Day 21, Fort William and Inverness, Scotland, June 11, 2016

Today, we tour the lochs around Fort William and Inverness, including Loch Ness!! Our eyes were peeled to see Nessie (THE Loch Ness monster) but without success!!

We began at the Caledonian Canal, which connects the Scottish east coast at Inverness with the west coast at Corpach near Fort William in Scotland. The canal was constructed in the early nineteenth century by Scottish engineer Thomas Telford, and is a sister canal of the Göta Canal in Sweden, also constructed by Telford.  The canal runs some 60 miles (97 km) from northeast to southwest. Only one third of the entire length is man-made, the rest being formed by Loch Dochfour, Loch Ness, Loch Oich, and Loch Lochy.  These lochs are located in the Great Glen, on a geological fault in the Earth’s crust. There are 29 locks (including eight at Neptune’s Staircase, Banavie), four aqueducts and 10 bridges in the course of the canal.  The draught runs 15 to 18 feet.

 

John Cobb was the holder of the land speed record of 390 mph.  He was attempting to break the water speed record of 178.4 mph, at the time of his death.

   

Above are the MANY Nessie critters, we saw!!

We then toured Urquhart Castle, positioned overlooking Loch Ness.  The ruins date from 13th to 16th century, with the castle used in the Wars of Scottish Independence in the 14th century.  It is one of the largest and most-visited castles in Scotland.

And of course, we had to look over a British Morgan 8 Roadster!

 

 

 

Day 20, Wallace Monument & Drive in Scotland, June 10, 2016

From Edinburgh, we drove northwest to Stirling and Scotland’s National Wallace Monument on Abbey Craig.  Sir William Wallace led his troops to victory at the Battle of the Stirling Bridge in 1297 against King Edward I, during the Wars of Scottish Independence.  This victory inspired generations of Scots to fight oppression and injustice.  Wallace, a national hero, was captured in 1305 and handed over to King Edward I, who had him hanged, drawn and quartered for high treason against England.  The movie, “Braveheart”, with Mel Gibson, is supposed to represent his life.

Then we began our drive northwesterly across Scotland from Stirling to Fort William.  What beautiful countryside!!

Even driving on the left side of the road, Steve did a great job!

 

Day 19, Edinburgh, Scotland, June 9, 2016

Our first day in Edinburgh began with a drive and walk through the city to Edinburgh Castle, the most besieged place in Britain, having provided sanctuary and security for many of Scotland’s kings and queens.  This was a very busy sightseeing day!

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Above and below, St. John’s, Scottish Episcopal Church.

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Above is part of the walkways around the castle.  Below are the views around Edinburgh from the castle walls!!

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From one of the castle walls, this view overlooks the city and in the background the Firth of Forth (Sea of Forth), with a cruise ship!

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This famous time signal has been fired almost daily since 1861 except on Sundays, Christmas Day and Good Friday.

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Below is the Royal Palace with rooms displaying a wide variety of arms, armor and treasures of the castle.

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Below is the War Memorial, housed in a redeveloped barrack block at the heart of Edinburgh Castle.

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Below are views from the Prisons of War.

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Above is the altar in St Margaret’s Chapel in the castle, the oldest surviving building in Edinburgh, built in the 12th century (seen behind Steve in picture below at Foog’s Gate).

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We then took off down the Royal Mile, enjoying more of Edinburgh City.

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Above is St. Giles’ Cathedral, the High Kirk of Edinburgh, the principal place of worship of the Church of Scotland, also known as the “Mother church of Presbyterianism”.  Its distinctive crown steeple is a prominent feature of the city skyline and the Royal Mile.  St Giles, a popular saint in the Middle Ages, is the patron saint of Edinburgh, as well as cripples and lepers.

Below is a forest wizard (street actor), “floating in space”, with only the assist of the staff in the foreground.

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Above is Tron Kirk, formerly a parish church built in the 17th century, now a landmark on the Royal Mile and open as a small marketplace.

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Above and below, the Palace of Holyroodhouse, served as principal residence of Kings and Queens of Scots since the 16th century, now Queen Elizabeth spends one week in residence at the beginning of each summer.  This palace is at the end of the Royal Mile and then we walked some more!

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Above and below is the Scottish Parliament Building, with distinctive sculptures!

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Above and Below, the Scott Monument is a Victorian Gothic monument to Scottish author, Sir Walter Scott.  It is the largest monument to a writer in the world, at 200 feet, 6 inches.

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The end of a long day with great sights in Edinburgh!!

Day 18, Hadrian’s Wall, England, June 8, 2016

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On our last day with the Willmer’s, we hiked and toured Hadrian’s Wall.  This 73 mile wall in England defended the northern frontier of the Roman Empire in Britain for over 250 years!  It was begun in 122 A.D. and completed in 6 years.  There was a fort about every 5 miles.  A significant portion still stands and can be followed on foot along the adjoining path.  It is the largest Roman artifact in the world and designated a UNESCO World Heritage site.  It follows the Scottish border irregularly, ranging from 1 to 110 kilometers away from the actual border of Scotland.

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We had lunch and toured the Lanercost Priory grounds, the fort and Monastery.

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Lanercost was built as a house of prayer with stones from Hadrian’s Wall.  Its history is recorded on the storyboards along its North Aisle Wall, and is still used for worship and witnessing, as well as a venue for concerts.

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Above, this view from the inner sanctuary window shows the ruined choir and transepts.

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After our goodbyes, we drove to Edinburgh!!

 

Day 17, Touring the Lake District, June 7, 2016

Touring with the Willmer’s continues!  Today is Castlerigg Stone Circle, recognized in 1913 as an archaeological site by the National Trust.

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Middle Ruddings was our home for 3 days while we enjoyed a relaxing visit with our friends, the Willmer’s, plus all the new friends we met!  The Lake District in Cumbria, England was wonderful and we are thrilled we got to see as much as we did!

 

Day 16, Touring the Lakes district, June 6, 2016

Day 2 with the Willmer’s!  Hiking around Buttermere Lake and sightseeing!

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The Highland cow is a Scottish cattle breed with long horns, long wavy coats (multiple colors), raised for their meat, and very hardy in the cold winters of the UK.  They are also known as “Hairy Coos”.

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Clare’s friend, Sarah, was a delight and font of information on our hike around Buttermere Lake and to the Shale Mine!  She brought a few of her kids on the hike with us!!

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Love seeing the reflections in the lakes!!

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Honister Slate Mine is England’s only slate mine now, but began with quarrying in 1728.    It now produces roofing slate, tourist gifts and provides underground tours.

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A delightful day with friends!!

Day 15, Lakes District, England, June 5, 2016

Today, we met up with our dear British friends from Holy Redeemer parish in Aledo, Texas: the Willmer family!!!   Clare, Francesca and Stephen are now living in the Lakes District and we were thrilled to be spending time with them over the next 3 1/2 days!!  We hiked, talked, viewed the sights, and talked some more!!

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We met Clare and Stephen at St. Joseph’s for mass!!  What a blessing!!

 

Day 12, Conwy, Wales, United Kingdom, June 2, 2016

Started our day off at Conwy, Castle!  Begun in 1283, completed in 1287!  Amazing!  Estimated costs to build the castle and walls for Edward I were 15,000 pounds, which would be about 45 million pounds in today’s money.

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The walls around the castle are quite thick and still seen around certain parts of Conwy, as seen above in both pictures.

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Above are the 3 bridges crossing the Conwy River (as seen at low tide from the castle’s east Barbican, seen below):  the 20th century road bridge, Thomas Telford’s suspension bridge in the center and Robert Stephenson’s tubular railway bridge on the right.

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Above is the King’s head, drawn in space to capture the ghostly presence of Edward I.  Below are nesting birds around the castle!

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Sights walking around Conwy:  Below the knight in Lancaster Square & the Knight Shop.DSC00534DSC00454DSC00535 DSC00536 DSC00537DSC00538 DSC00540 DSC00566

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Enjoyed a beautiful sunset, then had good ribeye steaks at our hotel.  Really enjoyed visiting Wales!  Lots to see, beautiful countryside, VERY friendly people!!

 

 

Day 11, Driving through Wales, June 1, 2016

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Yes, driving through Wales on the left side of the road!!  Steve finally got the hang of this, better on highways, then the VERY narrow roads, but did fine!!  NOW the language on street signs was another matter!!  LOL!  THANK GOODNESS, they also added the English to most of them!

Below are some of our sights through absolutely beautiful country sides!

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Our place to stay on Ysguborwen Road in Dwygyfylchi, Conwy, United Kingdom.  We enjoyed fish and chips and lamb shank for dinner after a beautiful sunset!

 

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