Edinburgh Castle

I didn't think I'd visit Scotland but here I was! I thought I would have had a harder time understanding the Scottish accent but was surprised to hear that apart from the odd, 'Och' and 'Aye' I understood the accent quite well. Admittedly, I only heard the 'och' and 'aye' from these two white haired older ladies that sat in front of us on the city bus. One was recounting something that had happened to her while the other lady listened on replying where appropriate the said 'och' and 'aye'. I have to admit that it was charming.

Edinburgh Castle
This is the entrance to Edinburgh Castle, funnily enough in the city of Edinburgh (Funny because sometimes it isn't so obvious - Leeds Castle is nowhere near Leeds!). The first thing that struck me was that the Castle looked dirty. But in fact, we learnt that it was the type of stone that is mined in the area that has that particular colouring. Edinburgh Castle has stood overlooking the city since 1085! From the top of the hill we saw the cobblestoned streets of the Old Town and the New Town. The Castle is visited by more than one million people every year, making it the most visited of all Scottish monuments.

The Castle Esplanade (directly in front of the Gate House) is where the world- famous Edinburgh Military Tattoo is held. For three weeks in August, the Army presents a lively programme of music, marching and historical re-enactments under floodlights.

The Castle was 'the' place to be for the Scottish Kings. The Great Hall now houses the collection of weapons and armour. The Royal apartments include a tiny room in which Mary, Queen of Scots gave birth to the boy who was to become King James VI of Scotland and James I of England upon the death of Queen Elizabeth in 1603. The ancient Honours of Scotland - the Crown, the Sceptre and the Sword of State - are on view in the Crown Room.

Edinburgh Castle Entrance

View Down the Royal Mile
This is the view from Edinburgh Castle looking down the road known as the Royal Mile. It connects the castle to the Palace of Holyrood. On the Royal Mile, is St Giles' Cathedral. It is thought of as the mother church of Presbyterianism. The Cathedral was officially consecrated by the Bishop of St. Andrews in 1243, however its four massive central pillars date back to approximately 1120. The church was named after St. Giles, a saint popular throughout France, in support of the Auld Alliance of Scotland and France against England. We walked from the Castle down the Royal Mile. It was here that we went on a small tour of a tartan factory. It was noisy but really fascinating. There are so many different tartan paterns and colours. You can deck yourself out in plaid from head to toe - if you've got the money for it because it isn't cheap.

It was also on the Royal Mile that I purchased a really nice woolen serape that I had seen at Windsor but hadn't bought. This time, I was determined to buy one. The store was really cool and had tons of Scottish stuff. We also saw tins of Vegetarian Haggis! The salesman gave me an odd look when I asked him what the ingredients were. I believe he thought Vegetarian Haggis was an afront to the original Haggis made with organ meat.

To the left of the Cathedral in this picture, in the distance, is Tron Kirk. Hogmany celebrations take place here at New Year. It was built between 1636-47 and it's strange mixture of Gothic and Palladian architectural styles, the church features a fine hammerbeam roof of an unusual latticed truss construction.

St Giles' Cathedral

Travel Diary II

Holyrood Palace

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Travel Diary I
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