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Climbed the 276 steps of the William Wallace monument that stands overlooking the site of the Battle of Stirling (depicted in Braveheart). As a result of this battle and further incursions into English territory, Mel Gibson Wallace became a Scottish hero. His fall at Falkirk and betrayal by greedy Scottish lords, saw him hanged, drawn and quartered, but was a critical catalyst for the rise of Robert Bruce to the kingship of an independent Scotland.

Scone Palace, was one of the Earl of Mansfield’s homes (he became The Lord Chief Justice of England). It was where the Stone of Destiny was originally placed before its  removal to Westminster Abbey by Edward I (Edward Longshanks) where it remained for 700 years. It was also known as the Stone of Scone and every Scottish king was coronated upon it. The palace is ornate and richly furnished with both original and reproduction furnishings through an enormous warren of rooms, all surrounded by extensive private parkland which happened to be playing host to the Tweed set’s Scottish games. Not to be confused with the tradition Highland games of caber tossing etc, these games are for the gentry…..skeet shooting and the like.

Doune Castle was the venue for many of the castle scenes from Monty Python and the Holy Grail. While far from being a grand palace on the scale of Edinburgh or Stirling castles, it looked very much like we had expected a medieval castle to be constructed; massive fireplaces, narrow stairwells, portcullis and iron gate. The scene of the French soldier taunting King Arthur, the discussion over the coconuts and the European and African laden and unladen swallows, Swamp Castle, the courtyard scene when Sir Lancelot the Brave slaughters the guests and minstrels, when Sir Galahad the Pure meets Zoot and her twin sister Dingo and their ‘helpers’…….. All were filmed at Doune Castle. The bonus was that the audio guides we wore had Terry Jones from the Python team, narrating the tour along with scenes from the film. A real hoot!

The Falklands Palace and gardens are once again a testament to the wealth of the  aristocracy from the past. There are 600 year old tapestries draped from ceiling to floor and enormous portraits hang in every room of this palace that was a B&B and hunting lodge for many royals including Mary, Queen of Scots, her parents and children.

Paid a visit to St Andrews Old Course where we were taken on a short walking tour of the 1st, 17th and 18th holes to see the Road hole and its infamous bunker, the burn that traverses the opening and closing holes and the bridge on the 18th fairway. The 7 courses of St Andrews make up the largest public links in the UK. As it was originally declared a public space, the course is closed every Sunday and people can be seen walking over the fairways (greens and tees are cordoned off). It also allows public access, so it was not a surprise to see a vehicle driving across the road that traverses the 1st and 18th fairways. Problem for the players is the non-golfers who meander across these two fairways, oblivious to the players driving from the first tee and those hitting up to the 18th green. Cries of “FORE!!!!!!!” echo several times from the caddies until these nongs realize it is them.

We also visited the fishing village of Pittosween where we had planned to feast on fresh fish straight from the boat, however as there was nothing remotely resembling any sort of takeaway fish and chippery, we had a cuppa from a “pop up” tea room along the promenade. We were too late to go inside the Kellie castle by the time we got there but we did walk the beautiful gardens.

A busy couple of days was topped off by visiting the fish shop recommended by Ian and June our hosts at the Auld Manse Guest House. Note to selves: ordering here and ordering at home are too very different things. When you order a piece of fish, you get chips with it as well, when you order a sav in batter you get chips in a box with it as well and then you order your large chips…….so you finish up with 2 pieces of haddock, 2 sausages and 4 large boxes of chips!!!!!! Needless to say, plenty went into the bin. Noelene also had a crack at the mushy peas………..for the first and last time.

Big driving day tomorrow as we head towards Kintyre through Glen Lyon. We have heard raves about the scenery, and then stay in Stonefield Castle near Loch Fyne.

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