a tiny village of just 700 people right on the water. It is lovely and I can imagine coming back to visit and stay in a bed and breakfast.
I wish we would have had more time to explore here. Supposedly a settlement was established 2,000 years ago and Vikings brought their boats up the loch via access from the river and pillaged and plundered the entire way. One grave in the only Luss graveyard has a sort of "hog" design (symbol of the Vikings) and dates to the 11th century.
This is just cute (sign below). Appropriately we saw a man walking a Scotty dog nearby.