Sunday, December 31, 2006

Stirling, William Wallace - "Braveheart"

William Wallace Statue, Wallace Memorial, Stirling Castle area, Scotland

The tower memorial to William Wallace, near Stirling Castle, is about 220 feet high, and this smaller commemorative statue is at the base, near the parking area.  From this height, Wallace is said to have watched the collecting English soldiers, before the Battle of Stirling.

This Wallace statue has not been popular, with people thinking it looks too much like Hollywood's Braveheart a la Mel Gibson.  The film title is even inscribed on the shield there.  So, some have defaced the nose. 

The space for the statue was leased, not purchased, so the lease is about to expire and we can expect that it will not be renewed.  It was offered for sale but no-one bought.  See ://

Note the sword.  It is a 5/ 4" bruiser, of the type "Claymore" - see them at:// Seeing one up close:  cannot even imagine being able to lift it with both hands to waist height outstretched.

Monday, December 18, 2006

Links, posts, archives
Posts - listed from arrival to departure, not by date of first posting. So do read the archives - those complete the trip.

Technorati Profile

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Isle of Skye. On Skye - Dunvegan Castle; Flora MaDonald

Skye, Dunvegan Castle, Scotland

To get to the Isle of Skye - and its Castle Dunvegan - there is no longer a need to go "Over the Sea to Skye," although you can listen to part of it here: Go to the dot com home site, then use the rest only as needed to get to it.

No need to speed the bonny boat because there is a bridge now, to Skye.

Dunvegan.  Dunvegan is the castle (1549 or so) that is the stronghold of the MacLeods, and where Samuel Johnson visited in the 1770's. See

We were told that the castle used to be the staging point for kidnapping local people and taking them to the Caribbean as slaves. There are cells and underground passages leading to the water, where the rowboats would wait to be loaded. See also  See specific reference to surnames at  It is a history that educational institutions avoid, see

Does that explain why there are so many Scots last names for people on the islands there. True? That slave trafficking was stopped at about the same time that the Crown stopped other slave trafficking.

Skye, Grave of Flora MacDonald who helped Bonnie Prince Charlie escape after his defeat at Culloden, 1746

Also on Skye:  The grave of Flora MacDonald, who helped Bonnie Prince Charlie escape. He fled in the disguise of her lady in waiting.See

Someone had left a fresh bouquet there when we visited. Heritage stories:  More on Flora MacDonald at

Friday, December 01, 2006

Hebrides - side trip

From Skye, we took the car ferry to the Hebrides - see Hebrides Road Ways. We returned to Scotland another way, to Ullapool.

In any trip, sudden signs on the roadway to elsewhere just can't be resisted. There is a bridge to Skye from mainland Scotland, so that is an easy jaunt across.

And once there, is worth the careful drives around - remember that you will be on one lane roads, with lay-bys for one vehicle to wait on the side while the other passes.

There are high poles on the roads marking the lay-bys and the rule is this: when you see another vehicle coming your way, even if it is several curves away (tiptoe around curves), the closest vehicle to the nearest pole is to pull over. As you pass, you hold the steering wheel with a hand at the noon position and wiggle your fingers as an acknowledgment, and a kind of courtesy thank you. I saw no competition for who got to go by whom. It is not worth any kind of accident out there.

Then you will see the ferry signs to the Hebrides - go there, find out the schedules, and take the most convenient one. We were finishing up on Skye in a late afternoon, and why spend another night there? So it was off to Harris and Lewis - got a reservation this time through the ferry company and directions because we would be arriving about 8:30 PM, and near dark. Worked out fine. Stayed in the town of Rodel . See , Hebrides Road Ways.

Tongue. Sharing the road - the Highlands

Tongue, Scotland, highland wild donkeys

Near Tongue.  Highland donkeys. Drive carefully. The roads are often one lane, with a lay-by for passing that is marked with a tall flag. If you see a car coming, whoever is closest to the lay-by is supposed to pull over and wait. People did. We kept the gas tank full, and kept a water bottle and bread and cheese just in case, and never needed them.

Highlands: more remote and stark than expected. Lunch at Tongue - best platter of local cheeses ever. See

Tongue, the name, comes probably from the Old Norse - see See the photos there. I believe we had our fine cheese platter at that Tongue Hotel. Just feel the wilderness and the mountains.