I was having a softly streaming sunny morning, kicked back, waiting for the day’s first cuppa to reach my frigid toes. It’s a cold April in Scotland.
There will be no taxi subterfuge on this one dear Escapees. The mountain does not come to Escape Velocity, we will climb to it. First, one has to navigate the modern municipal flats of Stirling, crossing over the railway tracks on a footbridge into the hills of old town Stirling.
It’s nothing but up from there. Unrelenting, steep hauling of one’s caboose up the mountain to Stirling Castle.
When I stopped to take a photo of an interesting building at what I hoped was at least halfway up, a local gentleman said, “That house is the oldest in Stirling.”
He added, “Do you know about the shortcut up the hill?” Of course we didn’t but I’m always up for a shortcut. What followed was five minutes of charming thick Scottish brogue, most of which I couldn’t understand but he seemed pleased so we gathered that we were to make a left then immediately jog right at the old pub that isn’t there anymore. What could go wrong?
Following the Escape Velocity paradigm we found ourselves on a walkway heading straight up the mountain. These people are made of stronger stuff.
The rest breaks were becoming so frequent that I wasn’t sure if we were spending more time climbing or resting. The merciless walkway suddenly ended at a two lane macadam road which seemed significant but left us without a clue as to where we might find a castle. Turns out a long staircase was hidden behind a copse of trees. Our shaky legs probably made the stairs seem longer than it ought, but we reached the arrival lot with just a handful of adventure seekers taking snaps of the view.
What a contrast to over-crowded Edinburgh. Still climbing toward the castle gates we could see the beginnings of ramparts when we came upon this familiar chap.
Have they ever seen a volcanic plug that they haven’t built a castle on? How fortunate that this one is near the lowest downstream ford of the Forth River.
Started in the late 11th century the castle has been the home of royalty and had more than 8 major sieges.
After our tour of the castle we think our local man in the know suggested we take the long circuitous way back down to see the historical sights missed while trekking up the shortcut. Sounds good to me.
It was a spent duo of escapees that staggered back to the van, tired but happy.