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Battle of Stirling Bridge Landscape

This evening, my theme is the Battle of Stirling Bridge which took place on September 11th 1297. I recently visited this site with a small group in context of  a one day battlefields tour.

The bridge at centre of the battle was wooden and  located a hundred meters or so upstream of the existing stone built medieval bridge which spans the River Forth and is situated on the plain between Stirling Castle and The Wallace Monument.

This battle arose as a function of the aggressive and predatory attitude of the English King Edward I towards Scotland and his desire to bring Scotland under his (English) rule.

The Scots were led by William Wallace (aka ‘Braveheart’) and Andrew Murray. John de Warenne, earl of Surrey commanded the English forces. The River Forth separated the two forces with Scots to the north and English to the south. Read more on Battle of Stirling Bridge…

This morning I collected a group of guests who had just arrived from North America on a cruise ship at Greenock.

Our first stop was the quaint little heritage village of Luss on the bank of Loch Lomond. The main village was originally built to house workers at a nearby slate mine but the properties are now mainly occupied by seniors. Some of gardens are very colourful. After a stroll through the village we went to end of the pier to admire Loch Lomond and Ben Lomond.

View of Loch Lomond from the pier at Luss.

Viking ‘hogback’ gravemarker at St. Kessog’s Church, Luss. This probably dates back about 1100 years and indicates the antiquity of this Christian site.

After Luss we drove down to Balloch at southern tip of Loch Lomond and then on to Aberfoyle and the Trossachs. The hills and mountains still retained the residue of the winter’s snow. This is Ben Ledi.
After the Trossachs we drove on to Doune Castle with its Monty Python connection. The castle dates from then 14th century and for a while was used as a hunting lodge by the Scottish royal family who were at the time located just a few miles away at Stirling. The castle was restored by the Earl of Moray in 1883 and is an impressive building.

After Doune Castle we went to Blackford in Perthshire to have a spot of lunch and tour Tullibardine Distillery which proved a great success. The guide took us the through the process of malting, mashing, fermentation, distillation and maturation culminating in a couple of samples. This was a good tour providing a useful insight into this small, privately owned distillery which serves niche markets.

Tour group with guide.
Whisky Stills at Tullibardine

Sample of single malts at end of the Distillery Tour.

After Tullibardine, we drove down to Stirling for a short visit to the famous castle which includes the Great Hall, Kitchens and Royal Chapel with tapestries.

Finally, we drove back from Stirling to Greenock to return guests to the ship and fond farewells.

Read more on Day Tour from Cruise Ship, Scotland…

Today, we started Glasgow about 9.30am and then headed to Dumbarton which was the centre of an ancient, Welsh-speaking Kingdom around the 5th-10th centuries AD. The name translates as Fort of the Britons. Here we visited Dumbarton Castle which is built on a volcanic plug. Towards the end of its military life the fort was used as a defensive gun battery in the wars against France and many cannon are in situ as a reminder of this era. There are many steps to climb, but for the fit a rewarding visit as the elevation offers stunning views over the Clyde estuary and surrounding landscape.

Here is a view of the Clyde at very low tide.
Antipodean visitor atop Dumbarton Castle.

After Dumbarton, we motored on to Balloch at the southern tip of Loch Lomond which is Scotland’s largest loch (lake) in terms of surface area. Here is an image of the loch featuring the paddle steamer ‘Maid of the Loch’ which is in process of restoration.

After Balloch, we drove on to Port of Menteith and Lake of Menteith. Enjoyed a pub lunch in front of an open wood fire at the lakeside hotel featured in this image. Not so long ago, this lake was frozen over. See this video clip of curling on the ice.

After Menteith, we headed to Doune Castle, the finest surviving medieval castle in Scotland. It dates from the 14th century and was built to a simple and sound plan which incorporated robust defensive features. In recent times the castle became famous when it featured in the film ‘Monty Python and the Holy Grail’

After Doune, we visited another castle, this time at Stirling which in its day has been a military establishment, royal palace and British Army base. The former royal court features fine Renaissance work but was treated with little respect after King James VI of Scotland moved to London to assume the English throne. This image shows the royal palace.

Main entrance.
View from Stirling Castle of the snow-capped Ochill Hills and the Wallace Monument.

Here is the restored Great Hall basking in the sunshine.

After Stirling, we returned to Glasgow arriving about 5.15pm. A good day with weather relatively dry.

Read more on Day Tour from Glasgow…