Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Loch Lomond, Central Highlands & Stirling Castle Tour, Scotland

My second day in Scotland was a 9-hour bus tour.  The total trip was about 145 miles (233 km).  We traveled from Edinburgh to Glasgow, then on to Loch Lomond, the Central Highlands and a visit at Stirling Castle.

Glasgow is the largest city in Scotland and the 3rd largest in the United Kingdom.  George Square is the town's main square.  It was laid out in 1781.  The east side of the square is the  home of the Glasgow City Council.

Around the square are many statues including the only known equestrian statue of Queen Victoria.

Poppies at the memorial
There is also a memorial, erected in 1922, for the Glaswegians killed in WWI.

With only 30 minutes of free time in Glasgow there wasn't any time to really see the city.  But at least I got a glimpse of it.  Now I just need to plan a return visit to see the rest.

Loch Lomond is the largest lake, by surface area, in the UK.  The freshwater lake is 39 km (24 miles) long.  The width varies from 1.21 km (0.75 mile) and 8 km (5 miles) wide. 

At its deepest point it is about 190 meters (620 feet) deep.  By water volume it is the second largest after Loch Ness.

The Trossachs National Park is centered on Loch Lomond.  At 1,865 square km (720 sq miles) it is the 4th largest park in Great Britain.  The Trossachs are beautiful and look like a great place for hiking.

Along the way to Stirling we stopped at the Trossachs Wollen Mill in Kilmahog.  The principle attraction here is a visit with Hamish the Highland bull.  Highland cattle are a Scottish breed with long horns.  The meat is extremely lean because of relying on fat, the cows stay warm thanks to their thick shaggy coats.

In 1996, during the mad cow disease scare, Hamish was saved from the slaughter house by animal rights activists.  At 19 years old, he is one of the oldest highland bulls in Scotland.  His daughter Honey was born in 2011.

Stirling was a strategically important city between the Scottish Lowlands and Highlands.  The medieval city has a population around 34,000.  Stirling Castle is one of the largest castles in Scotland.  Most of the castle dates back to the 15th and 16th centuries.  Mary, Queen of Scots, was crowned here in 1543.

From the castle you get a glimpse of the Wallace Monument.  It commemorates Sir William Wallace and his actions during the Wars of Independence.  The 67 meter (220 feet) tall, sandstone tower was completed in 1869.  Too bad the tour itinerary didn't include a better view.

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