The rain was most disappointing, as we had left some of the most beautiful country so that we could see it in fine weather. Now we had to either cut it out altogether or see it in the rain. We decided upon the latter. In my opinion, Scotland has more beauty spots per mile than either England or Wales, although Wales comes next. In Wales the scenery was generally good, because there were more hills to make it so.
In Scotland we have the hills, the lochs and the forests of pine and other trees which make it more than usually pretty. It was on account of this special beauty that our itinerary had been arranged by the A.A. to include as many miles in Scotland as compared with the other parts. In England and Wales we had just travelled right through from one place to another. In Scotland we found ourselves going backwards and forwards in the country without covering the same ground twice. For instance, it is nearly a week since we were at Oban and yet we were only a couple of hours journey from it again yesterday. Likewise, it is several days since we were at Inverness and to-day we discovered on a signpost that we only had to go to the other side of a loch to be there again.
Lois has been acting as guide as she has kept the road maps before her and has watched to see that we keep to the proper route. When we were leaving Aberdeen I asked her how many miles it was to Edinburgh and to my surprise she said it was nearly 500. The direct route would have been in the vicinity of 70.
After leaving St. Andrews we made a complete circle of some lake and forest country. This took us past the Taymouth Castle Hotel at which we had intended to stay. This is an old castle built hundreds of years ago, but has been kept in good order and is now turned into a modern hotel without disturbing the exterior. We sat in the car on a hill just above it waiting for the rain to stop for a minute so that I could take a photo. But it would not and we drove on.
There are several hotels of this kind in Scotland. A couple of hours later we passed the Gleneagles Hotel, which is about the most expensive hotel in the country. It has 250 rooms with all the most modern conveniences. The grounds are positively beautiful and covered many acres, a portion of which is used for an 18-hole golf course.
It was about 9 o’clock at night and still raining so I could not get a photo and we decided to go on to Callander, as we had been told there were some nice waterfalls there and also a good hotel at a reasonable price.
It was about 10 o’clock when we arrived and after getting unpacked and settled the rain stopped. We then thought we would go to see the falls as it was still quite daylight. We started off at 10.20 but when we got to the end of the road we found we had a walk of at least 30 minutes each way, so we then decided to leave the falls until the morning. The people who gave us the information about the walk were just returning and so that we would not be wasting our time I asked them whether the falls were really worth seeing. They assured me they were and would make a good photo. As we had a big day before us to get to Edinburgh next day we got up early and again started out for the falls.
When Elizabeth saw the hill we had to climb she said she would stay in the car. Rozie walked halfway up and then gave it best and returned to the car. Lo and I completed the journey. After going to all this trouble we eventually found a comparatively small volume of water going over a rocky ledge of about 8 feet high. It was a complete washout.
I took a photo. just to show that the information given to persons is only according to their experience and knowledge. Probably the people who advised us to go to the falls had never seen better. To us they were not worth bothering about.
We drove on and had a good laugh, although we felt that we had been taken down. From Callander to Loch Katrine is only a short run, but is through the well known Trossachs. It took us quite a time to do a few miles as the weather was better and although dull I was able to take some photos.
The Trossachs Hotel was another place built in the form of a castle and I was able to get a photo. of it. At this point Tarbet, a small town on Loch Lomond where we had passed through over a week ago was only distant about 20 miles. Our next pretty spot was Lake Monteith which is the only lake in Scotland. All the other lakes are called Lochs.
In the rain once more we drove on to Stirling. Here we had quite a lot to see and as it was lunch time we went straight to a restaurant in the hope that while we were eating the rain would stop.
This did not eventuate so we had to go to the Stirling Castle in the pouring rain. At least a portion of this castle was built in the tenth century. In those days it must have been quite impregnable, for it holds a commanding position on the top of a hill. We saw some of the old weapons of defence which were quite amusing at the present time. For instance, there was some kind of a large catapult which threw large round stones down the hill a distance of 20 yards. Some of the stones used in this “gun” are still preserved at the castle. Even the old cannons of a much later date are just as laughable. A hole was made in the stone work for the cannon balls to pass through on being fired.
We speak of a castle as being a large building, but actually it is a collection of buildings surrounded by a high and very thick wall. Stirling Castle is now used as a military barracks except for several of the special rooms of interest to visitors for which a charge is made to enter. As it will carry some hundreds of men with all their equipment it will give some idea of the number and size of the buildings.
Some of these buildings have some gruesome stories attached to them.
For instance, in February, 1452, King James II invited the Earl of Douglas to the castle to discuss matters which were offending him. The Earl would not submit to the demands of the King, whereupon he murdered him and then threw his body out of the window. The room and the window were examined by us. There were also the usual cells for prisoners and in one place these cells were only large enough for a man to stand upright. When he wanted to rest or sleep (if ever) he must have simply collapsed against the iron bars.
In 1651 the castle was besieged by General Monk. He kept up a steady fire for three days and we were shown the round holes in the stone work made by the cannon balls used at that stage. It took us well over an hour to see through the buildings and listen to the stories and explanations of the guide. There is a beautiful view from the castle, but unfortunately it was still raining and although I took some photos. I do not believe they will be any good.
We looked out on the field of Bannockburn and the Wallace Monument some miles distant. As the Wallace Monument was of special interest to us we went to see it, but after driving there Elizabeth and Rozie decided they could not climb the hill so it was left to Lois and myself to see it.
The monument stands on a hill called the Abbey Craig and it can be seen for many miles. Before we reached Stirling I saw the monument and we were still 11 miles off the town. It was quite a steep walk to the top of the hill but that was nothing compared with going up the spiral staircase to the top of the monument to which I counted 246 steps.
Once again we were rewarded by a glorious view of the surrounding country, but – it was still raining! The interior of the monument has several waiting rooms as you climb to the top and in these there are pictures, letters, weapons and other interesting relics giving a very good account of the life and doings of Sir William Wallace.
On our way out through the city we passed along Wallace Street on our way to Edinburgh. It was an uneventful drive of about 50 miles and although we passed by two more old castles (Scotland is full of them) we did not stop until we reached the General Post Office at Edinburgh – and it was still raining! There we got the mail and I was very pleased to hear that everything was going along pretty well. Letters from home are always good to get, but you must be situated as we are to fully understand our appreciation of them.