A Week in Scotland - Days 1-3: Kingdom of Fife and Stirling

For Darlene and I, our first day in Scotland was really just a travel day but Jane and Janie had an earlier flight in. Seeing Edinburgh (apart from navigating to our hotel) would wait until our last day. We stayed the first two nights in a hotel in central Edinburgh (and enjoyed an early morning false fire alarm) and spent the day away in the county of Kingdom of Fife, across the Firth of Forth. Our destination was St. Andrews where Janie wanted to see the Old Course at St. Andrews, the origin of the modern version of golf. While following the scenic route, we made a random stop and explored the Aberdour Castle and grounds. After lunch and errands in St. Andrews, we checked out the Old Course and then the ruins of the cathedral in St. Andrews on the shoreline. We were lucky to talk our way into getting to climb the tower just after closing but missed out on the nearby castle.

Our third day would be spent driving north from Edinburgh up to Loch Ness but it was also filled with cool castle visits. Our first, Loch Levin Castle, is most known as the temporary prison for Mary, Queen of Scots, and is built on an island in the middle of the loch. The second is the much larger and historically significant Stirling Castle and features numerous costumed guides/actors playing the parts of period characters. But the third was the most fun, Doune Castle, as it was used in many scenes (and representing several different castles) in Monty Python and the Holy Grail. Happily, Terry Jones narrates the recorded audio tour and you can ask at the desk to borrow a set of coconut halves to make your tour all the more in spirit of the movie. Unfortunately, we ran out of time and didn't get to take our time with the whole tour. I also wish I had brought screencaps from the movie as it would have been fun to take pictures to duplicate the scene angles.

By the time we finished our castle visits, it was late afternoon and we had yet to venture very far towards our destination and hotel for the night in Drumnaddrocht, along Loch Ness. With a couple of stops along the way, including dinner in Pitlochry, we didn't get to our hotel until pretty late — where we had to inquire at the local pub to find someone who knew someone who could let us into our hotel!

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