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Today, we had enjoyable walking tour of Edinburgh, capital of Scotland. Weather was incredibly benign with an unseasonal combination of blue skies, sunshine and snow capped hills in the distance.

We commenced at the Grassmarket and then walked up to the Royal Mile. En-route we encountered this gentleman collecting for charity. He proved to be a former WW2 soldier with experience in the North African desert attached to an Australian unit.

Here is a view from the castle looking over Edinburgh to the snow covered Pentland Hills to the south.
This is the entrance to Edinburgh Castle and location of the world famous Edinburgh Military Tattoo.

Edinburgh castle is built on the plug of a volcanic plug. The current castle dates from the 11th century but on the site of fortifications which date back much earlier. We joined a guided tour which took us around the key aspects of this famous monument, finishing in the centre where we went to visit the Scottish National War Memorial and the Crown Room where the Honours of Scotland (regalia comprising crown, sceptre, sword, other items and the coronation Stone of Scone can be viewed.
Re-enactment period actors in the Great Hall

Another view from the castle with the Pentland Hills in the distance.

After visiting the Castle we strolled down the Royal Mile looking at key sites before visiting St. Giles Cathedral which is also known as the High Kirk of Edinburgh and dates form the 12th century. Inside, in addition to the stunning features and contents we also visited the chapel dedicated to the Knights of the Thistle, Scotland’s chief order of chivalry. The chapel was opened in 1911 and is richly endowed with carved wood panelling.
Inside St. Giles Cathedral
About half way down the Royal Mile is the World’s End Pub. In medieval times Edinburgh was a walled city and this is where the boundaries of the city were established. To the inhabitants of the day, this is where their world ended.

This is Chessel’s Court which dates from 1748, so named because it was built by Archibald Chessel. The building on the right was the first real hotel in Scotland. The buildings were restored in 1958-67.
This is the debating chamber of the Scottish Parliament. This building was constructed to house the devolved Scottish Administration and opened in 2004. Eventual cost was some 8-10 times original budget and the exterior architecture (designed by Enric Miralles of Spain) has proved somewhat controversial.
Here is the National Monument on Calton Hill with some choreography in process. This was modelled on the Parthenon in Athens and intended as a tribute to the dead of the Napoleonic wars but was left incomplete when funding dried up in 1829.

Our final visit was to Charlotte Square at the end of George Street. Charlotte Square is part of Edinburgh’s New Town which, as a concept, dates from 1766. Charlotte Square was completed in 1820 to designs by famous Scots architect, Robert Adam. Queen Charlotte was wife of King George III. In Charlotte Square we visited the Georgian House, a building dating from 1796 and fully restored to its original Georgian grandeur by the National Trust for Scotland. There is a good introductory film providing a useful insight into daily life in the Georgian era.
After this visit we walked back to the hotel in Grassmarket via the New Town.This concluded a rewarding day exploring Edinburgh.

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Today, the weather in east of Scotland was bright, clear but still relatively cold after taking into account the windchill.

Collected guest at the Grassmarket in Edinburgh Old Town. Here is an image of the Grassmarket which lies in the shadow of Edinburgh Castle.

After a quick shopping trip in Princes Street, we drove a few miles south to the village of Roslin. Here is the famous (especially post Da Vinci Code book and film) Rosslyn Chapel which dates from the 15th century. This incredible, intensively carved structure, took some 40 years to complete under sponsorship of the St. Clair family under whose control the building remains to this day. We were able to climb up the walkway to the roof to observe the repairs in process and admire the snow covered scenery reflecting in the sunshine.

Here is a view of the village of Roslin taken from the roof of Rosslyn Chapel

Masons at work repairing the fabric of the Chapel.

After a spot of lunch in Rosslyn we drove on, to Glenkinchie Whisky Distillery (see image at foot of this post). At Glenkinchie we joined the standard tour explaining the malting, mashing, fermentation, distillation and maturation process of the product which is Scotland’s national drink and leading export product.

At Glenkinchie there was still evidence of the recent heavy snow falls in the area some of which had started to melt resulting in localised flooding.

Next we drove on, first to the historic town of Haddington. At one stage Haddington held the biggest grain market in Scotland. The town boast fine buildings and a working mill.

Next we drove to the pretty village of Dirleton with its famous castle. After some photo opps we headed back to Edinburgh tracking the coast of the Firth of Forth and observing the snow capped hills in Fife across the Firth.

This image shows the village green at Dirleton.
This is the Dovecote connected to Dirleton Castle. In medieval times pigeons were an important source of food.

Perhaps the key memory from today will be the unusual (and unseasonal) combination of sunshine and snow covered scenery.

Weather forecast bodes well for our tour of Edinburgh tomorrow.

Here is Glenkinchie Distillery.



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Today, our tour commenced Edinburgh about 0930. After leaving the capital we drove up to Dunfermline to view the Abbey and Royal Palace. Here, we were able to view a Remembrance Day ceremony at Dunfermline War Memorial from our vantage point at the Abbey. Image below shows historic Dunfermline Abbey. Combined with the nearby Royal Palace this site formed one of the most impressive building complexes in medieval Scotland. Inside is the burial of King Robert the Bruce who died in 1329. Video no 2 below shows the Nave of the Abbey Church which is a survivor from the Romanesque style of building in the 12th century.

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